In the tunnel
we cannot see the grey sky,
where bombers whine.
Then, a sickening pause,
thud. The dirt walls rattle, loosen
grit into our eyes and noses.
A shaft of light steadies
where the sifting dust rolls.
And there, in the fetid air,
a mother delivers an olive baby.
The tiny cries break our terrified silence,
loosening to one pure breath.
When we climb into the smoking silence,
December has spilled a gourd of stars
over the milpa.
The aftermath of birth is the history
of one exhaustion, one triumph.
The mother, with her infant, runs breathless
through the milky fields,
well ahead of the patrols.
We cannot take our eyes off her,
wanting to understand
what she is giving,
why she is not
the saviour of the world.
"The cultural meaning of martyr is that the person (usually murdered by repressive forces) continues to live in the memory of his or her work, an inspiration to others. Memory becomes a useful tool, a tool of struggle. These poems by Renny Golden, especially poems like the extraordinary "Comrades," give voice to those who have been taken from us. We can use these recreated voices to continue the struggle that refused to end with their physical annihilation." -- Margaret Randall
"Renny Golden's The Hour of the Furnaces is an extraordinary book. First of all as poetry, but also as an historical document, a book of witness. There is no so-called political or social poetry that I know of like this -- nothing as bold, lucid, relentless, or beautiful in its truth-telling. We need books like this; we need this book." -- Thomas Lux
"Just as theology of liberation (or revolution) exists, so too exists a poetry of liberation inspired by that theology, which has recently emerged in the two Americas; and one of the best representatives of this poetry is Renny Golden." -- Ernesto Cardenal
"After the Bible, this is the most subversive book I've ever read." -- The National Catholic Reporter
"Golden brings us news that stays news in an engaged collection of poems portraying martyrs and peasants, mostly from El Salvador. Surprisingly and heroically hopeful." -- Booklist
"These elegies put a face and a name to the suffering in Central America. Golden dramatizes headline-making events with swift and staggering images in this effective 'poetry of witness.'" -- Kirkus Reviews
"It has been many years now since Renny Golden wrote the poem, "Adelante," about the four US church women murdered in El Salvador in 1980. It became an anthem for the faith-based solidarity movement, recited in churches, at rallies, in grassroots communities over and over again. Many were moved and inspired by the redemptive power of her verse. Renny Golden has just published a new volume of poetry, a collection that stems from her Central America encounters. These poems are published in this year of the martyrs, the 20th anniversary of the martyrdom of Oscar Romero and the four US church women, 20 years of solidarity with the people of Central America. They offer a rich resource of reflection and prayer, a spur to a renewed commitment to the journey of solidarity. They are new anthems, voices of the heart, to accompany us along the way." -- Central American/Mexico Report
"The Hour of the Furnaces" gives witness to those who suffered the worst forms of political oppression in El Salvador and the rest of Central America during the 1980s and '90s." -- La Prensa de Minnesota