I’m not one of those who left my land


my father says over the phone three months after having been nearly killed.

Hand bleeding, gun to his head, head in a pillowcase.

I listen, I tap my foot on the floor of my Brooklyn apartment, stare

at the exposed brick with a joint in my hand. You have nothing here. Don’t

return. Here, there. Where is the room where the lost can keep themselves?

My father wants to die where he has lived and that gift I was never given.

On my gifts I can say that I only could wish for my ashes to fly

in the wind over Hidden Port with my heart’s dust at the tangles.

And then if not my death then my life will be fashioned like orchids

pouring from the windows, all of my friends catching me in nets.

What is it when a land returns for its sacrifice? If I’ve not truly lived

a luxury then must I contain my corpse in a government plot? My country

is dying. I will not offer my ash to the blood of the presidents.

If I must offer my ash to the earth then why must the earth be owned?

I remember I’d pick the pink flowers and pull out the pistils to suck

on the nectar. I was once friends with a boy who ate ants which then

crawled out of his eyes. In the dead country my father and I

were both raped, by the men whose blood we shared, and both times

my family lined up at the wall so a soldier could empty his bullets into their heads.

Here’s the gift of the dying, he said. Here’s the house you were in and, now, under.

Francisco Marquez

— Honorable Mention of the Spotlight Award —

Francisco Márquez is a Venezuelan poet in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Narrative, The Offing, and Bennington Review, among other publications. The recipient of grants from Letras Latinas and The Poetry Project, among others, he works at the Academy of American Poets.