Domenic J. Scopa
I am a student at the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program, where I study poetry and translation. My work was selected in a contest hosted by Missouri State University Press to be included in the anthology Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors,
(volume 3). My poetry and translations have appeared in Cardinal Sins, Boston Thought, Malpais Review and many other joutnals, both online and print.
for all the Native Guatemalans massacred in the genocide, funded by America, to eradicate Communism
Festive candles fence
an unearthed grave as if
exhuming corpses is some sort
of birthday celebration.
A Guatemalan anthropologist
on a collarbone.
A charred skull smiles—
a toothy grin—as though
it’s either madly laughing
at a prank
the flesh has played on it.
Where the soil breaks
in a line of coffee bushes,
two crows flap for lime trees—
the limes look like green streetlights.
Reagan gave the green light here—
casualties carefully estimated.
But what was that to the indigenous child
burned alive in the village center?
To the pregnant woman hacked in bed?
Editor's note: Domenic translated the next two poems, Diatribe against the Dead and Savoir Faire, from the original Spanish.
Diatribe against the Dead
by Angel Gonzales
The dead are selfish: they make us cry and do not care,
Stay quiet in the most inconvenient places,
Refuse to walk—we have to carry them
Piggyback to the grave
As if they were children—what a burden.
Unusually rigid, their faces
Accuse us of something, or warn us;
They are the bad conscience, the bad example,
The worst things in our lives always, always.
The bad thing about the dead
Is that there is no way to kill them.
Their constant destructive labor
Is for that reason, incalculable.
Insensitive, distant, stubborn, cold,
With their insolence and silence
They do not realize what they undo.
by Claribel Alegria
My black cat ignores the fact
that someday he will die
he does not cling to life like me
he lunges from the rooftop
light as air
he climbs the tamarind
barely scratching it
he does not cringe at crossing bridges
or darkened alleyways
nor the treacherous scorpion
my black cat falls in love
with every cat he meets
he refuses to be captured
by a single love
the way I was.
They curl close.
Everything going on
in the apartment
is mysterious to them—
mother and father arguing—
a creaking floorboard that exposes
younger brother sneaking
to our bedroom
Now and then
they nudge each other
with their heads
little gestures between them—
it’s safe here
©2014 Domenic J. Scopa