Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, a contemporary of Tubman’s and dictator of the Dominican Republic for thirty years, exercised power in a similar fashion. During his rule, the church organized mass baptisms of Dominican children, with Trujillo standing in as godfather. With time, he became the godfather of all his subordinates. The CIA could find no volunteers to organize a coup against the dictator: no one wanted to raise a hand against his own godfather.
~Ryszard Kapuściński, The Shadow of the Sun
I am father to the world, husband to a million mothers, and this
is how you treat me? You can’t cut the root of the God tree.
A red butterfly like a rose petal falls up into the sky, a stain
on a starched tablecloth, blood from a nail-less thumb.
This life you live is the dream of a man waking up
to being me. I am ineradicable. If I die, another will rise
who remembers your face and your family history. Bring your heart
to my altar, my wayward child. Blood is the means
to the end, either way. You can kill me, but I will never stop being
your loving father. Slit my scapegoat throat. I’ll never be so proud.
Andrew Kozma’s poems have appeared in Blackbird, Qualm, Subtropics, and The Kenyon Review Online. His first book of poems, City of Regret (2007), won the Zone 3 First Book Award, and he has been the recipient of a Jentel Residency, a Houston Arts Alliance Fellowship, a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship, and a D. H. Lawrence Fellowship.