Two Poems

Damaris Cruz, Fuego Camina Conmigo, @damalola / Courtesy of the artist

(note for a friend who wants to commit suicide after the hurricane)

no one teaches us to accept death because death, that canned death, stays empty inside: the great hole of fuck it that wants to devour us. no one explains how we can become part of the impossible new world that is tomorrow, or how we are supposed to avoid falling into the perfect and permanent under-eye circle we call facing the day. mana, how not to understand? that is the question i avoid with the organizational fervor of a rescue team that never arrives, but i’ll tell you this: desire isn’t always followed by death. sometimes i run into you in the street and you shine like an orb or a solar lamp, but you are still worth more than all the generators (in case you haven’t been told a thousand times). y other times, without tilde, i.i.i. other times, your words reach me like a fundraiser that explodes and temporalizes truth, like an espachurrao (squashed? flattened? spread?) aguacate on the sidewalk, green-gray from so much loving. we first have to find better answers than these automatic things. i don’t say this to add responsibilities, but rather so that you know, sister, that the attempted murder comes from within, like the last refuge of a cowardly colonialism. come here and i’ll give you food and shelter while i have it, que te añoño, will (cuddle? spoil? hold and rock and sing?) you, and will duplicate the hugs. i can’t heal the fathomless, but what kind of world would this be without you. what kind of world is this that harasses you. without rescue, let’s speak of the future. not as realists, not as visionaries, let’s speak of the future because we will find it in a moth-eaten rug, in the tea of the drunken tree, in the buenos días, there is coffee of a confused and sincere embrace. we have a bed and we remember.

yours forever,

(nota para una amiga que desea suicidarse después del huracán)

nadie nos enseña a aceptar la muerte porque la muerte, esa muerte de latita, queda vacía en nosotros: el gran hueco del carajo que nos quiere devorar. nadie nos dice como podemos integrarnos al nuevo mundo imposible del mañana, como se supone que evitemos caer en el círculo perfecto de una ojera permanente que llamamos darle cara al día. mana, ¿cómo no entenderlo? esa es la pregunta que evito con el fervor organizativo de un equipo de rescate que nunca llega, pero te voy a decir esto: después del deseo, no siempre viene la muerte. a veces te encuentro por la calle y brillas como astro o como lámpara solar, pero igual vales más que todos los generadores (por si no te lo han dicho mil veces). y otras veces, sin tilde, i.i.i. otras veces, me llegan tus palabras como una recaudación de fondos que explota y temporaliza la verdad, como un aguacate espachurrao en la acera, verdegris de tanto amar. nos toca primero encontrar contestaciones mejores que estas mierdas automáticas. no lo digo por añadir responsabilidades, sino para que sepas que, hermana, el intento de matarnos viene desde adentro como último refugio de un colonialismo cobarde. vente pacá, que te doy comida y albergue mientras la tenga, que te añoño y te duplico los abrazos. no podré sanar lo insondable, pero qué mundo sería este sin tí. qué mundo este que te acosa. sin rescate, hablemos del futuro. ni realistas, ni visionarios, hablemos del futuro porque lo encontraremos en la alfombra carcomida, en el té de campanilla, en el buenos días, hay café de un abrazo confuso y sincero. tenemos cama y memoria.

tuya para siempre,


in the river
i left my wallet

in the river
the keys

in the river my door

in the river
a body 

in the mud
a river


si de tierra nacimos
a la tierra retornamos
si de la luz nacimos
hacia la luz retoñamos
si del fuego aprendimos
si del fuego

Editorial note: The first poem is from while they sleep (under the bed is another country) (Birds, 2019). The second poem is from lo terciario / the tertiary (2nd ed., Noemi Press, 2019). 

Photo: Ariadna Rojas

A Puerto Rican poet, translator, and editor, Raquel Salas Rivera (b. 1985, Mayagüez) is the author of five full-length poetry books. Their honors include being named the 2018–19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia and receiving the New Voices Award from Puerto Rico’s Festival de la Palabra, the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry, and the Ambroggio Prize. Their sixth book, antes que isla es volcán / before island is volcano, is forthcoming 

They hold a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and now write and teach in Puerto Rico.

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