while they sleep (under the bed is another country)

while they sleep (under the bed is another country) refuses to sweep up the shards of Hurricane María’s aftermath. Written in dialogic fragments and interspersed with prose poems reflecting on the lasting impact of colonial trauma, it is arranged around the two different discourses. The bed on which America sleeps, and which America has made, is built on the fear that the nations it has oppressed will rise up against it, a monstrous shadow in a child’s nightmare. Written in English, while they sleep points to a imperialist American identity: the dormant body of the text. Answering in Spanish, under the bed is another country is the footnote, the monster under the bed, the colony: Puerto Rico. "Flatly, this is among the most moving books of crisis I have read in more than two decades by a frighteningly talented poet." —Samuel R. Delany, author of Dhalgren and Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders "Out of the impossible, writing the endless lines of the disaster, Raquel Salas Rivera has been talking to us all along." —Fred Moten, author of B Jenkins and The Feel Trio "Salas Rivera, with stunning clarity, juxtaposes the hollow language of witness with the embodied language of survival, drowned out by the colonial grammars of institutional violence, bureaucracy, and performative politics." —Vanessa Angélica Villarreal, author of Beast Meridian "This is a book with its form as the heart that is its motor and both its center and its shield." —Anne Boyer, author of A Handbook of Disappointed Fate and The Undying "Porque el huracán no solo impactó la isla sino también su lenguaje, y es con esas palabras rotas que Raquel Salas Rivera ha escrito este libro conmovedor y tan urgente.” —Frank Báez, autor de Postales

footnote 20

the airlines offer tickets for $50
if you wanted to leave home

20no existe un mundo poshuracán

appendix (that optional organ)

we heard somewhere that a supplement defines the boundaries
of the original like a no sets the boundaries of a sexual/non-
sexual exchange, like an aluminum panel on a window is meant
to keep out a storm, but also like a storm produces a storm
economy: dominoes, medallas, canned goods, diesel, clean
water (mary magdalene kneels to wash our feet out of a bucket
brown and translucent from reuse). an appendix is forgiven
for latching on to its parasitic parent. an appendix is the
dependent you list for tax purposes. beauty is this appendix,
since it uses up our pain to make objects that admit they feed
off suffering. v unironic. sincerely cruel. so what use do i
have for you, beauty, when you’ve made me depend on you by
stripping me of everyone and everywhere i love? are you my
medicine or my abusive substance of choice? to be prolific is to
pretend there is such a thing as language, to—as some would
say—perform it.

footnote 39

what is a record
if not a scar
as long
as a coffin

filled with mud39

39hasta las cinco

(note for a friend who wants to commit suicide after the hurricane)

no one teaches us to accept death because death, that canned
death, stays empty inside: the great hole of fuck it that wants
to devour us. no one explains how we can become part of
the impossible new world that is tomorrow, or how we are
supposed to avoid falling into the perfect and permanent under
eye circle we call facing the day. mana, how not to understand?
that is the question i avoid with the organizational fervor of
a rescue team that never arrives, but i’ll tell you this: desire
isn’t always followed by death. sometimes i run into you
in the street and you shine like an orb or a solar lamp, but
you are still worth more than all the generators (in case you
haven’t been told a thousand times). y other times, without
tilde, i.i.i. other times, your words reach me like a fundraiser
that explodes and temporalizes truth, like an espachurrao
(squashed? flattened? spread?) aguacate on the sidewalk,
green-grey from so much loving. we first have to find better
answers than these automatic things. i don’t say this to add
responsibilities, but rather so that you know, sister, that the
attempted murder comes from within, like the last refuge of
a cowardly colonialism. come here and i’ll give you food and
shelter while i have it, que te añoño, will (cuddle? spoil? hold
and rock and sing?) you, and will duplicate the hugs. i can’t
heal the fathomless, but what kind of world would this be
without you. what kind of world is this that harrasses you.
without rescue, let’s speak of the future. not as realists, not as
visionaries, let’s speak of the future because we will find it in
a moth-eaten rug, in the tea of the drunken tree, in the buenos
días, there is coffee of a confused and sincere embrace. we have a
bed and we remember.
yours forever,

47(nota para una amiga que desea suicidarse después del huracán)
nadie nos enseña a aceptar la muerte porque la muerte, esa muerte
de latita, queda vacía en nosotros: el gran hueco del carajo que nos
quiere devorar. nadie nos dice como podemos integrarnos al nuevo
mundo imposible del mañana, como se supone que evitemos caer en
el círculo perfecto de una ojera permanente que llamamos darle cara
al día. mana, ¿cómo no entenderlo? esa es la pregunta que evito con
el fervor organizativo de un equipo de rescate que nunca llega, pero
te voy a decir esto: después del deseo, no siempre viene la muerte. a
veces te encuentro por la calle y brillas como astro o como lámpara
solar, pero igual vales más que todos los generadores (por si no te
lo han dicho mil veces). y otras veces, sin tilde, i.i.i. otras veces, me
llegan tus palabras como una recaudación de fondos que explota y
temporaliza la verdad, como un aguacate espachurrao en la acera,
verdegris de tanto amar. nos toca primero encontrar contestaciones
mejores que estas mierdas automáticas. no lo digo por añadir
responsabilidades, sino para que sepas que, hermana, el intento de
matarnos viene desde adentro como último refugio de un colonialismo
cobarde. vente pacá, que te doy comida y albergue mientras la tenga,
que te añoño y te duplico los abrazos. no podré sanar lo insondable,
pero qué mundo sería este sin tí. qué mundo este que te acosa. sin
rescate, hablemos del futuro. ni realistas, ni visionarios, hablemos
del futuro porque lo encontraremos en la alfombra carcomida, en el té
de campanilla, en el buenos días, hay café de un abrazo confuso y
sincero. tenemos cama y memoria.
tuya para siempre,

footnote 51

in the river
i left my wallet

in the river
the keys

in the river my door

in the river
a body

in the mud
a river51

51si de tierra nacimos
a la tierra retornamos
si de la luz nacimos
hacia la luz retoñamos
si del fuego aprendimos
si del fuego