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Nonstop from Fruitvale to Ursa Major: Threnody for Los Desaparecidos* of The United States

By Vincent Toro

-- For Oscar Grant, et. al.

A lung lit like diesel 
is not fable or fodder.

Is not sewage siphoned from stern
and starboard.            Cuffs, not slapdash plums
            plunge from your garden. A murder
            of crows audit your liver.
                       Unquenchable Tasers huddle around
            you like a gaggle of bleak midwives.  

                      A diesel lit lung is not a gift
           from the mayor,
                      for a name is not a plaque,
is not an anthem composed to arouse
                      a hemoglobin parched stadium.

Self-taunted, they call you anger
           when they flit as anger.
                       Their fear scantily
clad,   colluding in a prim commune armed
with hedge clippers.
          Grandiloquently, they rattle

inside haughty cages, 
                       send nescient sentinels to slip 
           into ventricles,
siphoning mortgages and fractured treaties,
           terrified that you will offer tithes
                        to the Patron Saint of Reciprocity.

Adroit,                         you are the new nebula,
           a lucent rucksack of pitted olives,
           a resigning sluice
            rinsing the real
estate cult of rubber

                         bullets and dank paddy wagons.

Your lung lit like diesel
bursts,              spirals upward,
                         pulling unstoppable

            phosphors into its orbit.


* * * 

*In Latin America, “Los Desaparecidos” are those who were victim of the “forced disappearances” by repressive state governments through methods of kidnapping, torture, detainment, and assassination. Nearly 40 years after Argentina’s Dirty War, where more than 30,000 people were “disappeared.” The U.S. is creating its own brand of “The Disappeared” in the form of an ever growing number of murders of black men and women committed by police officers without any subsequent punishment or legal consequence.

Added: Friday, August 14, 2015  /  Used with permission.
Vincent Toro

Vincent Toro is the author of “Stereo.Island.Mosaic.,” which was awarded the 2015 Sawtooth Poetry Prize. He is a recipient of a Poet’s House Emerging Poets Fellowship, a NYFA Fellowship in Poetry, and the Metlife Nuestras Voces Playwriting Award. Vincent is also a two time Pushcart Prize nominee, and a finalist for the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize, the Alice James Book Award, the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize, and the Cecile De Jongh Literary Prize. Vincent has an MFA in poetry from Rutgers University, and is a contributing editor for Kweli Literary Journal. His poems have been published in The Buenos Aires Review, Codex, Duende, The Acentos Review, The Caribbean Writer, Rattle, The Cortland Review, Vinyl, Cream City Review, Saul Williams’ CHORUS, and Best American Experimental Writing 2015. Vincent has been an artist in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida and Can Serrat in Spain. He is a member of the Macondo Writer’s Foundation  and serves as member of the board for GlobalWrites, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting literacy through the integration of technology and the performing arts in schools throughout the U.S. Vincent teaches at Bronx Community College and is a poet in the schools for The Dreamyard Project.

Other poems by this author