SONG FOR THE DROWNED by José Muchnik

বাংলা English
POET:José Muchnik 
Translated from Spanish (Argentina) to English: Gerry Loose

Song for the Drowned[i]

Rough song, sand rolling in throats, rough sea, drowned innocence, ministers assembled, bureaucracies rule.

Humanity in balance! Black Friday! Black water!

Liberté Egalité Fraternité!

Did you do the day’s arithmetic? Children women men? Kurds, Somalis, Syrians, Ethiopians, Algerians, Iraqis, Yemenis…? How many in total? How to count their souls?

Liberté? Egalité? Fraternité?

Freedom from what? What are you made of? Freedom from unbridled markets? From stock exchanges without securities? From brokers’ whims? Who do you equate with Equality? Villas and bulldozers? Hands and guillotines? Sardines and sharks? Fraternity yes! We’ll keep the secret, we’re on our way.

Circles of poets recite, applaud each other, dedicate books, receive diplomas, cultivate egos, smile with satisfaction. Future closed off, doors don’t open, they don’t lead anywhere, not even to a labyrinth. Metaphors continue to dance, rhythm accelerates, centrifugal force throws words into the void, they continue to smile, words lie, meaningless.

Don’t you sing, poet? I give shapes to anguish, I transform impotence into questions, I look for clues in the shapes traced by falling leaves. I sing in silence. Autumn, explosion of tones, beauty exists. Feeling the world in spite of everything. Destroy fellow men, plasticize seas, suffocate air. Dive into ignorance, reach the darkness. Will I find the beasts there? Some slivers of light to rise to the surface? To go on singing in silence.

This is my testimony, a bottle to the sea at the beginning of the third millennium. Look around! Are we condemned to be blind among brothers? To hate each other without limits of intensity?  To run without sense? Why hurry? Shall we reserve seats in the seventh heaven? Shall Death invite us to a masquerade ball? Shall the soup of dry words grow cold? Why accumulate money? Bribe custodians of paradise? Buy elixir of eternity? Organize a marriage on Olympus?

Poets: Destroy the circle! Break down the inner walls! Take to the streets! Shout, brothers, sit on the pavement, embrace tramps, step on dry leaves, feel the message of rustling leaves. I am no messiah, no prophet, no robot either. Click click click: validate. Hallelujah! The system recognizes me. Show goes on. Covid! Covid! Covid! Covid! It’s not the only pandemic. Chodemia[i] conquered the world, to seem more than to be. Showing myself on television, magazines, networks, I show myself therefore I am. Misodemia[ii] too, epidemic of hatred, metastasis progresses. Demos suffer and waits, the miracle is slow in coming.

I sing in silence, I sing of love, they keep on killing each other. Mate a Muslim Jew Armenian Rohingya[iii] Mapuche[iv] Tutsi black white yellow… Killings in waves reach us from the roots of time, they strike ribs eyes lips. Burning questions arise Why, why, why, why, why? Pogroms[v], destroy ravage plunder… words keep their meaning. To love, a rose in the evening, larks’ songs, moon colts, rivers in flood… To love as you should love, beats on the edge of the abyss, drinking fountains of mystery, cultivating secret worlds.

What more is there to say?

All is said

Be silent

Until when?


[21 November 2021]



[i] Chodemia: Epidemic that drives people to show themselves in order to exist (in SEFIKILL, José Muchnik, 2015, ed. CICCUS, Buenos Aires). From the English show and the Greek demos (people)

[ii] Misodemia: Epidemic of hatred. From the Greek miso (hatred) and demos (people)

[iii] Rohingya: Burmese ethnic minority, persecuted by the military junta in power.

[iv] Mapuche: native people of southern Chile and Argentina, historically persecuted by the Spanish conquistadors and more recently by racist groups in those countries

[v] Pogrom: from the Russian Gromit; to raze, destroy.


[i] On 17 November 2021, twenty-seven immigrants, women, children, men, fugitives from hunger and war, drowned near Calais, France, trying to cross the English Channel. A horror! A horror! the French fisherman who found them babbled in tears

José Muchnik
  José Muchnik (josemuchnik@gmail.com), Poet and anthropologist, born on November 2nd, 1945 in a hardware store of Boedo, a district of Buenos Aires-Argentina, the city where his parents, Russian immigrants in these lands, had put down roots. His childhood took place among barrels of plaster and drums of fuel, among migrants waves of diverse latitudes which looked for a place of peace to live. Thirty years later, with the arrival of the military dictatorship, he emigrated in his turn. He lives in France since 1976, realizes a doctorate in anthropology in the « École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales» of Paris. He specialized in the study of local food cultures, going through diverse country of Africa, Asia and Latin America. He published numerous books of poetry, novels, anthropological works. As part of his work he has taken numerous photographs, most of which have not yet been exploited, although he made several photographic exhibitions: at UNESCO (Paris), in the FNAC of Montpellier France, in the house of poetry in Havana Cuba. 
  
 Founding member of the Franco-Argentine group “Travesías Poéticas”, of the “Collectif Poétique Effraction: Poètes des cinq continents”, of the group “Crue Poétique”, in France. Permanent contributor to the newspaper “Desde Boedo”, to the cultural newspaper "Generación Abierta", of Buenos Aires, and to the poetry review “Souffles” of Montpellier. Organizer of numerous poetic manifestations in Paris and musical poetic shows associating tango and poetry. 
  
 Last Publications :
  
  “Sefikill (Serial FInancial KIllers), words for the new millennium”, 2014, poems and stories, Spanish, ed. CICCUS, Buenos Aires.
  “Poetic critique of mathematical reason”, 2015, poems, bilingual Spanish-French, Ed. L’Harmattan France.
 “Geriatrikón”, 2017, novel, Spanish, ed. CICCUS, Buenos Aires.
 “Torns: exiles, duels, walls”, 2018, poems and stories, Spanish, ed. CICCUS, Buenos Aires.
 “Chant pour Paris”, 2019, French, ed. Unicité, France
 “Di-amants”, 2020, ed. CICCUS, Buenos Aires.
 “Quarantine poems, 2020 ed. CICCUS, Buenos Aires.
 “Déchirures ”, 2020, French, ed. Unicité, France
  
  
   

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2 comments

  • ‘Drinking fountains of mystery…” very deep and WHY is the most important word now. Powerful and eloauent.

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