On Suicide Notes in Place of Passports


Migrants were born from the river’s cavernous mouth 
Cradled by overgrown bamboo and caña de azúcar 
Ripe mango flesh dripping from our teeth 
Caked in the desert’s grime 
Abuelita’s palms fold in a symphony of praise 
Her tongue wisps a language of smoke 
Dense and oily, her words hang stagnant in the air 
She keeps it tucked away in her diaphragm 
Her lips imprinted with N-400 form 
Naturalization isn’t possible when your body is already considered unearthly 
While burning sage to keep the spirits away 
Says “Hay un remedio para todo excepto la muerte” 
There is a remedy for everything except death 
Someone pray for the undocumented immigrants 
The infants swaddled in crimson 
Product of rape by border patrol 
Dehydrated bodies cremated into sand dunes 
Empty water jugs rolling like tumbleweeds 
We hand down heartache like heirlooms 
Recuerdos of suicide notes and bullet shells 
For Jose de Jesus Deniz Sahagun, 31 
Screams echoing off isolated cell walls 
Copper teeth grinding against the ache of vacancy 
We keep mistaking detention center for death sentence 
He stuffed his esophagus with socks 
Attempted to take his life 3 times before 
A testament to the torture behind closed doors 
For Joaquin Luna, 18 
Who carved out his obituary in spiral notebooks 
God’s greed gave him a gun 
Holy bearer of bullets 
Dressed in his Sunday best 
He couldn’t be an architect without papers 
So he sprinkled blueprints with lighter fluids 
Envisioned the contrast of vermillion stains on his cream shirt 
Formulated the spatial composition of the bathroom and his body 
Mapped out his apology in blue blood 
He shot himself a week before receiving his college acceptance letter 
I can’t bear anymore eulogies 
My bedtime stories are news reports 
Sometimes I can’t tell real from fake 
Alternative facts scream ICE raids in the wrong places 
Tombstones cluttered my closet 
Each inscription with the date scraped out 
From when I wanted to die at 7, 10, 13, 15 
Home is only 3 letters away from homily 
And I will worship every god to keep this family whole 
Turn our bodies into sanctuary 
Welcome to this holy house 
I keep waiting for a resurrection 
But the dead don’t dance on the devil’s back. 

By Arlene Campo

This poem is a response to hardtruth #20:

"Stress Related to Immigration Status Is One Result."

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