H e a r t   S o n s   &   H e a r t   D a u g h t e r s   of   A l l e n   G i n s b e r g

N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 4 :   A r c h i v e s   E d i t i o n









Augusto César Sandino Patron Saint de la Guerrilla

Mestizo General a Pawn who baffles King

Hero of whom Poets tell tales centuries long:

Man of righteous posture

The sturdy spine of a short slave

A stare to discipline ragged insurgents

Beneath the shadow of his sombrero

The glint of marksmanship

Knee-high boots in northern swamps

Witch doctor wound repair on upper Río Coco

The whirr of campesino machetes

His glancing back and forth, left, and right

Forward with a quiet team of mules through the jungle

Bearing florescent tree branches

20 kilometros by night

Sure-footed on his country's steep history

Leaving no trace sleeping on leaves of plátano

Half-broken guitars and accordions playing at El Chipote

Teenage boys listening from the volcano's cone

Where he stood holding Marine Captain Bruce's fieldglasses

(with its fitted case and compass attachment).

Sandino said he'd been "issued from the womb of the oppressed."

With an afternoon rainbow and a rifle on his shoulder

That his silhouette would reappear on the walls of Matagalpa

y por toda Nicaragua

To life again in the words of Fonseca

The call: armed insurrection

Proceed into battle resolute 

Countrymen with nothing left to lose

Comforted by inevitable death

Dignity -- a simple victory:

To die for the cause of the poor.




Vendors of Nicaraguan soil and sweat and fruit and gold

La puta yanqui blond invader occupational force


Sandino made war on them making war

"mindful of the material resources at your disposal."


Sandino wrote to President Herbert Hoover

"You have everything but you lack God"




Sandino's Army a mixed bag

Campesinos, unemployed miners, Honduran rebels

A bone to pick with Standard Fruit

Revolutionary communists from Venezuela,

American Popular Revolutionary Alliance from Peru

Poets the lives of poets in the frontlines

Salomón de la Selva, poet, journalist, guerrilla,             

Secretary to Sandino (1928-29), Froylan Turcio, Honduran poet

Man of Latin American letters writing press releases

Dictated news flashes from Tegucigalpa

Reports delivered by 20 year old Chicano from California

Telegraphed from occupied towns.


DATELINE February 27, 1928

Sandinista victory at El Bramadero

¡The moment came, our guns chattered

til they seemed ready to melt with the heat,

and the sad Yankees fell like grasshoppers. 

It was the greatest slaughter I've ever seen. 

In desperation they fired wickedly like madmen. 

They climbed trees and fell perforated with bullets!


Seized property was recorded and a receipt provided to the owner.


“Your ranch has been appropriated by the forces of liberty and justice for all.

Any request for reparations should be made directly to the United States Government. Here's their address:


Office of the President of the United States of America

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500


Anti-Imperialist International solidarity was as Yankees feared

A wild twisting vine tying its way cross borders under bridges overseas:

Augustín Farabundo Martí El Salvadoran C. P. member

Rubén Ardila Gómez Colombian guerrilla fighter

Brits Germans los brigadistas and five U.S. Marines

Desert to join Sandino with Thompson machine guns

US Marine First Lieutenant Richard Fagan writes: 

"I'm an Irishman in the service of the United States,

But as an Irishman I say that General Sandino is a patriot.”

Communist Party in the U.S. at peak membership 1930

Chiang Kaishek's forces with placards of Sandino

His silhouette in the streets of Peking

César Vallejo, APRA member Pro-Sandino

Raising funds in Latin Quarter, Paris at tables of wine

At his execution in El Salvador February 1932,

Farabundo Martí said Augusto Sandino was “the greatest patriot in the world”

From Madrid and Chile Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral send letters of support

Edna Saint Vincent Millay was offering comfort care and financial support

to Sandinista poet and combatant Salomón de la Selva.


Sandino's high command:


General Pedrón Altamirano thief turned guerrillero

led Sandinista forces during Sandino's trip to Mexico

Assassinated in 1937 by National Guard


General Manuel María Girón the elder

fell asleep on his horse one afternoon

rode into an enemy patrol and his death


General Juan Gregorio Colindres intelligent son of wealthy mining family,

the combatant who declared himself  new President of Nicaragua

without Sandino's approval in 1932, then said he was sorry.


General Miguel Ángel Ortez, local hero from Ocotal,

Ambush mastermind kills eight Marines on New Year's Eve 1930

Falls in a fusillade at Palacaguina May 15, 1931.


Hailing from Jinotega bilingual General Abraham Rivera Mosquito Coast Robin Hood

leader of Sandino's sixth column who hectored United Fruit

Killed after Sandino at Wiwili


General Carlos Salgado day laborer de Nuevo Segovia

Identified by U.S. Marines as the guy on an Indian nickel

Evaded capture and disappears from history books.


A week before 1932 US elections General Juan Pablo Umanazor a Honduran

took Miguel Ángel's post  to lead major Sandinista victory at Chichigalpa

And died by firing squad in the heap with Sandino in 1934.


General Francisco Estrada, mechanic and poet

first Sandinista Governor Department of the Segovias,

(capital in Jícaro called Ciudad Sandino then)

Later in the heap with Sandino in 1934.


Coronel Santos López, 17 year old orphan with gun at 12

Climbed a wall that night to escape the heap Sandino died in.

Santos López walked north into the mountains


Into the hills of Southern Honduras and waited there until 1956

for Carlos Fonseca, a regroup, a resuming of the struggle

la formación de la Frente Sandinista Liberación Nacional.




"I speak to you Spanish America that as long as Sandino breathes,

the independence of Central America will have a defender.

I will never betray my cause."


The trains had to be stopped

The fruit trains of United and Standard

Screeching to a halt July 19, 1932

Conductor's head bouncing down the track

The smell of kerosene and crackling banana skins

Cries of ¡Viva Sandino! returning to the jungle

Eight columns stage a major offensive

Hitting at will hitting Chinandega and León

Rustling Sandino's brother-in-laws' cattle

Hitting the elections in the United States

Sandino sensing victory chides Hoover:

A rabid impotent beast who has earned eternal curses

from all the parents sons and brothers of the Marines

fallen in the fields of Segovia.




Smoke twirling from a mountainside thick with hardwoods

Beneath those trees we toasted iguanas on long sticks

drank hijacked rum dreamed new victories.

How could the struggle be anything but religious?

Beardless and bearded inheritors of the Sermon on the Mount

It was our blood and their wine that had to be spilled.

Hosannah, higher were the stakes

Nuns were raped and shot in the back.

I grabbed a gun from a Cuban canoe

And there were nine more sisters

bien armadas staring at the maps.




A volatile friend will go the extra mile

Carries your pack you don't know how far

or if you'll ever see it again

He dies young you know this by his

nature reckless feckless courageous

Suckers and heroes die just the same.

So for Oscar to risk his dear inheritance

in an act of subversion

kidnapping an uncle had to be thought out.

Was it a trap for everyone to fall in?

un gran foso común?

Christmas no less how to explain our absence from Mass

and dinner and the soccer match después.


Beware of the generosity of criminals

Persistently and politely ask for one million dollars no less

and freedom for six captured compañeros

A deal for uncle, just say uncle

Lieutenent Enrique Gutiérrez

rustled out of a family barbeque

and into a Volkswagon bus

for a holiday ride into a la montaña.

Mountains deep as high over and under we dug in

waited for the news to hit

¡Guerrillas Attack La Navidad

Sequester Un Campesino

Demand One Million Dollars!


For a hostage to take a hostage is indeed a desperate act

They got Oscar drunk enough not to think about it for nights on end.

He slept into the afternoon while El Comandante did the talking

and we listened on clandestine radio.




In Hamburg Julio had no luck

He went house to house to each of the houses

he was told to hit y nada

No revolutionary millionaire appeared

The lefty de Medici had gone to Greece

The eccentric socialist had gone Muktananda

He stood in the square with his compass

Where to go for 10,000 marks or a dozen trucks

or a bridge or a ticket or a potluck solidarity dinner?

He had done four years at "the European front"

door to door through half of Europe raising funds for la lucha

converting currencies into wireless communiqués

to Nicaragua.  Dinero every cordoba it was worth.

Julio'd done his time on couches

in the streets of London too sleeping

on his hands.  His head now and then

couldn't say no to a pipe extended kindly

dream strand to swing on by night.

And coming up empty in '74 sucked

wildly on Lebanese hashish and was bound

for Madrid with a kilo in a leg cast to limp

it to Lisbon, a deal and a sail to Rabat and

a deal and a freighter to Limón Costa Rica

with a suitcase of she-she waiting to be paid for in Miami, yep.

Julio was a hero when the Uzis showed up.

And he held one high in his Vaurnet sunglasses.

And who wouldn't light a Cuban cigar in his honor. 

After all, we went to school together.

He studied languages.  I study economics. 

¡Fists clenched in the air on to the zones y Pancasán!


•••• ••••


Vultures peck at our war dead

Bodies as bloated as enemy statistics

bob and twitch in the fury of leather heads.

Their shirts are shredded and hearts open

to a hot morning sky full of black birds

carrying pieces of us in their mouths.


We wept in trees watching with orders not to fire


Below a rustle in the underbrush and the clamor of pack and gear

Enemy troops passing below then over to the hill to pick at the dead

with their rifle butts.


We lowered ourselves fanned out around the clearing

only moving with the breeze cover as instructed

muffling the click of magazines.


As the enemy pilfered the pockets of beak torn bloody clothing

we waited the call of the carpenter.

That as then.


•••• ••••


Peeling off a uniform

skin's still numb with the rattle of guns

I close my eyes I see them fall

again and again and the one I hit square in the chest.


The revolutionary heart is full of love I've heard

the revolutionary heart kills for love.

But not mine. I've taken all I could.


Not this heart.

My hatred for them

saved my life.


Without it

I'd've never killed

and never would have lasted this long.


•••• •••• ••


La casa de Soledad wasn't the safest house, but where we felt most at home. 

Doña Sol would give us her world, at that time four rooms, 2 rockers, a tub, a radio. 

Most precious was the truck that her husband left. 


On Sundays Doña Sol would give us the keys

to drive her and her kids to Xiloa the lake

near where she grew up. 


Floating on my back in a volcanic lake

Gunfire over the ridge I turn over to see

the unit getting dressed hurriedly on shore.


12 of us then riding wet in the back of a truck

buttoning shirts so our hearts weren't beating

like targets on a Sunday afternoon


Roadblock ahead they have guns ready

We pull over, empty into a cottonfield except Roberto y Doña Sol and two kids

to answer questions.  If questions come first.


Two jeeps approach the truck

Ten Guardia spring off the fenders

fingers on the triggers.


Roberto and Sol with manos arriba

stand on opposite sides of the road

The children are held off with rifle barrels.


We crept through the rows


Like a dog stops panting to hear better

- ears go up, nostrils flare -

Green eyed Alsino would stop before a firefight


To look at all of us, again, por si fuera la ultima vez

Meeting eyes with him was a blessing

no one missed.


We crept through the rows of cotton


Doña Sol froze as un gendarme pawed at her legs for arms

Roberto spoke as they eyeballed him at gunpoint

as he lied quicker than he could signal with his back to us










Breathing through moth eaten bandanas

we fired on them from the rows

A quiet afternoon floating dust.


Blood on the cotton blood all over

my left sleeve and the road

muscles tensing on all the strings.


All the strings pounding we fired on them

The one who shot Roberto killed instantly

Sol y sus chicos under the truck.


We pushed toward the barricade

They took positions, radioed for air and ground support  

We would engage them til it got here.


Roadside right we took to the gulley to the left

we took to the rocks anti-aircraft nested 100 meters

off the road quiet in the rows.


Again advancing advancing

with two dead dragged into the field

their blood dries in the rows.


The earth drinks the sky devours souls of our compañeros

We say quick prayers for the fallen

Sunlight blaring through the dust.



                  #               #               #



[Originally published in NHS 2013, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/_special_edition_nhs_2013/.]