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poetry Guernica, revisited

April 26 is the 78th anniversary of the bombing of the Basque town, Guernica, by German and Italian air forces during the Spanish Civil War. It was this atrocity against innocent civilians that prompted Pablo Picasso to create his most famous painting. As New Mexico poet Richard Vargas writes, however, worldwide public outrage has not stopped the strategy of indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations.

the child is lying face down in the dirt, barefoot. his pants
are torn, exposing the backside of his leg, the skin’s surface
dull with a layer of fine dust.  head turned to the side, half
of the face is gone. hair is stiff, matted. he looks like a doll
someone just threw away. the family gathers around their
home where walls no longer stand and brick has been
pulverized into grit and debris burying their loved ones,
their belongings. a bed has been removed from the rubble;
under an old sleeping bag are the bodies of an adult and
two children. they look peaceful and asleep, huddled close
together for warmth. but they are not sleeping. overhead,
metallic raptors spread their wings with grace and ride
the high desert winds with ease, their cyber-cameras survey
the damage, send images half way around the globe where
men in starched uniforms focus on their military-issue
computer monitors, drink their morning coffee, take notes,
and fill out reports.

Picasso’s ghost walks
among the carnage, weeping.
there is no art here.

Richard Vargas resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico in 2010. He edits and publishes The Mas Tequila Review, a bi-annual poetry journal dedicated to "Poetry for the rest of us."

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