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