T R A N S L A T I O N 

B Y   J U L I A N   R A N D A L L

Julian Randall is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. He is a 2016 Callaloo fellow, Lois Morrell Poetry Prize winner and the 2015 National College Slam (CUPSI) Best Poet. He is also a co-founder of the Afrolatinx poetry collective Piel Cafe. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Nepantla, Winter Tangerine Review, Vinyl, Puerto del Sol and African Voices. He is a candidate for his MFA in Poetry at Ole Miss.

My mother hangs up the phone
scrapes loose the tears
prepares to tell me
who is dying    this time

I speak no Spanish
my mother is the translator
of the dying
my family is always the dying
I say family despite the fact
I have attended none of their funerals

My abuelita was a ricocheting ghost
she died once    and I forgot
an entire language

Ok    I didn’t forget
it just became inconvenient to remember
who wants a language for the living anyway?

An inventory of my tongue
yields nothing
that looks like my mother
the resemblance stops at the mouth

She is fluent in a language
I am only ever ugly in
she falls asleep in front of the tv
her show muted    
I wonder if in her dreams 
I can speak

​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L