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  • Writer's pictureDana Francisco Miranda

hanging nomads.

This is a poem for those who

left and those that are left.

This is a hanging poem,

Love is a hanging poem.

We are migrating seabirds,

Them ocean wanderers, them

Transatlantic whalers and wailers.

We are a nation of pilgrims long

Tired of living under a boiling tea

Of Yellow Sky, long tired of

Knowing of no relieving rains.

We come from peach black soil where

Tamareira hangs in golden and lime bunches

& men put their jaws like plows to the ground

& women carry the market on their heads

& suffering is home with the papaya.

We live wherever suffering is home.

We have poverty enough, but not

Enough to stir a leaf, let alone a

Pot to feed a family tree. Yet,

How many times have I eaten canja?

How is mourning my favorite dish?

My little island Penelope

You waited faithfully

Twenty years for me to

Wander back. I mistook your

Waves for the fraying weave.

We are a house of silence so

Afraid of ghosts we dare not speak.

We know the dead love living.

Listen, are our bones wailing?

Do the dead call to you?

For I am haunted by ghosts. They sit in my belly

Guts, swollen. These colonial spirits have dug

Their way into me. My depression, that termite

Sadness, burrows in my vein and crumbles the

Fiber of my wood. I am eaten by the heart.

But we don't we don't we don’t talk

Of the dead or the dying

And I am dying of ghosts.

I dare not show my anguish. I carry it.

Strap it on my body like corduroy suspenders.

It is my shame; I carry it well. Who then pulled

The spine from my body? I wish my backbone was

Strong. I wish my breath stunk of the Atlantic.

I was quiet before because I did not have

The heart to be bold; for I thought things

That are unspeakable remain so.

But I must speak of the dead and lost!

Pepé and Betinho left us, but I could never leave.

America, I could never leave you. Mother you do

Not need to hoard your insecurities. Nothing can

Live from holding onto dead things. How long

Has our house on Canary Hill been quiet with

Ghosts? They live in every absence.

Herminio, was the need you found in

Zambujeiro satisfying? How do you find Fogo,

Dono? On your plot of land you are now king, but

Dirt is your only autumn. You left in Dorchester a

Wife and six kids; all of them better than

You. And yet as poor of a man as you are,

Everyone seemed to domino after you.

Carlos, who tried to choke my aunty dead

Because my mother swears a bruxa cursed

Him, followed you. It has been more than

Fifteen years without word or sight from him.

Where is he now? Why did he not wear the

Conta di ojo? He is a constant afterimage. The

Unasked question. The hurt that cannot be named.

Felipe, locked up before I could keep

His image in my head lives under sentence

Of death like killed like murdered under perfect

Pretty periods like appeal denied appeal denied.

What is home for you now when you have been

In prison longer than you have been free?

What false name is the real you now?

Defé, when you were jailed and deported to

Mosteiros, I hardly missed you. I was left

Without a godfather, but even worse you were cast

Away without a family. Now I think of you often.

Now I think of how I wish you could be home.

But I do not pity you. You will always be the man

Who broke his promises. Home is with your children

Now. You can be a better father because Cuca’s

Blood, Vovo’s blood, runs in your veins too.

Elizabeth, why did they open your casket? How could

That shadow be you? How great the transformation a

Pistol to the head can do. I am sorry that you are gone.

I am sorry I do not have better words for you Tia.

I am sorry this eulogy comes eight years too late.

Tio Mané, you do not know how well you

Left your daughters’ hands empty. You don’t

Know how many lives your bullet touched. You

Took yourself from us when one death was

Too many. Be glad though you leave a legacy.

Francine once said I am most like you uncle, the

Murderer. We both know something of depression.

But I want to know the father and the brother.

The unsick man lost in the depths of death.

I'm scared now to see my primas. How

Are you Nair, Melissa, Jessica, Sarah?

I dare not contact you because I'm afraid

That we remind you of Mané. But they don't

Know they are all my dad has left of their mother

& father. Are we strangers now? Our are lives still

Relative to one another? Are my feelings strange

To you? I stalk your Facebook pages to keep in

Touch & want to like like like every damn picture

You post because it makes me feel like our lives

Are still connected, like connect-a-dot hearts,

Like connect-a-dot family.

I am reaching for blood that does not call me

Blood anymore. I am calling out to those who

Know dying is a separation & I am dying of

Our separation.

& I am sorry if I do not paper my wall with images

Of your smiles and walnut grimaces. We do not hang

Pictures of the dead or missing. I have instead burnt all

Your incandescent beauty into my eyes—the world

Is peopled with you. We forget nothing! We sup

On our memories, we the living and the dead.

You are all gone. I am left. I will not pray for you,

But I will carry you in my guts. I will carry you all.


But why father are your smiles

So far and few in between? I know

Your dad never claimed you, but you

Are a bastard that never acts bastardly.

I love your anger Cuca, your smoldering

Sorrow that you cannot place. I still remember

The first time you beat me and I could laugh &

Laugh because it did not hurt anymore. Because

I learned you touching me was better than the

Silence. But then I learned to love silence.

So yes, I want to be like my father.

I made a whole in my heart and filled

It with dead things; the grandmother I

Never knew, the land I never touched, &

The bitches brew of a sea I never saw.

When my grandmother hung herself, that noose a

Jawbone caress, she hung my father’s happiness,

Left it to die, an echo choking in his throat.

It was on this day his guerrilla grin left his face.

We could never fill his heart with mangoes or the sea--

There was never enough to bring his happiness back.

Cuca, do you see Dadihna in your daughters, my sisters?

Is that why there remains a distance between us?

Is that why even your smiles taste of pain?

I once dreamt of you changing a light bulb. You die

In that nightmare, your head smashed against a ceramic toilet.

Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! My father lost his standing.

Your eyes so dead. I woke up squeamish. Knowing of that dream

Death I saw you already in a manner dead, your knee often

Giving way to gravity. But I will carry you. I

Will carry my weakness, your weak knees.


But if you think my love cannot

Succeed you how did you raise me?

If my heart is not good enough, I will let it

Die. My love can also grow from dead

Things. I grow from dead things.

Still, I don't know how to put my heart into things,

Into people. Excuse me then if I’m unlearned Bria.

I don’t know if I can give you my heart, but you

Can have my hunger and ghosts and poems.

You can carry my scars. I’ll even

Share my unripe mangoes with you.

I'm afraid to love, to open up my ribcage

& let my heart show because it leaves

You with broken and bad knees, clinging

To dead memories, hanging in bedrooms,

Shot in Floridian bathrooms, and wandering

The streets without you. So yes, I'm scared.

But hanging is scary.

But then I learned this is not love.

You asked to see my soul and I gave you petty things?

It is the hallmark of the cripple to give only petty things.

So damn these scars and hunger and ghosts and poems.

Now I give you blood. Now I give you the flesh of

Tulips. Now I give you loving words that well up in

Me as if poets are rehearsing in my stomach.

With this everything had been said,

With this everything has been unhung.

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