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What is the sound of a million deaths, 
a million tongues silenced?   

It sounds similar to a hundred galleons 
thrusting ocean water from their bows, 

bringing bullion back to the old world. 
What is the smell from the robes of ten 

thousand clerics when their capes rustle 
as they turn away from our plight? 

Not worth the scent from one of our children, 
back in our own old world where they lived. 

What is the taste of air now vacant of ten 
million souls, vacant after the white beasts 

discovered us living on what they said was 
their own land?  It tastes similar to thoughts 

of death, thoughts who enter the tongue 
unexpected, unwelcomed, even in the midst 

of great victory.  What is the feel of all 
us dead ones standing aside of you?

At the time of the Spanish conquest in 1519, there were as many as 20 million people in Meso America. In as short as 100 years after the conquest, the Indian population had fallen by over 80% due to war, disease, slavery and starvation. Abba Kovner (1918-1987) was one of the founding leaders of the United Organization of Partisans, which was formed in the Vilna ghetto as an armed resistance to the Nazis. After WWII he eventually settled in kibbutz Ein Hahoresh where he dedicated most of his time to writing. Speaking of another genocide, the one committed during WWII, he said, "Poetry is, in a sense, a request for pardon for what we do in our lives, and for what was done to us. If there is any moral meaning to poetry in general, perhaps this is it. A way of asking forgiveness for the evil in human existence." In 1970 Kovner received the Israel Prize for Literature.

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