‘Guernica Transplant’

From the Zinn Education Project on‎ Facebook: “On April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, the Nazis tested their new air force on the Basque town of Gernika in northern Spain. One-third of Gernika’s 5,000 inhabitants were killed or wounded. Pablo Picasso exposed the horror of the bombing in his famous painting called Guernica. (Learn more in the Democracy Now! broadcast: http://bit.ly/15LRRDY) Do you teach about the Spanish Civil War and the Lincoln Battalion? Here are some resources for learning more and teaching outside the textbook on the Zinn Education Project website: http://bit.ly/15LSehR

Following is a poem I wrote during the Nuclear Freeze days in the early 1980s. Picasso’s forceful painting was due to return to Spain. I had been to New York City around that time and stood in front of the artwork for what may have been the first time. I can’t recall seeing it in person before. After I wrote the poem, I published it as a free black-and-white broadside done in calligraphy by my friend Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, with three small illustrations by my brother Richard based on details from Picasso’s work. The poetry poster was distributed around Lowell in places like the Art Alive! gallery on Merrimack Street. In those days I produced a series of poetry broadsides by Lowell-area writers and artists that featured work by Fred Woods, Tom Gill, Kevin Harkins, Maude Salinger, Eric Linder, Stephen G. Perrin, Jeannine Tardiff, George Chigas, Wayne Nalbandian, Anne Fox Chandonnet, Thomas Fitzsimmons, Anne Fleming, and others. —PM


Image of Picasso’s “Guernica” courtesy of Wikipedia.


Guernica Transplant

“A painting is an instrument of war.”



Pablo’s horrible billboard

Has taken its truth back to Europe,

Where one phrase increases each week:

“We want peace!”

Of another of his works, Braque declared,

“It’s as if he wanted us to eat rope and drink gasoline.”

And that’s what it may take

To break the bureaucratic spell

Of defense reports and propaganda

That continue to sell the need

For one more super-weapon.

I had just seen it in a New York museum.

The elevator door opened onto that brutal panel

Answering the first firebombing.

A few days later it was gone. Like that.

His painting bristling with razor blades

Has landed in Spain in time to mutilate

The logic of new rockets.

With all this war talk in the USA,

I’m sorry that we lost the picture—

The bold tableau extracted from America’s brain,

Transplanted into Europe’s heart;

The ammunition for peace

Loaded into the landmass where expert imagine

“A limited nuclear exchange.”

It’s over there now—

And generals here are busy shining death machines

With billion dollar rags.


—Paul Marion (c) 1981, 1984, 2015