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Day #1101, by Daniel Borzutzky

Day #1101


The hospitals are exploding in the middle of the city and they tell us

The dead are not dead and the beach is disappearing

And the sand is disappearing and the lake and the dirty water and the children are disappearing

And the broken parents gamble with their own flesh because they know it has no value

They know their blood has no value      their hair has no value

And they ask the coroner

What can we bury here       there are so many bodies to bury

If we don’t bury them soon

We will need to burn them or toss them into the river

And they ask the police

Are we allowed to mourn here

Has our request to mourn been stamped with the appropriate seals and signatures

Can the authorities confirm we won’t

Be immolated like the excess bodies      like the high schools

Like the sand and the lake and the patients who dissolve on the nightly news

Who char in the Bank of America

Can the authorities confirm who we must pay

In order to mourn the bodies we love

The question is submitted through an encrypted browser

The question is submitted into the blankness of the bureaucracy

Thank you for your question     we will contact you as soon as

We locate an authoritative body

Who has been granted the permission to speak

But and

We need to thank someone because we have not yet been sacrificed like the sand

But and

We need to pay someone because we have not yet been disappeared like the sturgeon

We are not like the drinking water     we have not yet been    contaminated beyond repair

And we are still alive       though leaking with griefshame

And we are still broken    though dripping with griefshame

And our faces feel so hot because they are dying from so much life again

And our faces feel so hot because they are living from so much griefshame

We want to trade ourselves but we don’t know

What we are worth to the operating system controlling the algorithms

Managing who we love     where we live     what we eat and whether or not

Our bodies will be blown into shards rubble ruins remains debris splinters

There is nothing to see here     say the authoritative bodies to the international observers

And it’s true     our mouths are empty

Our eyes are empty

The price of my body is four

The price of my eye is five

The price of my future is twenty-two

There is no meaning for the depository

No rest for the depositor who is buried under the weight

Of the cryptocurrency tying them to a state that is not sovereign

There is no place for the weight of my thigh

I am hungry but there is no place for hunger

I am tired but there is no place for tiredness

Is my blood worth eighteen

Is my sperm worth fourteen

I have kidneys        I have a forceful face that does not know its place

I have a blank mouth that does not know what it can earn on the free market

And when I confess to what the authoritative bodies want me to confess (I live in the wrong body)

My life can’t be verified among all the other lives

All the four-digit codes I give them are connected to accounts that have been closed

All my passwords have vanished


  • Daniel Borzutzky is a poet and translator. His books include Written After a Massacre in the Year 2018, Lake Michigan, a finalist for the 2018 Griffin International Poetry Prize; and The Performance of Becoming Human, winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Poetry. His translation of Galo Ghigliotto’s Valdivia won the 2017 National Translation Award. He has also translated books by Raúl Zurita and Jaime Luis Huenún. He teaches in the English and Latin American and Latino Studies Departments at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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