Back to Issue Forty-Five




“Too many chains, need another chest.”
– Nipsey Hussle


One for every parent. Teachers and

homies. Call this drip memoriam.

Twenty-four inches of gold say they

on my heart. Gone but never plated.

Pay respect by paying for the real.

Walk into funeral home stillness.

Walk into jewelry store buzzing.

Ancestors keep me shining. Pop’s chain

Herringbone. Broken clasp. Dented/Blessed.

See flex, see coping mechanism.

Retail therapy or how I let

you know who blesses me? Their promised

cliche halos on my collarbone.

Heaven of my brain around my neck?

I don’t want grief looking good on me.

Chains for every obituary?

I don’t got it. I’m deep in my bag.

I’m mourning. I got my dead on me.


Shoutout to the Dead, to the Dead, to the Dead



Inspired by Baby Keem’s trademark usa

Every voice we miss. We sing for the dead.
Not much hope. We try laughing for the dead.

Grieve like this. Blame another for the death.
Grieve like that. Pour libations for the dead.

Ain’t care ‘bout my face. Just ‘bout Pop’s jacket.
Fuck your Dad! Earthed his dumbass for the dead.

Begging Abuela Ana for her strength.
For the living. Staying strong for the dead.

Got a reading from my Babalawo.
Gotta warn Mom bout her blood for the dead.

Could count. One hand. How much I swore on them.
Dead in your eye. Never lie on the dead!

Too many times, I’ve been my biggest threat.
Oshun watches over me with the dead.

Learned to hold my lunch at funerals.
Gotta make sure folks are good for the dead.

My ancestors stay lining my muscles.
Might feel weak but never am. Bless the dead.


The Golden Herringbone



After Gwendolyn Brooks

Choosing life shouldn’t be a choice. I

don’t know what has hurt you. I assure

you, life can be much sweeter to you.

When you aren’t sweet to yourself, death

rings its hundred melting bells and will

feed on your stillness. Burn sage and wait.

Today doesn’t want your last breath. Death

wants you tender from your mistakes, has

dreams of your face wrinkling into a

smile despite all that you’ve survived. Lot

turned garden turned home turned a life of

your favorite music, body like time.

Fluid. Unstoppable. Graceful. Death

warded away by miracles. Can

you be the miracle and attend

to your needs like a beloved to

become someone you love? Today you

deserve joy and again; tomorrow

Gabriel Ramirez is a Queer Afro-Latinx poet and teaching artist. Gabriel has received fellowships from Palm Beach Poetry Festival, The Watering Hole, The Conversation Literary Arts Festival, CantoMundo, Miami Book Fair, and a participant in the Callaloo Writer’s Workshops. You can find his work in publications like Muzzle, The Volta, Split This Rock, VINYL, Acentos Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly as well as Bettering American Poetry Anthology (Bettering Books 2017), What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump (Northwestern University Press 2019), and The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNEXT (Haymarket Press 2020). Learn more about Gabriel @RamirezPoet and

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