There Is Nostalgia for the Light Only When Futures are Never Remembered


tribute to Patricio Guzman’s film about the disappeared and astronomy

the archaeology of pain
like light from the past snatched
by astronomers the disappeared
in Chile, folded into the calcification
sun purely pushed into light
Atacama, explorers, mummies
political killing field of Pinochet
star-gazing and bone sifting
the country now internally
forgetting, erasing, history
agnotology of future
a past the weight for Chileans
holding them to history
light filtered through
telescopes, magnificent explosions
of a past, no future in space
just tributes to light, oceanic
swirls and undulations
warbles and star mines

but the disappeared, the murdered
floating in flashes from US-made helicopters
teachers some, young and activist
belched up from family legacies, grand
parents, sisters and uncles
the country in a massive amnesia
schools fiddling with truth
like the great rape of Nanking
countless nipples penetrated by metal hooks
Korea, US troops Sinch’ŏn leveling death
35,000 burned and shot-through

Allende and Pinochet, pages ripped
thrown into caldrons of collective
memory erasing, the country wants
to move, ahead, neoliberal, capital
resources, wine, genetically altered
salmon, the one and only great supplier
of resins, goos , or is that GOOS
Global Ocean Observing System
diced destinies, the dead forgotten
disappeared twice, or three times
left in the shadow of telescopes
Atacama clarity, unbroken centuries
rainless, the mummifying collective
consciousness of Chile moving
out of the light of memory
pushing the fire of history into
dreary pools of commercial crassness
the desire to let the earth fold over
the death and murder, the exceptional
Christian and Jewish purity of murder
guns for sale, Gestapos for hire
entire generations upheaved
for a forgetting
light a billion years ago
more than the memory of Chile
the General, supplications from Church
holy genuflection by Coca Cola
Ford IBM Motorola Siemens BMW
whatever it takes to peel away the
pain, families left sifting desert
bones chipped into caliche
forever the fire of memory
lanced with a cold rush of
capitalist air, mountains
bulldozed, forgotten, starting points
like each new birth, afterbirth
piles and piles of corpses
like a past left for interplanetary
viewing, fogs of light drilling
through the light and dark of space

Chile, forgetting, clean slate
the empty hole of history
like a sagging belly, gut wound
gapping sucking laceration
where only the rare free-human
knows of assassination doctrine, the connection
to Goldman Sachs Kissinger JP Morgan Holy See
US Steel and Matel storm troopers
only the bones left in dry gulleys
know history, the repetition of
economic hits, the church and chamber
of jurists complicit, marketers masters
of the forgetting disease, makers of frames
that push out content, foreground, blurring depth
of field until history is nothing but
an image, left to the advertisers

the Atacama astronomers
capture distance histories, a billion years
in the making, old but
futureless, timeless
already the past, catpured
in mirror, radio hyperbolic, but now
some series of expanding
contracting futures
bouncing back
the wives mothers sons fathers aunts
uncles lovers cousins husbands
daughters of the disappeared
holding history
waiting for another
age of listeners
somewhere in the void
looking at the flagging
light of a sorrowful world
meant for salvation

Paul Kirk has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. Read other articles by Paul.