In late summer of 1973 I was completing my last weeks of my 4-month jail term in detention in Riverhead, Long Island, when Augusto Pinochet led the overthrow of the elected Socialist government in Chile, headed by Salvador Allende. The coup was organized by Henry Kissinger, the CIA and International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), with additional funds provided by the multinational copper leviathans (Anaconda, Kennicott, etc.). Pinochet's coup economy was organized by Milton Friedman, who also died in the last few weeks (the wicked witch of the East).

I began this song at the time, not knowing what else to do to keep my sanity when the world was on fire and I was trapped behind bars, and updated it later when Pinochet finally went on trial for those awful crimes a few years ago. By coincidence, on the very day of my release from prison ITT's offices on Park Avenue in Manhattan were blown to smithereens. My release and those bombings are inextricably tied in my emotions, in my memory.

On Pinochet's death last week I drank a toast to Victor Jara, the beautiful troubador and national folk-hero murdered by Pinochet, before heading off to the usual round of meetings and protests.

Feel free to invent your own tune! Be creative, demand the impossible!

- Mitchel Cohen


ON PINOCHET'S CAPTURE

I awoke one day it was early September
A prisoner in my own land
For fighting against the war that my country
Was waging against Vietnam
How sad I remember it came over the news
Jangling the bars to my cell
That Chile had fallen, the great eagle's talons
Had gauged out its insides, 10,000 slaughtered
And Chile, O Chile fell to the fascists
Socialist Chile fell.

I leaped from my bunk to the bars like a madman
Desperate to bend them escape
Riverhead prison had hold of my body
But my heart Santiago did take
As Pinochet swept through the gray streets at dawn
And murdered all who'd protest
"I protest. I protest, you bastards let me out"
I screamed and a guard sneered: "You're next."

And the corpses piled high in the weeks that followed
Rats feasted on bodies that lined every block
Allende had stood strong defending his office
Pistol in hand, so cowardly shot.

And who to hoe the ungrown rice
The painted murals, bulletproof dreams?
Kissinger crashes the gates of Eden
CIA toasts the success of their schemes.

Chile, O Chile
They're murdering your soul
If only the muse had whispered to Allende
Arm yourselves, Arise.

My four months ended I flew like a demon
Out of that prison as dynamite's wings
Blasted ITT's Park Avenue office
For Chile, serve notice, prove freedom still rings.

Chile, O Chile
They're murdering your soul
If only the muse had whispered to Allende
"Arm yourselves, Arise."

"We are 5,000 this noon," Victor Jara sang
In the Estadio Nacional
They smacked his guitar till it was in ruins
No resistance songs they'd allow!
Yet vibrant and powerful poems sprang from his throat
His hands beat the rhythmic sounds;
On Pinochet's orders the evil sword flashed
And Victor's hands fell to the ground,
His severed hands fell to the ground.

"Sing now, Victor Jara," wrists shattered and torn,
"Sing now, we have chopped off your hands!"
An icy wind rattled the stadium's bones
Shivering through every land.

Song, I can't sing you when I sing out of fear
When I am dying of fright
Eternal silence screams out from my heart,
Fascism's sirens the night.

Victor stared at his hands in the dirt,
Each finger broken once wandered Joan's hair,
Palms, now dead, that so often stroked her face,
These bleeding stumps where his hands once did hang
"Don't let them defeat you," her voice sliced through his pain
And Victor opened his heart and he sang!

His song for the people, for Chile, for love
For freedom he sang as he bled.
Today Pinochet sits in a prison at last
And Victor's songs rise from the dead
So sing, Victor Jara, the rice has matured
And the words bubble out of your tomb
Now a million are marching on Pinochet's jail
All humming Victor's last tune!

Sing, Victor Jara,
Your song's on every lip
The workers are rising again!
Rise up! Rise up! Throw the fascists aside,
Nothing to lose but your chains
And a world to regain, to win.

One Hand, one heart
Chile, O Chile
We've learned our lessons well
Today the torturer stands trial for his crimes
And Pinochet's sentenced to hell,
Pinochet's sentenced to hell.

I awoke one day it was early September
A prisoner in my own land
For fighting against the war that my country
Was waging against Vietnam
How sad I remember it came over the news
Jangling the bars to my cell
That Chile had fallen, the great eagle's talons
Had gauged out its insides, 10,000 slaughtered
And Chile, O Chile fell to the fascists
Socialist Chile fell.

TO RISE AGAIN ....

- Mitchel Cohen
Red Balloon Poetry Conspiracy,
& Brooklyn Greens / Green Party


You can buy Mitchel's new book of poetry (this poem's not in it), "The Permanent Carnival," by sending $14 + $1.35 in postage,* to

Mitchel Cohen
2652 Cropsey Avenue, #7H
Brooklyn, NY 11214

(If you already have the book, thank you very much! Please send feedback!)

*If you'd like a copy of the book but can't afford that, just send whatever you can afford and I'll send you a copy, don't sweat it! (The first printing is almost sold out, so .... )