Every day is the day of my dead

I harvest their suns and their pleasures erupt on my tongue
My dead are troubled, always asking for more time on earth,
Rebirth without redeath
Love without betrayal
Fire without water to burn alive
They are not ghosts who inhabit the stairwells of my brain
They do not possess anything
They didn’t possess nothing to begin with but their lives
No land, No capital, No real estate,
No gold, No banks, No trust funds
No human and nonhuman slaves
They were born with only their bones and their laughter
And in death they do not even want to possess you
My dead crawl around in my skin
My dead do not let me be still or dream without dreaming with them
My dead surround me
I am in a constant state of siege
Ancestors, relatives, neighbors whose deaths demand life and memory
Damn ancestors can’t get their own lives together
So they persist and insist on remembrance
When I hum on maize, beans, squash
and the communal table of our graves
They stand and sit at my side
They dance and grieve when I am sad or complain
They know being alive is sometimes worse than being dead
but being alive is always better than being dead, they sing.
Especially the dead who have no one to remember them at their side and insides,
they holler and roar in the shadows and in your future grave
Look at yourself in the mirror of dust,
pass some of it through your fingers
Put a pinch of dust in your coca cola like a Mexican migrant
Take a swig of the sweetness of the earth
Burn some copal
Or a cigarette
if your grandfather or grandmother dug that
I know my abuelita liked her coffee black
sometimes with sugar, sometimes without,
depending on her mood and yearnings
She would dip cookies, pan dulce or white bread in her cup to balance the bitterness
I know my grandfather liked his camel cigarettes
and his ration of one beer a day after work,
but nothing else pleased them more than their family and their daily roar of songs and story
I take care of my dead like piles of books,
files full of stories and poems and important dramas in our lives
I have their unemployment records,
their wedding photographs,
their unfulfilled dreams
and their way of living that never dies…
I don’t celebrate my dead
My dead celebrate me
My dead have a hard time being dead
(Just like sometimes I have a hard time being alive)
My dead love being alive
My living abhor death
Life banishes death
Death accepts life
My dead and living love each other
A clacking embrace of skeletal desires
We each practice sleeping without breathing
We each practice breathing without sleeping
We each practice holding each other
We lie and live in a bed of blues
The skin of dreams is black
Our words are our memory of the first kiss
Our lips glazed with blue rouge offering an eternal kiss
I honor my dead by staying alive beyond my means
I carry my dead
in my love,
in my hair,
in my eyes,
in the palms of my blood
I am my dead
I am alive through them
My dead sway in the maize stalks
My dead roll around in the dust and the rain and the mud
My dead flirt, fool around, make fun of the living, they say:
You haven’t lived until you’ve died!
… [2013]
* * * * *


Poets against War & Racism, chapbook from Xingao Culture & Arts Work

New chapbook “Poets against War & Racism | Poetas contra la guerra y el racismo” (22 pages; July 2017) is available. Featuring five poets, original poems in English and Spanish: Elana Chávez Arnoldo García Rafael J. González María de la Rosa uPhakamile uMaDhlamini Poetas against War & Racism is also building a cultural movement with a new language & practice for justice and deep community. Read and join us. Join us and write your dreams for a human revolution in values.


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