hector son of hector
October 2021

hector son of hector lives in Oakland, CA. He is the child of Mexican immigrants, currently works in a hospital, dreams of short stories and writes poetry in secret.

On the way to Tlatelolco 

para los 43 de Ayotzinapa 

Forty-three children 

did not run 

into the Guerrero woods

and turn to smoke through Náhuatl mystics.


It was a ghostly Cortés 

who commanded conquistadores 

and indígena allies 

to starve and to murder 

enough bodies to stack as temples.

To leave a reek of death

that has never left 

the surface of the land.


It was the brigadas 

and policía federal 

that fired onto the plaza, 

where Cuauhtémoc suffered

the loss of the mexica soul

to future compatriots, who then piled 

students and neighbors on flatbeds 

dressed to look like garbage trucks.


It was the jaguares that stood by

as the dogs defaced the quetzales, 

leaving their flightless bloody feathers 

full of ash in a bag by the river.

23 butterflies  


I recall the clean-up;  

his limp body on the gurney,  

brown kid with wavy hair.  

21 years old.  

White foot sticking out 

of a blue sterile sheet,  

his left arm over his head,  

left chest cracked open,  

lung and heart exposed.  

Organs covered in cherry-red Kool Aid,  

glistening like a sliced grapefruit.  


I watched and waited.  

Waited for him to move,  

to inflate his lungs,  

bring his arm down,  

his body forward,   

scan the room,   

look at the mess  

and with a deep voice  

say something like,  

The fuck y’all doing?  

But silence ensued instead.  

We peeled off ECG leads,  

clinked metal as we discarded tools,  

scrubbed and cleaned the area around  

so the body could be presented  

formally to the family.  

Through the doors:   

a group of young kids,  

brown kids,  

their teenaged vocal chords—  

in English and Spanish—  

crying in chorus.  


I went to his chest,  

reached inside,  

wrapped my hand around his heart,   

injected the last ounce of warmth I had.  

His eyes suddenly moved toward me.  

In the quietest whisper asked,  

What happened?  

23 shots were fired.   

23 bullets went your way.  

One to the chest is all it took.  

Shit, he said, 23 bullets? 

I thought they were just   

butterflies grazing me.