San Pedro is how many miles away?
As the crow flies? What about the vulture?
Everyone is weary, down on their haunches,
some flat on their backs, uncaring of snakes
or spiders or even the soldiers from the nearby garrison.
A few smoke, one strums on a guitar
that’s missing two strings.
He knows the old folk songs but who wants to hear them.
So he hums gently under his breath,
soft enough to not disturb the grim clouds of cigar smoke.
Three men play cards, another, only fifteen,
keeps bothering them to explain the rules.
The old man talks of killing a wild boar so all can eat
but no one takes him up on it.
Let everything, that wants to live, live is their unspoken manifesto.
That way, the rest of us can get on with our death.
They still hate the generals well enough.
But that hate lacks its old urgency.
Too many days trudging through jungle.
Too many nights of being unwitting landing strips
for squadrons of mosquitoes.
The military can’t wait to kill them.
The villagers turn them away.
Unwashed, unshaven, they don’t care much for each other any more.
Once, they were taking back their country.
Now, they can’t even give it away.

John Grey has been published in the Talking River, South Carolina Review and Karamu, with work upcoming in Prism International, Poem and the Evansville Review.

Guerrillas is based on no incident in particular. It's more a synthesis of newpsaper and magazine articles I've been reading especially those that deal with revolutions that seem to go on so long that they reach the point where everyone is too hungry and tired to remember what they're revolting about. And the ones on whose behalf they're doing it could care less. But I'm also moved by the human side of these unending standoffs which is what I try to capture here.



Copyright 2009