Poetry by Martín Espada

Photo by Stephen Long.

Jorge the Church Janitor Finally Quits

No one asks
where I am from,
I must be
from the country of janitors,
I have always mopped this floor.
Honduras, you are a squatter's camp
outside the city
of their understanding.

No one can speak my name,
I host the fiesta
of the bathroom,
stirring the toilet
like a punchbowl.
The Spanish music of my name
is lost
when the guests complain
about toilet paper.

What they say
must be true:
I am smart
but I have a bad attitude.

No one knows
that I quit tonight,
maybe the mop
will push on without me,
sniffing along the floor
like a crazy squid
with stringy gray tentacles.
They will call it Jorge.

— Martín Espada

This poem is from the collection “Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover's Hands“.

Read an interview with award-winning poet Martín Espada. He talks to YES! associate editor Tracy Rysavy about his Latino roots, the pen as an activist's tool, and why we have to imagine a more just world before making it happen.

Read the poem Imagine the Angels of Bread

No Paywall. No Ads. Just Readers Like You.
You can help fund powerful stories to light the way forward.
Donate Now.