The EUC student academic journal (ESAJ) is an academic journal led by students of Erasmus University College in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The journal features papers written by students of the Liberal Arts & Sciences program, to whom it provides the opportunity to make papers written during the academic year available to a wider public.

The second edition of the EUC student academic journal was published in December, 2020, and contains contributions from the previous academic year.

2nd issue, academic year 2019/2020


About this issue

What to expect

Institutionalized Racism in Guatemala: Who are the “Communist Maya Indigenous”?

Hunger within the Communities that Feed Us – A Historical Materialist Approach

An Eye for a Nude Picture: Revenge Porn Criminalisation in the U.S.

Perverse Media: How Instagram limits the potential of feminist art

Constructing the Newsfeed Refugee: A Semiotic Analysis of Refugee Depictions on BBC & Al Jazeera Facebook Thumbnails

Making Sense of The Dead: Mexico’s Femicide through the lens of Rancière

Jurisdictional Immunities of the State
Germany vs Italy (Greece Intervening)

Animal All Too Human: The Gradual Decline of Human Animality and its Rediscovery

Souffles-Anfâs, Présence Africaine & Frantz Fanon: an Exploration of a Postcolonial Dialogue on National Culture

Critical Theory and its Adversary: Fascism in the works of Adorno and Horkheimer, Marcuse, Foucault, and Deleuze and Guattari

website developed by Philipp Spengler 

S. Hillen
Making Sense of The Dead: Mexico’s Femicide through the lens of Rancière

In the last couple of years, the rate at which women have been victim of violent murder in Mexico has been on the rise. The government of Mexico has attempted to these murders to the margins of society. However, as of recently, the femicide has been met with an increasing amount of criticism from activists around the world. The protests have been particularly loud in the arts, in which different artistic mediums have been used to call out the government for keeping silent and thereby draw attention to the violent assaults taking place against women in Mexico. This paper looks into Ranciere’s philosophical framework of the distribution of the sensible. Ranciere’s theory explains how normalising processes allow for the silencing of minorities, thereby defining what groups have a place in society, and what groups do not. Ranciere speaks of the power of art, and its ability to dismantle the distribution of the sensible, and thereby the social order. In this paper, the poem, The Dead, by Maria Rivera is analysed in conjunction with Ranciere’s theory. This analysis sheds light on how art can be a catalyst for radical changes, with an ability to destabilise the status quo and thereby holding the potential for equality.

During the Day of the Dead in 2019, demonstrators marched through Mexico City, protesting against the femicide that was taking place in the Northern Regions of Mexico. The demonstration was named Dia del Muertas, which when translated to English means Day of the Dead Women. The demonstrators held pink crosses, which all bore different markings: Ni Una Mas [Not one More] said one (BBC, 2019). A study conducted by the UN on Violence and Femicide in Mexico found that in 2016, around 25 000 women had been victims of homicide in Mexico. The number of homicides directed towards women has been on the rise since the 1990s and continues to rise today (Méndez, 2017, p. 24). Despite national and international pressure from activists groups, human rights groups and the UN, the government has failed to act against the brutality (Wehlan, 2019, para. 2-4). The murdered women are most often prostitutes or factory workers. In order to avoid tackling the issue, authorities have relied on a ‘blame the victim’ discourse. This narrative ensures that women carry the entire burden of their deaths by making them responsible under the pretence of individual responsibility (Wright, 2011).
    There has been an impressive counter-reaction towards the femicide from the arts, especially in film, literature and poetry. Art has been used as a way to raise awareness to the victims of femicide; often in most thought-provoking ways. In this essay I will look into the poem The Dead by Maria Rivera through the lens of Rancière’s philosophy. By doing so, it will be possible to shed light on how the works of art which have been conceived in reaction to the femicide allow for the women who have fallen victim of violence to take centre stage in the political arena. Furthermore, this analysis gives us a glimpse into how art has been a pivotal instrument in creating momentum against the femicide in Mexico, and might hold that possibility in other fights for equality all around the world.
    This essay begins by defining the analytical method developed by Jaques Rancière, the distribution of the sensible, and its relationship to the arts. Secondly, the case study of the femicide taking place in Ciudad Juárez and the reactions that the crimes have procured from the government will be outlined. Third, these reactions will be situated within the framework of Rancière to understand how exactly the sensible is distributed within Mexico. Finally, the attention will turn towards Rivera’s poetry, to illustrate how her poem, The Dead, redefines the distribution of the sensible, at the same time reconfiguring what is visible and sayable in normal experience.

Situating Rancière

The Distribution of the Sensible
Jacques Rancière argues that the singularity of art and politics lies in their ability to interrupt the existing social order (Rancière & Concoran, 2015, p. 1). The social order, to Rancière, presupposes a particular distribution of the sensible, a law that defines the forms of partaking according to the modes of perception in which they are inscribed. In French, le partage du sensible takes a double meaning: for partage expresses at once a partition, as in a division of a whole and, a sharing, the distribution of its parts (Panagia, 2010, pp. 95-96).
    In its application to society, this philosophy establishes which modes of being are deemed to have a place in society and are made visible, heard, and recognised, in opposition to what is judged to be otherwise, noise, babble or insensible. To Rancière, the distribution of the sensible, as is, is upheld by consensus. Consensus is the act of policing, not in its traditional sense, but rather as what acts as the nullifying of the surplus object. In such, consensus nullifies and reduces the people to the sum of the parts of the social body and the political community. Or in other words, it tries to instate a normalisation (Rancière & Concoran, 2015, p. 2).
    For Rancière, dissensus is the antonym of consensus, and in like manner, politics is the opposite of policing. Politics takes place when those who formerly had been given no part within the common, as has been constructed through the distribution of the sensible, now take part through the disruptive speaking of disagreement, or dissensus. In other words, politics is essentially the sudden presence of modes of being that had been excluded from common experience. This is the demonstration of a gap in the sensible itself, as it reconfigures space for the appearance of the uncounted parts of the social body as described by a specific social order (Rancière & Concoran, 2015, p. 24). As such, for Ranciere, political action comes not from what is traditionally conceived as politics (which to him is then policing) or determined by class, as Althusser has claimed, but rather political actions are motivated by individuals who have been denied an equal recognition and now have the ability to speak, to rise, to be heard and demonstrate his or her rights. In this way, dissensus is an act of freedom, which is a coming into being of equality that redistributes the sensible into a more egalitarian yet polemical common (Rancière & Concoran, 2014, p. 152).

Aesthetics, Poetry & Politics

Rancière marks a close link between the arts and politics. He sees art as something that is not outside the sphere of politics but is rather the very medium of politics, for politics is, as was established before, what is sensed and felt:

"Art and politics do not constitute two permanent, separate realities whereby the issue is to know whether or not they ought to be set in relation. They are two forms of the distribution of the sensible” (Rancière & Concoran, 2014, p. 25).

As such, the Platonic ideology of keeping the arts separated from politics is not conceivable, for politics is the very texture of aesthetics to the extent that it participates in the distribution of the sensible (Panagia, 2010, p. 101). The politics of aesthetics implies the production of a common experience that opens up the space for a new sensibility.
    What is poetry then for Rancière if it is to be understood as art? In his book, The Politics of Literature, Rancière presents the aesthetic regime, a distinct occurrence which, during the 19th century, introduced the possibility for a redistribution of the sensible to the European aesthetic tradition (Helyer & Murphet, 2017, p. 21). Formerly, under the representative regime, there was a hierarchy of style with subject matter were "the frame of intelligibility of human actions was patterned on the model of the causal rationality of voluntary actions, linked together and aimed at definite ends", in this manner a political message is forced upon the spectator. (Rancière & Concoran, 2015, p. 171). However, over the last 200 years there has been a great contentious opening up of art, which has made space for an aesthetic regime and a new literary regime in which poetry and prose started "speaking to anybody, without knowing to whom it had to speak, and to whom it had not" (Ranciere & Concoran, 2015, p. 157). He calls this ability to speak to anybody, literariness. Literariness meant that, unlike in the representative regime, writing no longer imposed one will on another through ethical purpose, but rather a cut, or coupure, occurred between artist and spectator. The politics of literature, and in this manner, poetry, thus makes its appearance as the dismissal of the politics of authorities who conceive politics as a struggle of wills and interest. Rather, this regime of writing supposes that the writer is anybody and the reader is anybody; or as Rancière embodied it, "literature is the art of writing that specifically addresses those who should not read" (Helyer & Murphet, 2017, pp. 6-14; Rancière, 2015, p. 158).
    The political aspect of poetry for Rancière, is then, its ability to provoke a critical attitude that creates dissensus. This dissensus relies on its reade: The reader observes, selects, compares, interprets, and thereby becomes an emancipated viewer. Through this coupure between poet and spectators, no political message is forced upon him or her and the consensus becomes undermined as individuals perception of a community is challenged. The possibility of bringing forth a change is what Rancière calls a suspenseful existence (Davis, 2010, p. 154).
    In sum, what makes literature, and in like manner poetry, so interesting to Rancière, is its ability to be 'political'. Not in the conventional sense, but as interests or subject-positions that populate the political terrain proper. In this way, poetry should be approached not for its stories, but rather in the way it allows for a reorientation of the means of perception in common experience. Helyer and Murphet (2016) put it in like manner:

"Visionary power that imperceptibly lifts [an action] up, sentence after sentence, in order to make us perceive, under the banal prose of social communication and ordinary narrative plotting, the poetic prose of the great order or great disorder, the music of unbound affections and perceptions, mixed together in the great indifferent flux of the Infinite" (p. 20).

It is in this manner that we reach Rancière's fundamental point, where poetry announces an egalitarian promise as it has the means to enlighten new parts of the visible. For poetry breaches the perception of our material world and in that process allows us to perceive the world anew.

Femicide in Ciudad Juarez: A Case Study
The historian Joan Landes, has argued that by gendering the public sphere and defining it around the exclusion of the feminine, it becomes possible to exclude women from having any say in politics, economics, and culture (Landes, 1988, p. 2). In her essay titled, Necropolitics, Narcopolitics, and Femicide: Gendered Violence on the Mexico-U.S. Border, Melissa Wright explores the need to understand the discourse surrounding the deaths in Ciudad Juarezá, Mexico as gendered. She argues that by using patriarchal rhetoric, the government has justified their non-involvement in the investigation of these murders and instead used a ‘blame the victim’ strategy. By doing so, the author demonstrates how the feminine has been excluded from the public sphere and been made invisible (Wright, 2011).
    To understand this in more detail, this next section will attempt to illustrate how the government of Ciudad Juarez has rendered the lives and murders of women unimportant by turning responsibility towards the victims themselves. This will be illustrated in a twofold manner: (1) the government has attempted to rationalise that the victims were women who were not abiding to conventional norms. (2) They have argued that the victims are purposefully putting themselves in the face of danger by interacting with drug lords.
    (1) Ciudad Juarez is one of the only cities in Mexico that does not confine prostitution to certain zonas de tolerancia. Prostitution takes place everywhere in the city, which has given the city the reputation of an open brothel in which sex is to be found on the streets, squares, shops and so on. These women that walk the streets as prostitutes have been titled ‘public women’. In addition to this, during the late 1970s, many women migrated to Ciudad Juarezá to find jobs. As these women were working away from home, and thereby also wandered the streets, this strengthened the idea that the city was one ridden with ‘public women’ (prostitutes). Hence, a city where women are deemed decadent and contaminate their social surroundings and the public sphere (Wright, 2011, p. 713). The government's discourse on the femicide has thrived on the notion of public and decadent women by insinuating that while the deaths are unfortunate, it is the victim's fault because they were putting themselves at risk by being in public space rather than in the safety of their home (p. 713-714). This is well illustrated in the following statement held by one of the officials of Ciudad Juarez:

"Where were these young ladies when they were seen last? Were they drinking? Were they partying? Were they on a dark street? Or were they in front of their plant when they went home?” (Quinones, 1999)

This statement illustrates how the government eradicates any legitimacy of women's discourses against the victims. The government is not only justifying their non-involvement into the investigation of the deaths but also normalise the violence (Wright, 2011, p. 715).
    (2) The second way the government has turned responsibility inwards is by claiming that women are putting themselves in the way of danger by interacting with the drug cartels. The government argues that the only reason a drug lord would act violently is when another drug cartel is getting in the way of business; for drug lords are rational businessmen who only commit crimes in the name of the intrinsic logic of business (Wright, 2011, p. 722). Hence, even though these men are criminals, they display the masculine traits of competition and rationality. In other words, they embody the homo economics, which within the neoliberal ethos of our time is generally the most favoured mode of being. The government has, in this fashion, by attaching the stereotypical idea of masculinity to the drug lords, argued that as long as you are not involved in the drug business you will be safe. This not only turns the responsibility towards women, it also leads to impunity on the side of the perpetrator. In 2018 alone, 93 percent of crimes were either not reported or not investigated (Sandin, 2020, para. 1) It is also worth adding that the connection between drug cartels and the femicide has not yet been proven. The common consensus from scholars is rather that the deaths are the result of prevalent misogyny and impunity in Mexico (Wright, 2011, p. 720-722: B & M).
    Bringing this back to Rancière, what becomes apparent now within the context of the Mexican femicide is that by creating a discourse that turns responsibility of the victims inwards, the government attempts to establish a consensus in which the victims and the mere existence of the femicide is to be pushed to the margins of society. Thus, the presence of the femicide, is, for reasons of personal interest, policed into babble. Consequently, it becomes possible to discredit all claims to justice.
    This consensus has direct impacts on society at large. The patriarchal framework within which Mexican society functions finds itself embedded even deeper than it was before. For it is not only the victims that are made unintelligible, it is also the women within the country at large. Today in Mexico, it is common for women to be held accountable of their own misfortunes (ie. rape, violence, death…), etc. and encouraged to be silent about it (Valero, 2020, para. 7-8). It is, after all, no coincidence that a common saying in Mexico is: "you look more beautiful in silence" (Marques & Bindi, p. 288). This consensus penetrates the lives of all women by forcing them to battle between what they would want to do and what they should do. Marques and Bindi (2017) put it in different terms; "women must foresee their own murders" (p. 295). In this way, being invisible has little to do with physical absence, but rather their communicative inexistence. Women's experiences are made to be unreal, un-sensible. Judith Butler’s statement “specific lives cannot be apprehended as injured or lost if they are not first apprehended as living”, resonates strongly here (Butler, 2016, p. 1). The women of Northern Mexico are framed by the government in such a way that we do not recognise the people who are to be killed as living fully grievable lives.

A Poetic Response to Femicide
“Here they go
breasts bitten,
hands tied,
their bodies burned to a crisp,
their bones polished by the sand of the desert.
They are called
the dead women that no one knows no one saw being killed,
they are called
chucked away,
they are called meat,
they are called meat” (Rivera, 2017).

This extract from the poem, The Dead, written by Maria Rivera, highlights the suffering endured by the female victims of the violence taking place in Mexico. The femicide and violence towards women has received much attention from poets. They attempt to either call out the Mexican government for standing idle in the face of violence or represent the suffering of the women’s lived experiences. The poem, The Dead, by Maria Rivera which is to be found in its english translation in the appendix, speaks to all of the victims of the violence in Mexico.
    In an interview with Rivera, the poet indicated that it was the misogynistic violence against women directed by the Mexican government in Ciudad Juarez, which had sparked her desire to carry out an ambitious poetic project. Rivera writes because she understands the distribution of the sensible which is at play in Mexican society. Her poem exemplifies the silence enforced on the victims: "here they come, the dead so alone, so mute, so much ours" (Rivera, 2019). She wants to give a name to those who have become 'mute' and “the events that were being silenced: clandestine graves, the mass murder of migrants, anti-female gender violence, agony that occurred without being given a name” (Rivera, 2017). The poem is a bold attempt to subvert the popular discourse, which she interprets as fascist, that has become entrenched in the country. This discourse, which was outlined in earlier parts of this essay, turns the blame towards the victims: “they were not considered ‘victims’ only occasionally ‘collateral damage’” Rivera says (Rivera, 2017). She also powerfully illustrates this narrative in her poem:

“they are called,
women who go out alone to bars at night,
they are called,
working women who leave their homes at dawn.” (Rivera, 2017)

Similar to Rancière, Rivera too identifies the close link between art and politics, for she says that the “importance of poetry (...) has also to do with its capacity to move into other aesthetic experiences, to offer a new vision of the concrete world in which we live” (Rivera, 2017). This is exactly what Rancières evokes with dissensus; this sudden presence of two worlds in one that causes the ultimate dismantling of the current distribution of the sensible and thereby paves the way for dissensus.

Changing the Distribution

In what follows, I aim to restage the poetry of Rivera by way of thinking it in conjunction with Rancière’s writing on art, in order to understand how exactly The Dead creates dissensus.
    I want to begin by engaging with one of Rivera's remarks in her interview. Rivera says that she could not stand the fact that much of the poetry that had been written before hers, sugar-coated the heinous crimes with the aesthetic nature of the poetic language, and therefore wanted to write a poem that would unmask the atrocities inflicted on the victims in Mexico. "In order to achieve this I denatured poetry, divorcing it from the aesthetic function still assigned to it by many.", Rivera says (2017).
    Coupling her wishes to denaturise poetry with Rancière's investigation of the Plebeian secession in Rome 494 BCE makes for an interesting analysis. Although recounting the details of the secession would go beyond my point, the important matter is that the plebeian's were only perceived as able to produce noise by the gods. The plebeian, in order to achieve equal status and recognition, not only had to speak, but also create a whole dramaturgy to make their very act of speaking, thinkable (Breaug & Lederhendler, 2016, pp. 93-95). This creation of a new dramatic art, a new way of speaking, is exactly the first step that Rivera embarks on during her poetic project, which, in her case, is done by 'denaturising' language.
    As follows, Rivera has written her poem, The Dead. In this poem, she speaks of individual murders and reportages: "I decided to expose their history, their wounded bodies, their vulnerable human nature" (Rivera, 2017). By doing so she paints a picture of the collective experience of suffering and brutality. Thereby, Rancière's community of sense, or in other words, communities of visibility and sensation within the political orders, emerge (Hinderliter, 2009)
    To materialise these communities of sense, Rancière points out that "the problem is not whether or not to show the horrors suffered by the victims of this or that violence" (Rancière & Concoran, 2015, p. 144). Rather, what is necessitated "is the construction of the victim as an element of a certain distribution of the visible" (p. 144). The Dead does exactly this for Rivera first remarks the position and invisibility of the victims within the distribution: "the women with their coccyx split apart, those with their heads smashed in (…) they are called (…) the remains, corpses, the deceased" (Rivera, 2017). Thereafter, Rivera utters their names, their ages: "here they go María, Juana, Petra, Carolina, 13, 18, 25, 16" (Rivera, 2017). This is significant as it makes the victims thinkable in common experience and gives these bodies the attention they deserve. No longer are these women corpses, disjointed, dismembered with their "coccyx split apart", but they have names, faces, which, given the popularity of these names in Mexico, become familiar.
    Having said that, showing the suffering endured by the victims of violence also has the opportunity to create a change in common perception. The poem does this by recounting glimpses of women's experiences, of humiliation, rape and essentially death: "breasts bitten, hands tied, their bodies burned to a crisp" (Rivera, 2017). These verses abruptly identify the harm done to the subjects and thereby opens to question the natural order and perceptions of a community, establishing new ways of creating recognition for marginalised subjects.
    Creating this recognition requires the artistic message to have an audience to enact a suspenseful existence. Let us imagine now, the time Rivera performed her poem in the centre of Mexico City in front of thousands of people (Poema "los muertos", 2011). In these moments, individual and collective sufferings were suddenly delivered publicly. The public will then listen and interpret the poem. Most strikingly, in these moments of interpretation, Rivera's poem does not offer the opportunity for the audience to disentangle and estrange themselves from its narrative for she says: "they are called people, they are called pleading, they were called I, they were called you, they were called us" and later again: "here they come, the dead so alone, so much ours (…) set beneath the enormous sky of Anáhuac" (Rivera, 2017). Both collective responsibility and a sense of community is thrusted upon the spectator, obliterating any possibility of creating difference. For Rivera's audience, on the local level, is unable to untangle themselves from 'the skies' under which they stand, and the narco-political state in which they find-themselves; and on the international level, is unable to detach itself from patriarchy which makes its presence all around the globe.
    Furthermore, the poetry of Rivera no longer reaches the confinements of that square in Mexico City. The Dead has transgressed national boundaries and become an international emblem for the violence in Mexico allowing for interpretation through vast networks of individuals and communities. It has been re-appropriated by others in video-art, music, performance, theatre, painting and activism. The poem has been read by other poets, in front of other crowds, in front of legislatures, in different formats; re-appropriated and rewritten to speak to different victims (Rivera, 2017). This exemplifies the coming into being of a new kind of language that has replaced the old muffled discourse on women; the old discourse has now been replaced by a critical discourse. This critical discourse speaks to an emancipated spectator, who’s interpretation and re-appropriation is significant towards re-articulating the discourse on women, not only in Mexico, but all over the world. This dissemination, and continuous introduction of autonomy for the spectator, challenges the perception of the community and shows the political promise of female emancipation that the poem, and poetry in general, holds. Poetry offers an equality which can allow the victims to become and hold centre space in the political arena in which usually the elites and men reside.
    Finally, there is also an undeniable connection between The Dead and Rancière's understanding of policing. Let us remind ourselves that policing, for Rancière, means the upholding of the consensus of who is to be sensible and who is not. Policing becomes apparent in this context when one realises the fear the poem has produced within the government. The government of Mexico censured the poem from two of the most famous news outlets in a further attempt to render the victims invisible and maintain the consensus (Rivera, 2017). Rivera explains in her interview that what she came to understand from this censorship is that it was not her that the government wanted to censor, but rather: “the voices of others, the collective experience, painful and unjust, of those who had been discarded from the national consciousness for reasons of class and gender” (Rivera, 2017).
    Rivera calls this ‘the ‘dangers of poetry’ and ‘nature of poetry’. Poetry is much more than just an aesthetically insignificant form of art which evokes emotion by trivialising horrors, rather it is a political tool which if used correctly can wield great political power (Rivera, 2017). Rancière would go on to say that not only does the poem wield political power, but its mere existence is political. The Dead is political because it creates real effects producing a change in what is seen and heard by creating new perceptions of the material world.


We have seen that the government of Mexico has attempted to silence the women who have fallen victims from the femicide in Northern Mexico. The results of this have in first terms, increased impunity on the side of the offenders and secondly, caused the victims and women to be increasingly pushed to the margins of society.
    Aesthetics, to hear, to see, to sense, is subject to change through the arts. Poems like The Dead written by Maria Rivera demolish the consensus which policing attempts to reinforce, which in the case of Mexico, was to silence the victims of the femicide and turn their voices into babble that is best left unattended. The very political nature of art opens up the possibility of a change in the distribution of the sensible. This essay has not only been an attempt to contribute to the academic world, but also has been an attempt at exemplifying that even if a problem is half the world away, there is a possibility to create change. Simply by interacting with the issue, there can be a direct effect on social injustice.
    It is worth noting, that for the case of Mexico, the persons who have been victims of femicide are dead, which entails that they do not await sensing. Rather, the families who have lost loved ones in the face of these atrocities, the women who do not dare to leave their homes at night, the women who are afraid to refuse sex, these are the very people whose voices are to be heard. And from that, what is needed: a complete reversal of the patriarchal and narco-political system which enables these murders to go on unnoticed. If Rancières is right, art can, and will, continue aiding this emancipation.


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The Dead
Here they come
the decapitated,
the amputees,
the torn into pieces,
the women with their coccyx split apart,
those with their heads smashed in,
the little ones crying
inside dark walls
of minerals and sand.
Here they come
those who sleep in buildings
that house secret tombs:
they come with their eyes blindfolded,
their hands tied,
shot between their temples.
Here come those who were lost in Tamaupilas,
in-laws, neighbours,
the woman they gang raped before killing her,
the man who tried to stop it and received a bullet,
the woman they also raped, who escaped and told the story
comes walking down Broadway,
consoled by the wail of the ambulances,
the hospital doors,
light shining on the waters of the Hudson.
Here they come
the dead who set out from Usulután,
from La Paz
from La Unión,
from La Libertad,
from Sonsonate,
from San Salvador,
from San Juan Mixtepec,
from Cuscatlán,
from El Progreso,
from El Guante,
those who were given the goodbye at a karaoke party,
and were found shot in Tecate.
Here comes the one they forced to dig his brother’s grave,
the one they murdered after collecting a four thousand dollar ransom,
those who were kidnapped
with a woman they raped in front of her eight year old son
three times.
Where do they come from,
from what gangrene,
oh lymph,
the bloodthirsty,
the heartless,
the murdering
Here they come,
the dead so alone, so mute, so much ours,
set beneath the enormous sky of Anáhuac,
they walk,
they drag themselves,
with their bowl of horror in their hands,
their terrifying tenderness.
They are called
the dead that they found in a ditch in Taxco,
the dead that they found in remote places of Chihuahua,
the dead that they found strewn across plots of crops,
the dead that they found shot in la Marquesa,
the dead that they found hanging from bridges,
the dead that they found without heads on common land,
the dead that they found at the side of the road,
the dead that they found in abandoned cars,
the dead that they found in San Fernando,
those without number they cut into pieces and have still not been found,
the legs, the arms, the heads, the femurs of the dead
dissolved in drums.
They are called
remains, corpses, the deceased,
they are called
the dead whose mothers do not tire of waiting,
the dead whose children do not tire of waiting,
the dead whose wives do not tire of waiting,
they imagine them in subways, among gringos.
They are called
baby clothes woven in the casket of the soul,
the little tee shirt of a three-month-old
the photo of a toothless smile,
they are called mamita,
they are called
little kicks
in the tummy
and the newborn’s cry,
they are called four children,
Petronia (2), Zacarías (3), Sabas (5), Glenda (6)
and a widow (a girl) who fell in love at primary school,
they are called wanting to dance at fiestas,
they are called blushing of hot cheeks and sweaty hands,
they are called boys,
they are called wanting
to build a house,
laying bricks,
giving food to my children,
they are called two dollars for cleaning beans,
houses, estates, offices,
they are called
crying of children on earth floors,
the light flying over the birds,
the flight of pigeons in the church,
they are called
kisses at the river’s edge,
they are called
Gelder (17)
Daniel (22)
Filmar (24)
Ismael (15)
Agustín (20)
José (16)
Jacinta (21)
Inés (28)
Francisco (53)
in the scrubland,
hands tied
in the gardens of ranches,
in the gardens of ‘safe’ houses,
in some forgotten wilderness,
disintegrating mutely
and in secret,
they are called
secrets of hitmen,
secrets of slaughter,
secrets of policemen,
they are called sobbing,
they are called mist,
they are called body,
they are called skin,
they are called warmth,
they are called kiss,
they are called hug,
they are called laughter,
they are called people,
they are called pleading,
they were called I,
they were called you,
they were called us,
they are called shame,
they are called sobbing.
Here they go
breasts bitten,
hands tied,
their bodies burned to a crisp,
their bones polished by the sand of the desert.
They are called
the dead women that no one knows no one saw being killed,
they are called
women who go out alone to bars at night,
they are called
working women who leave their homes at dawn,
they are called
chucked away,
they are called meat,
they are called meat.
without flowers,
without tombstones,
without an age,
without a name,
without sobbing,
they sleep in their cemetery:
its name is Temixco,
its name is Santa Ana,
its name is Mazatepec,
its name is Juárez,
its name is Puente de Ixtla,
its name is San Fernando,
its name is Tlaltizapán,
its name is Samalayuca,
its name is el Capulín,
its name is Reynosa,
its name is Nuevo Laredo,
its name is Guadalupe,
its name is Lomas de Poleo,
its name is Mexico.