These poems were originally published in POESIA, a broadside in solidarity from the US at the Casa del Ahuizote. Read more about it here. “So that you are always sir, dear sir” was first published as Split This Rock’s poem of the week.
How can you live
For Ferguson, Ayotzinapa, and all who die at the hands of the state
We will sing about the dark times, about school. About how La Llorona needs
a vacation from that fucking riverbed. Trenches filled across without paper.
What’s fucked is how.
On every lamppost, the buildings are not in heaven, they dream
with us. How worn, Che on a shirt and Frida is a handbag. What concerns me
is being disposable.
What concerns me are posters of our colleagues missing girls.
Dream in a time of war. It is always a time of war and what concerns me
is the basilica, and nobody cared.
How can you live? Citizen and for what.
If we are breath then bring what is matter.
What concerns me are babies who lap
milk exhale burning hair and skin.
What worries me is that our rights are porous
and study and read and find what.
Poverty, that’s what. Who said? We have when. We have order.
We have a No. We burn it down. Do you see? There is no paper.
No document can hide the dusk of a grave.
Graduates are pebbles skipping down that fucking riverbed within.
I do not claim the empty notebooks. I am state-protected, that handshake
that moves up the arm and begins to feel like kidnapping.
Mourning defenestration hearts, what we want, we already have: an email, a
loan, a beam. Before and beyond the colony, was
a kiss, dancing in a disco. Who can take away what I’ve already danced.
How can we be left behind
when we are what they want to be?
The shine of black leather boots. The sky that great safety — and not guilt– injures
What injuries does education breathe?
And in the middle of a punctured lung, where
So that you are always sir, dear sir
for the Ayotzinapa 43 and all disappeared
Ask me again why I am here
with this pine, this wild oyamel,
their great succulence of reason
You, machine lyric
and State, every state,
maker of rules and so outside them
You, hard blue evenings
with mass emergencies buried
inside them, like me
Your answers endlessly insufficient—
the mayor and his wife, smiling
waving pinkies, waving dollar bills
Sweet water pouring
into the mind of a cardboard box
The verification of empty
Dear sir, the angle of civilization
the angle of your civilization is too steep
I am speaking certain words and not others
Light rises along my spine
This mountain is a white bone
This republic, a one-note instrument
The president—like a president—deciding
is this one as human?
A forest of marigolds between our knees
“Mexicanos, ¿Cuando piensas arder?
¿Cuando el desaparecido salga de tu casa?”
Our altars coated with sugar
no place outside the economy of war
When the pan is all gone we will take leave
a parade of ripples with a snake’s purpose
This last remittance will cover the cost
if not I will send more, tied to an eagle
The earth is filled with exceptions—
43, a number, so many numbers
I feel around my dark hold
in search of light switch and decomposition
el estado ha muerto”
Bring back the fire
In the bow of our ship, an entrance
–Vickie Vertiz & Kenji Liu