Dominican Republic 1965

Canto to Jacques and the Rest
by Juan José Ayuso

Written: 1965;
Source: Pueblo, sangre y canto. Santo Domingo, República Dominicana: Frente Cultural, 1965. 13-14;
Translated: for by Amaury Rodriguez and Raj Chetty, 2016.

Translator’s note: This poem first appeared in Pueblo, sangre y canto, published by the Frente Cultural (Cultural Front) on July of 1965. The poem highlights the role of working class women and men during the 1965 revolution in Santo Domingo, and pays homage to Jacques Viau Renaud, a poet and revolutionary martyr. In commemoration of the 51st anniversary of the revolt, we dedicate this translation to all the women, Haitian combatants and internationalist fighters who sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom in the streets of Santo Domingo.

We thank Juan José Ayuso for granting us permission to translate this poem.

         Jacques Viau passes, mounted on a star
alongside the helicopters across the invaded sky.
Mounted on a star Jacques Viau crosses
the sky of his nation toward the East
arriving from his nation in the West.

         Alongside Jacques, too, go others we know,
And others we don’t.
Alongside Jacques a unit of cavalrymen
astride Dominican stars
astride Haitian stars
and Spanish ones,
astride French stars
and Italian.

A company of horsemen
among the helicopters in the invaded sky.

         (Below are the tombs
and the ruins.
Below is the silence turning into roar)

         Alongside Jacques Viau:
Fernández Amarillo
Juan Miguel Verde-y-Negro, Jiménez y Morillo,
Luis Reyes Transparente y Yolanda,
The Frenchman, red-white, and blue as heaven,
Capocci, white-green, with the blood of the people.

         Alongside Jacques are others we know,
And others we don’t.
It is a multitude, very long and very bitter,
of men who are more than men, astride stars
crossing forever among helicopters.

         But Jacques is leading.
His song is leading. His legs spared from mutilation
All of him leading
among helicopters
mounted on a star,
opening a clear furrow to give space for the dream.

         Jacques Viau passes, mounted on a star
and below no one sleeps,
not even children.
And below no one sleeps.
All are awake.

All watch Jacques cross toward the East
across the sky,
the earth
and man,
among the helicopters.