A NEW POEM by Christopher Soto, in the Aftermath of Orlando

June 15, 2016  By Christopher Soto

This heartbreaking new poem by Loma, written in the aftermath of Orlando, fuses love and outrage into a refusal of violence through the embrace of vulnerability, tenderness, passion. It centers the identity of queer people of color in the face of not just one isolated, horrific and horrifying tragedy, but in the ongoing history of what Claudia Rankine evokes with her chilling line “And still a world begins its furious erasure—” Since Sunday I have felt lost without wits to make sense of what has happened, is happening, with the news of this most recent event. Yet Loma’s words are a miraculous act of grace and solidarity that permit nearly everything that the media world would forget, ignore, repress. 

—Adam Fitzgerald, Poetry Editor


for Orlando


Last time, I saw myself die is when police killed Jessie Hernandez

A 17 year old brown queer, who was sleeping in their car

Yesterday, I saw myself die again. Fifty times I died in Orlando. And

I remember reading, Dr. José Esteban Muñoz before he passed

I was studying at NYU, where he was teaching, where he wrote shit

That made me feel like a queer brown survival was possible. But he didn’t

Survive and now, on the dancefloor, in the restroom, on the news, in my chest

There are another fifty bodies, that look like mine, and are

Dead. And I have been marching for Black Lives and talking about the police brutality

Against Native communities too, for years now, but this morning

I feel it, I really feel it again. How can we imagine ourselves // We being black native

Today, Brown people // How can we imagine ourselves

When All the Dead Boys Look Like Us? Once, I asked my nephew where he wanted

To go to College. What career he would like, as if

The whole world was his for the choosing. Once, he answered me without fearing

Tombstones or cages or the hands from a father. The hands of my lover

Yesterday, praised my whole body. Made the angels from my lips, Ave Maria

Full of Grace. He propped me up like the roof of a cathedral, in NYC

Before, we opened the news and read. And read about people who think two brown queers

Cannot build cathedrals, only cemeteries. And each time we kiss

A funeral plot opens. In the bedroom, I accept his kiss, and I lose my reflection.

I am tired of writing this poem, but I want to say one last word about

Yesterday, my father called. I heard him cry for only the second time in my life

He sounded like he loved me. It’s something I am rarely able to hear.

And I hope, if anything, his sound is what my body remembers first.

Christopher Soto
Christopher Soto
Christopher Soto (b. 1991, Los Angeles) is a poet based in Brooklyn. He is the author of the chapbook Sad Girl Poems (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016) and the editor of Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color (Nightboat Books, 2018). e cofounded the Undocupoets Campaign and worked with Amazon Literary Partnerships to establish grants for undocumented writers. He is currently working on a full-length poetry manuscript about police violence and mass incarceration.

More Story
An Endless Summer of the Best in Surf Lit I grew up in an old fishing village in Massachusetts, which is nothing to complain about, I know, but the water there was so goddamn...

Become a Lit Hub Supporting Member: Because Books Matter

For the past decade, Literary Hub has brought you the best of the book world for free—no paywall. But our future relies on you. In return for a donation, you’ll get an ad-free reading experience, exclusive editors’ picks, book giveaways, and our coveted Joan Didion Lit Hub tote bag. Most importantly, you’ll keep independent book coverage alive and thriving on the internet.