Or is it an occupied country
where notaries in boots shiny as hearses
climb stairs, kick open doors
to take inventory at 4 A.M.?
It is a time to realize, my friends
we poets have no official papers
and can prove neither who we are
nor who we are not.
They have done away with us
by making us invisible
granting us not even the honor
of the yellow patch on the breast.
If we should send our poems to reconnoiter
they will return like weary guerrillas
reporting the worst:
the toll booths have been captured
the tunnels stuffed with worthless documents
the maps have been drawn by liars.
In the midst of armies of occupation
the usurper is judge and jailer
every day there are new crimes
invented by catatonic officials
with eyes of cold lava:
Henceforth violins are
under arrest. Pianos
will be shot at sight.
Only poets remember
the language once spoken here.
They have given asylum to words.
There are words in exile
in beat-up typrewriters
hiding in basements
listening in attics.
What if this dreary occupation
of toll booths were to end?
if poems were issued daily
instead of proclamations?
If all the maps were re-drawn one day
by poets instead of liars?
–Olga Cabral, Voice/Over, West End Press 1993