The Republic of Poetry

Martín Espada
Poet, Essayist, Editor & Translator

The Republic of Poetry

                   For Chile


In the republic of poetry,

a train full of poets

rolls south in the rain

as plum trees rock

and horses kick the air,

and village bands

parade down the aisle

with trumpets, with bowler hats,

followed by the president

of the republic,

shaking every hand.


In the republic of poetry,

monks print verses about the night

on boxes of monastery chocolate,

kitchens  in restaurants

use odes for recipes

from eel to artichoke,

and poets eat for free.


In the republic of poetry,

poets read to the baboons

at the zoo, and all the primates,

poets and baboons alike, scream for joy.


In the republic of poetry,

poets rent a helicopter

to bombard the national palace

with poems on bookmarks,

and everyone in the courtyard

rushes to grab a poem

fluttering from the sky,

blinded by weeping.


In the republic of poetry,

the guard at the airport

will not allow you to leave the country

until you declaim a poem for her

and she says Ah! Beautiful.



from The Republic of Poetry


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