guatemala street, illustration for patti radle june poem about father lorenzo rosebaugh

Poem: ‘Rice and Beans’


A version of this story ran in the June 2016 issue.

After they reported
That Father Lorenzo had been killed
And after I read his book,
I ate more rice and beans.

At the center of his greatest work
There was always rice and beans.
Be it Guatemala or El Salvador
There was always rice and beans.

At 5:00 a.m. with field workers
They ate their rice and beans.
Returning back at the end of the day
There was still more rice and beans.

Living with those who lived in the street
He shared their rice and beans.
With prostitutes and drunkards
He prepared the rice and beans.

Through his priestly ordination
And the pot of rice and beans
He erased every border
With a serving of rice and beans

So tangible, so real,
I’m connected through this means
To him, the struggles and a simpler world
When eating rice and beans.

Father Lorenzo Rosebaugh was a peace activist from Wisconsin who was murdered by masked gunmen in Guatemala in 2009.

[Featured image of Guatemalan street scene by Adam Jones on Flickr, via creative commons.]