From Trump to feminism The Mexican tradition of Calaveras poems

Edited by Claudia Meléndez Salinas

Literary “calaveras” are a Mexican tradition that was born during the Colonial era and is tied to the Day of the Dead. They originated as criticism of high society and people in positions of power, and were one of the few ways in which the people could air their grievances. Calaveritas are humorous poems about real people and real issues, comical epitaphs for the living aimed at being dead serious.

We present you here with calaveras from four writers: Salvador Muñoz Frías, local architect, writer and artist; Hyza Ruano, binational writer and artist with roots in the Jalisco Highlands and Zacatecas; and Adela Castillo and José Alejandro Morán, founders of the annual event “Noche Bohemia” in Salinas.

Family Unit
Salvador Muñoz

Breaking news, breaking hearts
Children caged, people enraged,
Families ties broken, goodbye family unit
I. P. human rights for the wrong reasons.

Salvador Muñoz

The press depressed
Lies after lies,
The Trump pet in the White House
Declares Enemy of the People;
Truth after truth pressing
Floods the voting urns
A Tsunami of women vote

The Wall
Salvador Muñoz

The wall entombs
fractured families
Cages children as birds
The land of the free
Immigrants no longer be,
Refuge for the rich
Cages for the poor,
All fall in the grave,
Goodbye human rights
A coffin entombs
In the G. O. P. mind

A (feminist) collection of letters
Hyza Ruano
Translation: Claudia Meléndez Salinas

And let go, Olga, of your skeleton
Let go already and let it dance
Let it shake its pelvis
Let your toothless one enjoy

And let go already, Olga, of your skeleton
That bald one could get sick
Better let her go all out
Better take her drinking to a nightclub

And let go, Olga, of your bony one already
Let her already! She’ll suffocate
Remember, time flows like water
Remember to achieve your dreams

And let loose a little, Olga
Better make the guitar sound
Stop pleasing just anyone
Better go out dancing tonight

And they can say whatever they want!
And your old man will find no dinner tonight
And all your neighborhood will explode
And so what…

We already know you were not born to be a saint.

To a politician
José Alejandro Morán
Translation: Claudia Meléndez Salinas

Once upon a time
There was a politician who sold out
Who only sought votes
To be re-elected
And when Death arrived
She said “What happened
To all the promises
That you made to the nation?
He said: One moment
Let’s talk about your grief
I’ll do whatever it takes
To give you some dough
Death, already impatient
With so much chit-chat
Took the politician
To the cemetery
In broad daylight
And it is said that, on his tomb
A sign now hangs that says
When it rains, I promise you water,
And light, when the sun shines.

To the Organizers of Noche Bohemia
By Adela Castillo
Translation: Claudia Meléndez Salinas

Death dressed up as
Sor Juana Inés de  la Cruz,
And under dim lights
To Noche Bohemia it arrived

On her bicycle she rode
And with a book of poems
Arrived at Sherwood Hall
Ready to empty her sorrows

Among troubadours and poets
Amateurs and professionals
She appeared, a bit flustered
Her eyes ready to pop out

She told participants
In a recriminating tone
“I see your flyer everywhere
Even in my Dreams, Mon Dieu!

In “El Tianguis” Magazine
In all the social networks
In The Herald Newspaper
In El Sol and even on TV

You have so inspired me
That today I’ll please you all
With my poem
Stubborn Men
That I come to recite

And since the organizers
Only allow you to recite two
I’ll take them both first
And everything will go my way

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Claudia Meléndez Salinas

About Claudia Meléndez Salinas

Claudia Meléndez Salinas is an author, journalist, open water swimmer, and cat lover. | Claudia Meléndez Salinas es autora, periodista, nadadora de aguas abiertas, y aficionada a los gatos.