from Heart Diseases

Oriette D'Angelo

Caracas, in Your Absence I Know I’ll Find My Name

He who comes with lead, with lead shall leave.

Caracas is a woman with a chest full of bullets. I am a foreigner next to so much lead. The myth of the sleeping volcano observes us, mocks us for being incompetent. City of fathers and forbears. The Caracas between the teeth that we refuse to let go, of blocked bloodstream. City whom I fear. Her— the one of neighborhoods in form of avalanche that pretends to be a commune, the one with the clogged arteries. Caracas, empty oxygen tank and emergency room of the everyday. Morgue. The one with guns. The one I don’t want to be when I leave, and the one I don’t want to become me.

Caracas, the only woman who forces you to love her while she aims at your temple.

Too Much Bone,
Too Much Calcium

We know nothing about the end until we crack.

Ribs only make noise when they break. We asked love to be a bridge across ravines, and there we stayed, suspended. I always thought your mouth would taste like aspirin. [angina pectoris. localized sensation of strangulation that lasts 15 minutes before the heart attack] Leaving you alleviated the sensation of sudden death. Leaving you was as easy as a wound cured by alcohol. A few minutes to pass, to become the corpse-of-so-and-so, to become someone-else’s-burden. Throwing myself into the void was always my thing. [and I broke down.] Too much bone, too much calcium. There was so much to shatter that you decided to love me little. You left me with my body swollen with trees. With a fractured imagination. I asked our love to be a bridge over a ravine, but it only became a preventative measure, to avoid falling into the void too soon.


Fifteen Minutes to Become Posthumous
For Yani

City of cardiovascular accidents. Streets like broken veins full of cholesterol. City of two-wheeled missiles. City of Yani Conte assassinated. Incomplete dream with insomnia. The knives say a man is a common crime, that an unpunished assassination is a negligent case file. Have you ever seen a blood stain on concrete? It looks like an oil stain, but thicker, humbler than petroleum, more sincere. Everything about Yani became posthumous, and in the afterdeath, he doesn’t stop singing. The knives say what the city hushes and still they speak more than they should. I go out into the street and see an assassin in every man. One stab / two stabs / six stabs. There is no exact number in the variables of the duel. The wounded body displays the cowardice of the attack: the inexact gash from the novice assassin. The locale of coincidence: the Caracas lost. Three fifty-five. Four ten in the morning. Fifteen minutes to become posthumous. The rest of the story erased by the getaway.

Cowardice is spelled with the C of Caracas. The assassin’s hand is a forged fingerprint, modified DNA. Fifteen minutes and Yani Conte doesn’t tell. All that’s left is a city to swallow like dust and remember.


Criminal Syndrome

Syndrome, of the Greek συνδρομή. Subscription. Symptom of asymptomatic charts. To exit or not to exit. Barricade yourself so they don’t kill you. Die barricaded, of the Greek πεθaνω κλειδωμενο. Disease of gunshots and vicious cycles. Pathology of a country in ruins. Autistic citizenry. Amok Syndrome disguised as flag [sans suicide], with an appetite for destruction. Plan designed for survival.

To kill and die for a sack of flour. Kill and die for a smartphone. Kill and die because you butt your nose in my life. Kill and die because you annoy me. Kill and die because you don’t have cancer and should die [same], next to what I leave you, if I don’t take it from you.

Syndrome of flag broken and in splinters. Syndrome of oil nation full of gasoline in the ears. Syndrome of national embarrassment. Syndrome of a country that takes up the entire list of diseases with no vaccine. Syndrome of knee on ground and hands in the air. Syndrome of national bored and tired. Of protest bored and tired. Of thief thirsty and bored. Syndrome of everything we are without what we are because we have nothing, of ruptured platelets in the hospital because there are no supplies, and of deadly vaccine without prescription, because we are still people and we deserve to keep trying. Terminal syndrome of a nation consumed in a war that isn’t us and which we deserve for being us, those of the Caribbean with the sun on our backs and the beach in our faces.

We are the boat on which no one sails, and with no known antidote to protect us.


In Case of Fire, Break Glass

A broken past is nothing.
In the end you realize it was never whole at all
—Manolo García

Tick-tock on fingertips. You are a banned unit of convention. [minute hand torn.] The emptiness of a name. Absent ownership. My broken past. Rib cage devoured by dogs. Designated vagabond.  

I dream that I burn in your lap. Dream that the fire is a cruel love affair next to a pack of wild dogs. I dream that you save me while you leave me in ashes, in the cremation field that you made body. In case of fire, break glass. In case of fire, break into tears. Die on time. Seek refuge, for where there are three, there is never one to save you.

translated from the Spanish by Lupita Eyde-Tucker