Monday, May 21, 2012

Charlie was a promising writer and filmmaker

His contemporaries (by which I guess I mean me and a small circle of friends) figured Charlie would be one of the great novelists of our generation. As I mentioned in a previous post, he was beginning to receive some acclaim for his work in film.  Joyce shared with me several of his unpublished poems, in manuscript.  "On the bus down Providencia" conveys the atmosphere of the time:

On the bus down Providencia
the man beside me asks:
“Are you a foreigner?”
“North American,” I say.
“French,” he answers
with an exquisite shrug.

The air is already acrid with teargas,
and on Providencia, platoons of mod boys
in bell bottom trousers are marching with clubs
and lances and the flags of hip
Chilean fascism,

past the Pizza Hut,
and Xerox,
Aqui Copias,
and the Drugstore

“Patria y Libertad”

In the Plaza de Armas, men walk to work
with moist handkerchiefs over their mouths
and noses.
Shouts around the corner, and a puff of
gas. There are people running on Bandera,
a block away, while beside me a woman
is buying apples from a street stand.

And we are wondering
when the shots will start.

Pablo came by this morning full
of secrets,
his moustache bristling like bayonets,
and his armpits packed with metaphysical
machine guns.

They are lighting fires again in the intersection,
the young boys and girls who want to make the world safe
for the Beatles.
They are piling papers in the street and lighting them
with black market matches.
A man in a business suit stops and gives them 2
hundred escudo bills:
“Buy more paper,” he says, and walks on to his office.

What will they do with our poor Kerensky this time
when the war is over? Will they line him up
against the walls
of Stanford University to teach history?

How many will die when Chile begins
La Marcha de los Muertos? And where
will the march lead?

We lie in bed at your house,
reading the newspapers and making love.

We plan to see the evening news again
and forget,
as history washes by our tired bodies
in a warm tide of blood and sperm,
The great ocean
where new life and new death begin.

[Copyright Joyce Horman]

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