There’s a casket in the sky
Piiiiiiiiiand a crow perched on a torn iris
where light was once welcomed
Piiiiiiiiiwhere the light once formed rain
that fell like sermons and spears
Piiiiiiiiiupon a soil darkened by memory
drowned in the world’s insomnia
Piiiiiiiiiand the ocean splits into another
a flood of shadows and shrapnel
Piiiiiiiiithat storms across the coastlines
and into the villages and plazas
Piiiiiiiiiinto the huts built from my skin
the wind converting into knives
Piiiiiiiiias this island becomes a prison
and our tongues become a cell
Piiiiiiiiithe trees are carved into caskets
I am buried in the eye of time:
Piiiiiiiiipaper mountain, restless flame
am I to become the holy spirit?
Piiiiiiiiior the phantom of leviathans?
oceans and deserts are siblings
Piiiiiiiiiwaging wars within my chest
as the forests become remnants
Piiiiiiiiiswept away by the hurricane
that drowned the Caribbean
Piiiiiiiiithe centuries and the spirits
the saints, sun, and sinners
Piiiiiiiiisong of sand, spores, seeds
seven soundless sparrows
Piiiiiiiiisentenced into reminiscence
surrendered is my solace
Piiiiiiiiias the light dilates my eye
and lines it with a crow
Piiiiiiiiithat tears apart my iris,
slashes away the light—

a newborn casket in the sky

Julio Cesar Villegas was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and raised in Essex County, New Jersey. The author of ‘Memories of an Old World,’ he is the writer your abuelos warned you about.

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