World speaking out

Honduran refugee: Writing helps me survive

Jorge Madrid is a Honduran activist whose opposition to current right-wing president Juan Orlando Hernández saw him receiving death threats and having to flee the country. He was also a student leader when then President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown by a coup in 2009.

He says the stealing of the elections in 2017 and direct links between the current Honduran government and narcos has made life in the country even more difficult.

Now, he’s staying in a migrant refuge in Mexico City. “For me, writing is a ritual, a dialogue with myself. It’s introspective and has helped me become aware of myself and my environment. It’s also a way to denounce, to get closer to the great utopia of this planet, to bring justice to humanity … its a catharsis, therapy to survive in a world that is so volatile and indifferent to the current predicament,” he tells me.

Here are two of his poems that I translated to English. The Spanish originals can be found here.

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Jorge Madrid. Photo: Nadia Orellanac

Exile’s calendar

It’s a fish resigned to the contemplation
of bait
The task of counting connections like stars suffocated by the night
A speech shaped from skins domesticated by insomnia.
The exile obeys a dromedary instinct,
without an oasis to drink away the boredom
of the streets.
Their baggage is the gaze
of a tiger aged through death
A tie adjusted exactly
to the country that devours it
(Hope has the body of a caterpillar)
Albums are a combination of edges, hanging like a warren
of the voice.
Their thirst is a flock of birds
stranded at some border.
They read, devotedly, the calligraphy
of the hearings
so as to not seem like they are in the estuary
of their lament.
They trick their memory about the benevolence
of chess
They know that at the end of the day
a deep silence awaits
in their room.

Something human detaches from rocks when they hear the torture of a caravan

They have told us about the journey
of women as they stay awake to the insomnia of the trains
Their bodies fitted to the exactness of the asphalt.
The children trace maps with the blisters of their feet.
The indescifrable calligraphy of a common grave.
The air made offensive by the flies
Until memory.
The way of hugging
a scar.
The ferocity of a flag
without hope.
But we dance to intermittence
of the traffic lights,
and there’s no time to to find out
that the night
is impregnated with the kiss of a revolver.
That a parable is also
a portrait
trained by the tongue of dogs.