The Breath of Change

A Poem Presented by Writer Caridad Svich on March 4, 2011

To open the 5th Annual NoPassport Conference Dreaming the Americas: Global Change In Performance
Presented by NoPassport and Nuyorican Poets Café
Pasos: The Museum and Center for Peacebuilding was one of the sponsors of the conference.

caridad_svichCaridad Svich is playwright, songwriter, editor, and translator.
In addition to having more than a dozen plays published and
over thirty produced, the majority of which include songs and
music she also wrote, she has translated numerous Spanish-
language plays. She has also co-edited five books of criticism
and has published numerous interviews, essays, and reviews on
contemporary Latina and Latino, U.S., and world theater.

The Breath of Change

by Caridad Svich
Change whispers the cadence of its being
Through the hurried corridors of tired countries
Inured to the slow-moving wheels of incessant progress:
The evolutionary toll of forgotten ire.

Daily-made, it weighs down pockets,
Is bartered and traded,
And disposed of as swiftly as it has accumulated.

Oh, to be rid of change. Once and for all.
To not be burdened with its cumbersome pages
Of new ordinances, sudden tributes and makeshift stages.

Promise-held in its cheek,
Adages buried in its worn-out heart,
Change is ever hopeful, ever misused, ever ever
The word desired and reviled,
The vehicle of ambitions for savvy politicians
To carry in its banner blinding anger,
Or useful tropes of positive desire,
Waged against whatsoever has gone past,
And whatsoever may re-purpose the future.

The word is danced and sung,
And ch-ch-changes
Fall under the spell of hollow glamour
Fashioned for new times
No sooner born than broken by lies.

Here change rests on a dirty palm,
A bead of sweat,
A tear felled in the aching sun
Tremulously waking against a blasted sky.

The change of pride,
Its fiery lock-step,
Courses through the bodies
of strong-armed leaders
And those passionate in their resistance against them,
Ever mindful, ever ever,
Of the price paid for radical innocence
and its accordant transformation.

In illness, change multiplies,
As cells are transformed,
And arteries battle for their very existence.
Frail, bitter, relentless change
Accelerates through the blood
Waging a feverish war
That desires nothing less than completion.

It is said that the word “Change”
has been stripped of meaning.
It is mere cant,
a hollow ring,
a cheap tool for the promotion
of any idea that need be sold.

Yet, to witness change
In and out of market economies
Determined by the variance
of replaceable revolutions,
is to bear testimony to
the bodies and minds of citizens
Who out of rage and hope,
Take to the streets,
Defying bludgeons of riot police,
For the sake of and belief in a better, more just world –

Drum and clarion immemorial –
a call that cannot be silenced.

In the early world of deserts and jungles,
Change was but an arrow
That signaled through many fires
Little shocks of untold progress
And even more unknown resolution.

It echoed no great social truths,
No superseding paradigms,
No overarching wisdoms laid down by ubiquitous law
Save for its own irreducible mystery.

Change has no authority.
It merely rises up and Is
The body on stage,
The soul on display,
The arm raised up in prayer
For another, blessed day.

Here change echoes
Through chambers of truths
Known only to shamans
Who dream the breath of culture
Through the unveiled smoke of poetry
Unbound by reason.
No consensus sought,
No market audience desired,
No supply and demand in its purview.

Mobilized by passion,
The shaman breaks symbolic order
And unfurls new blood
for a theatre of unrest,
Discontented with hegemonic orthodoxies,
And well-functioning democracies
That bury the dynamics of pluralism
In non negotiable values stored in five national banks.

Antagonized by instability,
Demoralized by a cycle of debt,
Celebrating an Other that is no other
But ourselves,
the butterfly sheds its wings
on the stage of humanity
and lets out a sigh in the cold autumn rain,
while the shaman listens to the world’s heartbeat
through a discarded object
remaindered from another century.

Here change breathes
By step
By step
By breath
Ever mutable in its design,
Despite how others may wish for it to be applied.
Performed for no one, it merely is
Free, transcendent, volatile, unbound by laws of any kind,
Radiant with possibility.