Skip to Content

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. (Ahsahta Press, 2016), which was awarded the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award and the Sawtooth Poetry Prize. He is a two time Pushcart Prize nominee and recipient of a Poet’s House Emerging Poets Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, the Naropa Summer Writing Program’s Amiri Baraka Scholarship, The Caribbean Writer’s Cecile De Jongh Poetry Prize, and the Metlife Nuestras Voces Playwriting Award. Vincent teaches English at Bronx Community College, is poet in the schools for Dreamyard and the Dodge Poetry Foundation, is writing liaison for Cooper Union’s Saturday Program, and is a contributing editor at Kweli Literary Journal.

Other poems by this author