In the New Directions collection, Zero Hour and Other Documentary Poems, Ernesto Cardenal includes an “Epistle to Monsignor Casaldáliga (whom Mev Puleo interviewed in her book The Struggle is One, and from which I quoted in The Book of Mev). Dom Pedro has been marked for death for years by the landowners who were furious with his defense of the campesinos. The following is a short excerpt from Cardenal’s provocative, prophetic poem….

“Monsignor, we are subversives
a secret code on a card in a file who knows where,
followers of the ill-clad and visionary proletariat,
a professional agitator, executed for conspiring against the System.
It was, you know, a torture intended for subversives,
the cross was for political criminals, not a cluster of rubies on a bishop’s breast….

The Brazilian miracle of a Hilton Hotel surrounded by hovels.
The price of things goes up
and the price of people comes down.”

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