Simon Silva

                                                    Simon Silva

The United Fruit Company

                                          —After Neruda


When the trumpet had sounded, all was

prepared on the earth,

and Jehovah parceled out the world

to Coca-Cola Inc., Anaconda,

Ford Motors, and other corporate entities:

The United Fruit Company Inc.

reserved for itself the juiciest

piece, the central coast of my land,

the sweet waistline of America.

It rebaptized its countries

“Banana Republics,”

and over the sleeping dead,

over the disquieted heroes


who had secured their greatness,

their liberty and flags,

it established the opera buffa:

it disposed of free will,

awarded the crowns of Caesar,

unsheathed envy, won

the dictatorship of the flies,

flies of Trujillo, flies of Tachos,

flies of Carías, flies of Martínez,

flies of Ubico, all of them flies sticky

with submissive blood and marmalade,

drunken flies buzzing

over the graves of the people,

circus flies, sharp flies

proficient in tyranny.


Among the bloodthirsty flies,

the Fruit Company disembarks,

shoving all the coffee and fruit

onto ships that glide away

like trays laden with the treasures

of our drowning dominions.


And all the while, all through

the sugared pits of the seaports,

the Indians were falling entombed

in the morning mist:

a corpse rolls, a thing

without a name, a discarded number,

a cluster of dead fruit

pulled down onto the garbage heap.


Stephen Massimilla is a poet, scholar, professor, and painter. His multi-genre co-authored volume Cooking with the Muse (Tupelo, 2016) won the Eric Hoffer Book Award, the National Indie Excellence Award, and many others. Honors for his earlier books include an SFASU Press Prize for The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat; the Bordighera/CUNY Prize for Forty Floors from Yesterday; the Grolier Prize for Later on Aiaia; a Van Rensselaer Award, selected by Kenneth Koch; a Der-Hovanessian translation award; multiple Pushcart Prize nominations; and others. His poems have recently appeared in hundreds of publications ranging from Agni to Barrow Street to Denver Quarterly to Poetry Daily. Massimilla holds an MFA and a PhD from Columbia University and teaches at Columbia University and The New School. For more info: and