Poetry submissions

Very pleased to hear that two of my poems will be published in the Atlanta Poetry Review.


Times return

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.


Pastor Martin Niemoller

Rain Poem

All my childhood it rained.
The tall women in the family
fluttered between the wires
taking out the clothes. And sweeping
towards the patio
the water that flooded the rooms.
We put washbowls and chamber pots
to gather the dripping of the leaks
and when they overflowed we emptied them in the drain.
We went about barefoot with our pants rolled up,
all of our shoes protected on a shelf.
Mother rushed to the living room with a sheet of plastic
to cover the encyclopedia.
The light of the flashes of lightning came through the roof.
Under the flood from the sky
my grandmother lit a candle stub
and her prayers did not let it go out.
The electricity went off all night.
I was lucky enough to have a rubber raincoat
my father made for me
to be able to go to school
without my notebooks getting wet.
I wore out shoes by just putting them on.
One day the sun came out.
My father was already dead.

Translation: 2006, Nicolás Suescún

Jotamario Arbelaez


Death trap Anzio

Watching the D-Day commemorations reminded me that in January 1944 there was another landing – Anzio. And there are no commemorations:

“When Lucian Truscott’s 3rd Division was first selected for the operation, he pointed out to Clark that the position was a death trap and there would be no survivors. Agreeing, Clark canceled the operation, but Prime Minister Churchill revived it.”

The Irish Guards Battalion in which my father served was almost wiped out at Anzio – he was lucky to survive. He then was a prison of war – Boyd Clack – to return to hear soldiers of the Italian Campaign called “D-Day dodgers”.

Ironic too listening to historians talk about Churchill’s anxiety about D-Day because of the disaster of his making at Galipoli – when he was also responsible for the more recent disaster at Anzio and placing men in a “deathtrap” – helped by the incompetence of the American Generals in command.

But no commemoration for the Battle of Anzio – albeit deleted out of history!