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En Mictlán, ni muros ni fronteras


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Every year for Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead, PODER, a San Francisco community organization I work with, prepares a celebration in a secret Mission District community garden space, to honor the earth, the ancestors, and our recently departed. This year the theme was “En Mictlán no hay fronteras:” in Mictlán, the Mexica land of the dead, there are no borders. In the image, a zoot-suited pachuco dances with his calaca partner across a crumbling border wall. They follow the pungent scent of a path of cempazuchitl (marigolds), while above them monarch butterflies, who know no borders, migrate to Mexico at this time, reminding us of returning souls of the dead.


En Mictlán

In Posada’s prints

the muertitos are always there

reenacting our world

over and again:

flirting in a party of the dead,

fighting for tierra y libertad,

carrying their babies (or

are they carrying their dead –

who can tell with muertitos?).

This is the thing about muertitos:

en Mictlán (o Xibalba o el Cielo

o como quieras llamarle),

there are no sides down there,

no colors red or blue,

no norte o sur, no territorios,

no borders no checkpoints,

en Mictlán no hay fronteras.

Mictlán is no bracero program,

no temporary work permit,

no two-year DACA reapplication,

you in, you in.

Just the dead, the muertitos,

and some blonde tupeed chupacabra

climbing this beautiful wall he’s building,

slathering on gold-flecked paint

to make it glitter, shouting

“look at me, look at me,”

over and over,

but no one’s looking,

cause they dead, Fred,

they just dancing and flirting and fighting

high above,

multitudes of muertitos

riding bicycles and horses

back and forth

back and forth

(sometimes losing a toe bone

or a funny bone)

always laughing

far above that

big, fat, beautiful wall

crumbing in Mictlán.