País Sajado (Slashed Country)

Listen to the poem in Spanish

This video was made in collaboration with Bettina Escauriza – Director/Producer; Carlos Perez Samano – Writer; Bettina Escauriza and Victoria Riley – Cinematography. Warning – contains strong language in Spanish. See captioned video here.

País Sajado — Original Text by Carlos José Pérez Sámano in 2020

Antes de que se rompa el sol
en la explosión de colores que es el día
nosotros ya despertamos
desplumando horas, de madrugada.
Somos los hijos del sol,
las hijas de la luna,
los nietos del eclipse entre nuestras culturas.
Somos, en palabras bellas, los hijos de la chingada.
Venimos de lejos
somos canto que camina
voz que atraviesa el desierto
las manos que te dan comida.
Somos el aguacate en tu mesa
y la fuente en tu jardín
el trabajo que tú no haces,
una sombra detrás de ti
Las raíces de mi corazón
están plantadas en la sierra
Y si no he caído hasta ahora
a pesar de tus fronteras
y de las espinas del silencio lento
de extrañar a mi familia
es porque mis abuelos me cuidan
y a ellos los cuidan mis ancestros.
Venimos de allá de donde vienen los dioses
pájaros y flores
que por antiguos no conoces.
Nosotros somos los de la piel de bronce.
Mi patria es el sol,
y la espuma en el mar de Venus.
Mi madre una estatua de plata
y sal,
la culpa de la Colonia
y mi ciudad abandonada tras el temblor.

Hemos venido a crecer aquí
a esta tierra extraña
llena de plástico, sudor y razas.
Y aquí dejamos a nuestros hijos
para que crezcan como plantas
pero en el asfalto no crece
ni germinan las esperanzas.
Lo perdimos todo al llegar
y nos convertimos en nosotros mismos
te vendimos nuestra sonrisa
a cambio de unos billetes
y de lágrimas de sangre y cal.
Aquí seguimos aunque te duela
Aunque el tiempo no fuera
este violento atornillar de días
este rascar paredes desde adentro.
Aquí estamos aunque el viento cediera
el paso a otras melodías
de grillos buenos días
de dioses tercos y turbios.
Somos lo que nos queda
de lo que hemos venido arrastrando
somos trabajo, fuerza
un gallo que llora de madrugada.

Pero en nuestras voces canta
la voz de nuestros pueblos no olvidados,
nuestros muertos no enterrados,
nuestra tierra amada.
Nuestro tesoro es la palabra
idioma de piedra y fuego
hilos que se entrelazan
en abrazos que dan consuelo.
Una lengua tan antigua como peces
tan seca de Dios
tan transformada
nos teje suavemente hasta mañana.
El viento de la tarde
que seca el sudor y nos levanta
no como bandera, hojas o guirnaldas,

sino como una suave brisa
que mece las plantas.

Slashed Country- English Translation by Carlos José Pérez Sámano

Before daybreak,
in the explosion of colors that is the day
we’re already awake,
plucking hours at dawn.
We are the sons of the sun,
the daughters of the moon,
the grandchildren of the eclipse between our cultures.
Worded beautifully, we are children of La Chingada*. (see text note 1 below)
We come from far away,
we are the song that walks,
the voice of one calling in the wilderness*, (see text note 2 below)
the hands that give you food.
We are the avocado on your table
and the fountain in your garden,
the work you don’t do,
a shadow behind you.
the roots of my heart
are planted in the mountains
And if I haven’t fallen by now
despite your borders
and the thorns of the slow silence
of missing my family
it’s because my grandparents take care of me
and my ancestors take care of them.
We come from where the gods live, 
birds and flowers
that you do not know because they are ancient.
We are the ones with the bronze skin.
My homeland is the Sun,
and the foam of Venus’ sea.
My mother a statue of silver
and salt,
the fault of the Colony
my abandoned city after the earthquake.

We came to grow here
in this strange land
covered in plastic, sweat, and racism.
And here we leave our children
so they can grow like plants,
but hopes cannot grow
in the pavement.
We lost everything when we arrived
and we became ourselves.
we sold you our smile
just for some banknotes
and blood and lime tears
Here we will continue even if it hurts you
Even if the time were not
this violent screwing of days,
this scratching the walls from inside.
Here we are, even if the wind were to give 
way to other melodies
of good morning crickets, days
of stubborn and dark gods.
We are what remains to us,
of what we have been dragging,
we are work, strength
a rooster that cries at dawn.

But in our voices sings
the voice of our unforgotten people,
our unburied dead,
our beloved land.
Our treasure is in the word,
language of stone and fire,
threads that intertwine
in soothing hugs.
A language as old as fish
so dry of God,
so transformed
weaves us gently until tomorrow.
The afternoon wind
that dries the sweat and lifts us up not like a flag, leaves or garlands,

but like a gentle breeze
that rocks the plants.

Notes

Text note 1:
La Chingada is a pejorative term usually applied to a woman who has been raped. In this case it is given to a brilliant indigenous woman, fluent in several indigenous languages, who was exploited as both the translator and slave of the conquistador Hernan Cortes.  She is also known as La Malinche (c. 1500 to c. 1529), a Spanish version of her original name, Malitzen (also spelled Malintzen) and by her Christian name, Marina, after her forced baptism. Her exceptional linguistic and diplomatic skills aided the Spanish conquest of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, and for that, she is still viewed by many as a traitor.   At the same time, as the mother of the first child of Cortes, their son Martin, she is the symbolic mother of the modern population of Mexico.
Text note 2:
Translation of the Spanish desierto as wilderness is based on the biblical reference to John 1:23, in the most common English versions of the Bible.
Translation in consultation with Linda Murphy Marshall.

Author Notes

Carlos José Pérez Sámano

Born in Mexico City in February 1985, he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Communication from Universidad Iberoamericana, and completed a double degree program in which he earned a Master of Arts in Publishing and Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Rosemont College, in Rosemont, Pennsylvania. He has worked as a volunteer in Durango, Querétaro, Puebla, and the Veracruz mountains in Mexico; and in Masonga, Tanzania coordinating social development and human rights projects in rural communities. His books Corazón fresco (Sinaí, 2007); África sueño de sombras largas (Ad Zurdum, 2012); Cuentos desde aquí (Ad Zurdum, 2013); Ella decía ser mi esposa (Errr 2014) span the genres of fiction, poetry, and memoir. His work has been featured in diverse publications around the globe. 

(For futher information on these publications, please see:  https://www.perezsamano.com/books)  

Sources

Pérez Sámano, Carlos José. Personal Communication. 9 February 2022.

“Writer | Carlos Jose Perez Samano | Philadelphia.” perezsamano, https://www.perezsamano.com. Accessed 31 Mar. 2022.

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Fanni is Radnóti's wife
Located near the Tang capital city of Chang’an, site of the modern city of Xi’an in Shaanxi province, in central China.
Soldiers of that time commonly wore a white head cloth, similar to what is still worn by some peasants in China today.  The implication is that the conscripts were so young that they didn’t know how to wrap their head cloths, and needed help from elders.
Before China’s unification under the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. there were several competing smaller kingdoms.  Han and Qin were two of these kingdoms. Han was located east of famous mountain passes that separated that area from the power base of the Qin dynasty, with its capital in Chang’an. The Qin dynasty itself only lasted about 15 years after unification due to its draconian rule, but soldiers under Qin rule retained a reputation as strong fighters.
The area of Guanxi, meaning “west of the passes”, refers to the area around the capital city of Chang’an.
This is an alternative name for a province in western China, now known as Qinghai, which literally means “blue sea”.  Kokonor Lake, located in Qinghai, is the largest saline lake in China.  
Before China’s unification under the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. there were several competing smaller kingdoms.  Han and Qin were two of these kingdoms. Han was located east of famous mountain passes that separated that area from the power base of the Qin dynasty, with its capital in Chang’an. The Qin dynasty itself only lasted about 15 years after unification due to its draconian rule, but soldiers under Qin rule retained a reputation as strong fighters.
Oulart Hollow was the site of a famous victory of the Irish rebels over British troops, which took place on May 27, 1798. The rebels killed nearly all the British attackers in this battle. (Source: Maxwell, W. H. History of the Irish Rebellion in 1798. H. H. Bohn, London 1854, pp 92-93, at archive.org)
The phrase "United Men" is elaborated upon in the Notes section below.

Ghetto


An Italian word meaning “foundry.” It originally referred to a part of the city of Venice where the Jews of that city were forced to live; the area was called “the ghetto” because there was a foundry nearby. The term eventually came to refer to any part of a city in which a minority group is forced to live as a result of social, legal, or economic pressure. Because of the restrictions placed upon them, ghetto residents are often impoverished.

"You’re five nine, I am do-uble two"


A reference to the year 1959 and the year 2020.

"The Currency"


Meaning US dollars - this is drawing attention to the fact that Cuba is effectively dollarized.

"Sixty years with the dom-ino stuck"


This sentence is a reference to the Cold War notion that countries would turn Communist one after the other - like dominos. Cuba was the first domino, but it got stuck - no one else followed through into communism.

رحلنا


رحلنا, or "rahalna," means "we have left."

Habibi


Habibi means "my love."

Ra7eel


Ra7eel, or "raheel," means "departure."

3awda


3awda, or "awda," means "returning."

أهلاً


أهلاً, or "ahalan," means "welcome."

a5 ya baba


a5 ya baba, pronounced "akh ya baba," means "Oh my father."

golpe


Treece translates "golpe" as "beating", which is correct, however misses the secondary meaning of the word: "coup".

Carlos


The “Carlos” referred to in the poem is most likely Carlos Bolsonaro, a politician from Rio de Janeiro and the second son of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s current president. His and his father’s involvement in Marielle’s murder has been questioned and investigated.