Trigger Warnings

The Orchid Mantis lashes out,
snatches a hummingbird
in open daylight. A child

traverses the birth canal
in time to get slapped,
take its first breath.

A monk douses himself
on fire while bystanders
slurp Phô and thumb

Instagram. In this life
silence comes at a price,
a man chain smokes cigars

missing everyone gone.
He opts for a slow death,
gambles on the stats.

All of it a reminder
that somewhere a switch
board operator is absent.

And we delight in pushing
All the wrong buttons.
Waiting for the quiet end.


That sound you hear
in the distance
are the children
rattling in the cages.

Their moans deafen
the vain preacher
who bites the head off
snakes and begs

for forgiveness. My wife
points out my toy nails
are long. My hands
tremble some ancient

tune to remind us
we’ve not been here before.
The hour of no return
is upon us all, and yet

you keep polishing your
guns. Foolishness and bluff.
You’ve cursed all children
with lies and chuck&jive.

Into the dust and rubble
we go and the earth shall
not welcome us ever again.
So it is written in sick blood.


After midnight they emerge from the woods
and gather around a fire. Wrapped in dark
frocks and blankets, they huddle and stay warm.

The fire yellows their faces as they clasp hands.
The leaden air feels heavy and hard to breathe.
All of them have been poisoned, some show

the sickness in their eyes and exposed flesh.
They sing. They cry. The small children hide
their faces in the extra folds of the garments.

They are dying. They are singing about dying.
The men, first responders, rushed into the hell
of the burning reactors at the power plant.

The men will never return. The women stare
at the fire, their breaths mix with the night’s dew.
Nobody will be here at sunrise, the fire smolders

into orange embers, ashes dance in the breeze.

Artist Statement:
Both my photographs and mixed media art try to capture the erasure of time.  Both also concern themselves with decay, detritus, and the decomposition of man-made things.  Both of these things also inform my poetry and writing.  Nature wins each and every time.  Humankind eventually will perish and the planet will recalibrate itself.  Even in the face of some cataclysmic and or nuclear disaster the planet will survive and morph into something new.  I am also concerned with the plight of the underdog, the inaudible voices that perish daily trying to survive.  My attempt to preserve witness to the mundane and the daily grind of lives being worn down to nothing.

Virgil Suárez was born in Havana, Cuba in 1962.  At the age of twelve he arrived in the United States.  He received an MFA from Louisiana State University in 1987. His work has appeared in a multitude of magazines and journals internationally. He has been taking photographs on the road for the last three decades.  When he is not writing, he is out riding his motorcycle up and down the Blue Highways of the Southeast, photographing disappearing urban and rural landscapes.  His 10th volume of poetry, THE PAINTED BUNTING’S LAST MOLT, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in the Spring of 2020.