as i see it, a poet’s duty is is to avow
that not all proverbs are morally equivalent,
let alone translatable, but I didn’t
understand that, nor, evidently, did my kin
because when the island elders came to
reckon with the spectacle of us, they
didn’t oooh or aaah, they just unleashed
a heresy of words, this is only a dream,
you are already dead,
is what I heard,
which of course meant that it’s not about
the gustatory animal we are, but this
naïve people we become, but, like I said,
no one listened; and so all the more
emphatically they said, here you live
to work, there we work to live,
meant of course that it’s not about the
labor, it’s about the unpaid labor, about
all this surplus that avows an
impossibility: something for nothing;
and how could we not listen, not know
it would come to this—these boundless
days and mortal names, the peddling
of fantasies and no way home except by
heresy, the heresy of words and the
infidelity it all embodies
—so little
time, so many


Born in Puerto Rico and raised in southern Florida, Éric Morales-Franceschini is a former construction worker, US Army veteran, and community college grad who now holds a PhD from UC, Berkeley and is Assistant Professor of English and Latin American Studies at the University of Georgia. He is the author of the chapbook, Autopsy of a Fall (Newfound 2021), winner of the 2020 Gloria Anzaldúa Poetry Prize, and the scholarly book, The Epic of Cuba Libre: the mambí, mythopoetics, and liberation (University of Virginia Press 2022).  His poetry and reviews have appeared at Moko, Acentos Review, Kweli, Witness, Bodega, Tropics of Meta, Newfound, Boston Review, and elsewhere.  

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