Dreams. A man sharing an apartment with a friend and dozens of cockroaches dreams that one of them tells him he loves him. A son dreams that his father has become his son. A grandmother whose name means red in Catalan. Jukebox headaches and walls washed with dish detergent. Salamanders on the pillow.
To read Martin Espada's poems is to become like a figure in a Marc Chagall painting: hovering over everything with an arched back and perfect sight, but unable to touch earth--to help or hinder the figures in the foreground.
In this case, those figures are shawled refugees, political prisoners, lovers, strangers waiting for strangers.
This is a political book without the predictable call to action. Rather, this book is a call to awareness, an awareness of the body politic with an emphasis on body.
Espada's poems are very much in the world, though the experience he offers is as involved as it is detached in the Buddhist sense of the word. Espada's poetry just is: poetry written by the stones that saw the beggar die, the father home from jail, the child with a key around his neck. Poetry as directed by Maya Deren.