ON THE BUS THE PAPER

On the bus, the paper.
“Government fears rise of a guerrilla movement with Colombian help.”
On the street, the beggar drags himself on buckled hands and dusty knees between two lanes of stationary traffic.
A notice hangs from his neck, REGALAME UNA CARIDAD.
He smiles. I wince. The bus grinds forward in a cloud of fumes.

Lima 1997.
In the Japanese embassy residence Nestor Serpa waits,
patiently, with friends from the MRTA,
Week after week, weak after weeks.

“Come on people now, call on your brother, everybody get together, gonna love one another, right now”.
Sixties love and peace reaches out from the radio
in a small room overlooking the park in Jesús María.

Inside, Latin America spills blood from the veins of an open book.
Outside the indian dead murmur in the trees in the heat of the afternoon.
cars move slowly, the wrong way round the roundabout.

On the television, Fujimori floats out,
Walking, dreamlike, up the stairs of the smoke filled residence,
past the bullet riddled Serpa, the fallen downstairs angel.

Abimael Guzman, the great bear, is exhibited,
Walking, in the firmament of his cell, a shining path traced from wall to bars.
Freedom comes, they say. The guerrilla, dead or alive, is defeated.

On the bus, the paper. “Forty percent of Colombia is in guerrilla hands.
U.S. proposes international intervention to save democracy.”
Democracy is cornerstone of Latin America says the Group of Rio.

On the street, the beggar smiles, drags himself forward,
picking up a coin tossed from a car,
his sign swinging, like a pendulum marking the hours.