The breaking of hands

When they want to break you,

They find that part of you,

That atom of your soul

As precious as your lover’s touch.

It is this that they tear from you,

Place before you like steaming entrails

Before a warrior.


When I was a young man,

A dreamer like so many more

That a new, better world was possible,

A shimmering, golden smear

On the dawn-welcoming hills,

I read about what they were doing in Chile,

How they made a government

To serve the people,

The many, not the few.


They had a singer then, a poet,

A man of words called Victor Jara.

When their tanks moved,

When the torture chambers rang

To screams and jets shrieked

Over the Moneda Palace,

They broke this man’s hands,

Those fingers that strummed strings

And made hope tremble through hearts.


Please remember this when you dare to hope,

When you think another world is possible,

When you find something within

As precious as your lover’s touch.

They will try to break you.

They will reach inside you,

Rummage through the very core of you.

They will search for it,

No matter how deep, how well hidden.


They will try to break your heart,

Break your hands, break your flesh

Like fresh, steaming bread.

They will try to make you hate

That which you loved,

Render filthy all that you admired,

Smear with dirt all that you held precious.

You may be rich in dreams and hope,

But they are rich in note and coin,

Power, lies and force.


So clench your hands into fists

And they will be less easy to break.

Take all those things you love

And know them well, know their worth,

Know every fibre of their being

So they can not be reduced to dirt.

Stay rich in dreams and hope

And share your wealth with all.

Then you may sing and hear your music

Ring through the rising of the sun.


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