Politica by Adriana E. Ramirez

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

A body washed ashore that summer,
bullet-riddled in fatigues.
We gathered around, five cousins,
bold and bored from days at the beach.
The youngest joked that fish made
dinner of the dead man’s eyes.
Two strangers nodded and my cousin vomited.

Colombia, when I miss you,
I try to think of days like this: when guerilla death
tolls tell better stories than grandmothers.
Days like sand, children, and a blind man
petrified in his prayer.

Days like my American passport: blue, godhead, imperial--
pretenses of immunity and power
ready to be stripped by a soldier,
a boy who knows accents do not identify
corpses like blood. A boy whose gun
escorts my mother, date for interrogation,
the last step before flight.
She’ll board with me, free of her homeland,
always afraid of turning to salt.

But televised outcries never cease, Colombia,
and your memory is buried beneath
a newsman’s coifed veneer
Fish eat our eyes, yet we continue
raising our weapons with an anger we were taught.
Our corpses will wash ashore
again and again
to the eyes of children,
sun-caked and sickened.


Adriana E. Ramirez is a nonfiction writer and performance poet based in Pittsburgh and Houston, where she is writing a book about civil war, Colombia, and the way we tell stories around violence. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Vandal, and Nerve, among other places. Her first chapbook, Trusting with Imaginary Spaces, is forthcoming from Tired Hearts Press. She roots for El Tricolor in the World Cup and teaches in the English Department at the University of Pittsburgh.