Brandon Melendez

Blood Pageantry

The man sitting next to me at Porter Square
!50!station wears his fur coat

like he named the animal after his father
!50!& then skinned the hide himself. He watches me

read a book where the author says too much
!50!about the body, about the origin of pilgrimage

& plunder. The man turns to me & says you ever notice
!50!how all poems are either about love or death?

He says this like no one has ever thought to name
!50!this blood pageantry for the spectacle that it is,

like we don’t parade the people we’ve buried
!50!& unburied on purpose. I know what I’m doing

when I say today all my old lovers wake
!50!with a mouth full of soil, bed of soil; sky, soil.

No one gets a name. Instead: carnations, basic grief, elegy
!50!that can be read at the local theater. My ancestors, alive

as if for the first time, rise to greet each other, kiss
!50!while staring down barrels of agave

& muskets, write wedding vows, watch their countries
!50!empty from plague or famine or men

convinced if they name something in a new language
!50!the old one dies.

Brandon Melendez is a Mexican-American poet from California and the author of Golf that Frames The Mirror (Write Bloody 2019). He is a National Poetry Slam finalist and two-time Berkeley Grand Slam Champion. A recipient of the 2018 Djanikian Scholarship from the Adroit Journal and the 2018 Academy of American Poets Award, his poems are in or forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Ninth Letter, Muzzle Magazine, the minnesota review, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Boston and is an MFA candidate at Emerson College.