Letter to the Doomed

Dear Death—
++++++++++You look like the way my momma
felt dealing with a deadbeat man ++++you look

like my dogwood haired abuelita++++ maimed
and broken like when you took her eldest

You look like trash +++hauls thrown in dark alleyways
You look like the conversation never

wanting to be had+++ like the decision
to take someone’s last breath +++++++you look like us!

If it’s my happiness you want+++++++ take it!
Te lo juro ++++this back was built to bend!

This is a joke. My life that is. This take
and take relationship I have with you.

I practice for you ++++again, and once more
the wonderful life is through the decayed

beyond varicose veins marking the old trite
walls of our bodies +++there are many ways

but you must remember: explore your gaze
the aromas filling your line of eye

Like cannon fire ++++++the taste lasting days
I practice for you++++++how to say goodbye

Though you never asked +++++I feel like you
should know a few things about this rosary

on my wrist: it was a gift from the kin
a reminder of the strength of those women

I can’t lead you in prayer but I sin
with the best of them +++++++red hue against my skin

this keepsake and the steel in my bag
tucked away in pockets I never had

I have been far too often to this grave
I know its coordinates and its curves

I know all its grooves and all its trinkets
from the seat of a 7-forty se-

ven (a ver esta tumba+++++++ ven a ver)
I can spot the grave from miles away

I want to be buried and remembered
revisited and recelebrated

I’m not fully convinced+++++ nor sold on a
tombstone +++grave mark me++++ make me taller +++++less

grandiose +++form me to your making++++ pick
from the piedras which all tried to break me

choose palabras to grace my new body
throw a picture in the middle so you

won’t forget my old face ++++make me a bench
a place to sit when you come visit me

I will make reservations ++++a dinner
before my departure ++a wine and dine

establishment +(in a city of your
choice)++++++ I will arrive heavy footed

and lighter than ever++ Table for one
under the name Bañuelos+++ my table

for one ++++++can and will seat++++ generations
remember: +++the devil’s in the details

Click here to read Julián Bañuelos on the origin of the poems.

Image: photo by Jayden Brand on Unsplash, licensed under CC 2.0.

Julián Bañuelos:The poem “Letter to the Doomed” is from my unpublished collection, That’ll Be the Day:
The Hub City Hymns, which traverses the landscape of Lubbock and Slaton, Tx through music, memory, and poetic form. The triangulation of these three muses is very important to me as a poet. In so many ways, music, memories (or lack thereof), and poetic form are what brought me to poetry, or maybe, rather, they are what shaped me into the poet I’d always been. The poem itself is cento-esque, in that it borrows one line from every poem in the collection. Borrowed language or language made anew or even repurposed language are simply ways begging us to innovate, make language our own. In earlier renditions of the collection, I had a section of sonnets titled the “Death Psalms” which came to be butchered from the whole, but not entirely. Death, capital “D”, seems ever looming in much of my work, but next to grief and Death you hear/find: song and joy. The epistolary poem is a continuation of the conversation I often keep having with Death and the other fixed forms. It is the culmination of songs, voices, and memories, a culmination given a new trajectory.


Julián Bañuelos
Latest posts by Julián Bañuelos (see all)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.