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Todos Los Muertos

A post-9/11 poem

by Abel Salas
Los Angeles, California

Abel Salas is a "resident of Los Angeles, was born in Houston (1965) and raised along I-10 with stops in El Paso, Tucson and Phoenix. Raul Salinas, AIM activist and owner of Resistencia Bookstore in Austin has been my literary and political mentor for nearly twenty years. Righteous wordslinging moved me to send the post 9/11 poem which was written for a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration at Self-Help Graphics in East L.A. A hard copy was incorporated as part of an altar made for the Dia de los Muertos exhibition by San Antonio painter and performance artist David Zamora Casas."

Abel Salas
Abel Salas.

Todos los muertos
Fuego y hierro
Humo y polvo
Todos los muertos
Ceniza y piedra
Sangre viva
Historia muerta
Todos los muertos
Sin aviso
Sin despedida

And we close our hearts
Our minds our eyes
We forget
7,288 senseless deaths
in the LA turf wars
From ’79 to ’94
We raise the flag
and pledge to a mighty
Mythical we
United behind
the why, the dazed
and dreaded question mark
Arisen in a plume
of leaden smoke

in an instant the rest
Slips behind, backseat
to a nation blind
Most of us don’t know
Were never told
of 30,000 slain
in El Salvador over
Fruit company profits
Headed for U.S. pockets
Poor tenant farmers
Accused of being Mayan
Bolsheviks and
systematically exterminated
Zapata was then vilified
in the New York Times
Sensationally dubbed
the Attila of the South
For daring to dream
Of autonomy and justice
Land and liberty

Today, we are paralyzed,
Clocked by fear
the mail is tainted
and the bombing
Doesn’t even stop
for Ramadan
Afghani children
Trotted out in
Blood-soaked garb
To inflame the anger of
Allah’s long knife

Todos los muertos
Aqui y alla
Muerte sin fin
Y el fin de la suerte
Todos los muertos
Sin causa, sin razon

We could say
It’s been a good run
Years of nationhood
and yearning
Marines on the ground
to keep the
Wheels churning
Give or take a military coup,
A CIA-sponsored
to keep the Kodaks
and the Coca-Colas
Happy, the major
Stockholders smiling.
Don’t you wonder
Why Vice-President
Cheney never seems
to be in sight?
Who really pulls
the country’s puppet
Strings, up all hours
with the jig-saw puzzle,
the king-maker chess moves
at midnight

Todos los muertos
en camino a Mictlan
Todos los muertos
y tambien las
Cubiertas por el silencio
de siglos como esclavas
Mujeres que paren en dolor
y mueren en sudor

And what about
the friends
and confidants
the art trust of beauty
and imagination
cut down, assassinated
by the awsome plague
the sickness gripping them
in a choke hold vise
my primo exausted
in a Houston hospital
bed so tired of dying
with ten unframed
and unseen paintings
tucked away under
his mama’s linens

Todos los muertos
con el llanto de mi
aullido alzado
Todos los muertos
y la falta de esos
pincelazos lindos
como balet de almas
en el gabinete de
la obscuridad

Meanwhile, we worry
About Pakistani
with night vision and
Armor-piercing toys
Keep vigilant watch
Over a fragile coalition
That could crumble
any second
The heyday of
Innocence ebbing
Slowly away like
the blood of undocumented
Custodial workers
Who kept the twin towers
Gleaming, toiling under
the florescent glare
Four thousand miles
From home

Todos los muertos
Trabajadores, obreros
Padres y hermanos
Todos los muertos
Con la esperanza
Del sueño americano

the orderly unfolding
of anthrax executions
a horrific, slow-motion
Reel of post-Hollywood
Reality show reminders

We are all purgatory bound
Destined for the Styx or
the inevitable underworld
There is no redemption
When there is no peace
There is no peace
When we color
Our hate and
Indict the other…

Until love prevails,
Todos los muertos
Somos todos somos
Los muertos

2 de noviembre
Dia de los Muertos

Published in In Motion Magazine January 27, 2002.

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