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On The Murder Of Lieutenant Jose Del Castillo By The Falangist Bravo Martinez, July 12, 1936 Analysis



Author: poem of Philip Levine Type: poem Views: 12

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When the Lieutenant of the Guardia de Asalto

heard the automatic go off, he turned

and took the second shot just above

the sternum, the third tore away

the right shoulder of his uniform,

the fourth perforated his cheek. As he

slid out of his comrade's hold

toward the gray cement of the Ramblas

he lost count and knew only

that he would not die and that the blue sky

smudged with clouds was not heaven

for heaven was nowhere and in his eyes

slowly filling with their own light.

The pigeons that spotted the cold floor

of Barcelona rose as he sank below

the waves of silence crashing

on the far shores of his legs, growing

faint and watery. His hands opened

a last time to receive the benedictions

of automobile exhaust and rain

and the rain of soot. His mouth,

that would never again say "I am afraid,"

closed on nothing. The old grandfather

hawking daisies at his stand pressed

a handkerchief against his lips

and turned his eyes away before they held

the eyes of a gunman. The shepherd dogs

on sale howled in their cages

and turned in circles. There is more

to be said, but by someone who has suffered

and died for his sister the earth

and his brothers the beasts and the trees.

The Lieutenant can hear it, the prayer

that comes on the voices of water, today

or yesterday, form Chicago or Valladolid,

and hands like smoke above this street

he won't walk as a man ever again.






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