Kingdom of Debt

According to a report from the University of San Diego’s Justice in Mexico project, 138,000 people have been murdered in Mexico since 2006.

They call it the corner of heaven:
a laboratory, a foot at the throat
of an empire. Before the holy
dirt, the woman with the feline gait
waits with tangled hair, mouth
agape — the letter X marked
on what’s left of her breasts
and face. Nuestra Belleza
Mexicana. A roped mule
watches a man place a crown
on her severed head. Tomorrow
the queen will be picked clean
by the kindness of the sea.
Shuttered shops and empty
restaurants. Stray dogs couple
in a courtyard. Under a swaying
palm tree, a cluster of men
finger golden pistols, whisper,
aquí ni se paran las moscas.
Two boys, transfixed, watch
a pixelated video: a family fed
to a swarm of insatiable pigs.
A butcher sweeps blood
from an empty street. Death
is my godmother, he repeats.
Death is a burnt mirror.
When the crackling stereo
dithers between stations — amor
de mis amores, sangre de mi alma — 
a gaggle of silent children
gather before a sputtering
trash bin. Together they watch
the terror hover like flies.

More Poems by Erika L. Sánchez