Mike Soto


In the beginning there was murder, & out
of murder shadows & barking ran up
to read ciphers on walls, cold-blooded

creatures plotted their revenge behind
smoke. Under pointy brims names
crossed out from grocery lists, fates

determined by the jeweled hands
of a father who landed his first born
into a pair of alligator boots

by the age of five. Birds reassembled
on the first lines between poles after
shots were fired into a Mercury Topaz.

In that silence that’s always been the silence
most alive. Mindless bodies, armless minds,
tattooed Marys over scarred wrists,

R.I.P. murals for miles. A shopping cart
full of prayer candles for students not
killed, but handed over, not disappeared,

but missing still. Gossip tangled up with
truth from the start. Turf wars over which
version of time would survive, mothers

bleeding from blown out windows,
sons deaf now for life. Revenge invented
because justice was not. The first day

a table filled with half-empty cups,
set up to be snatched by streets
of desperate runners even then.

Mike Soto’s poetry has recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in Gulf Coast, PANK, Fugue, Hot Metal Bridge, Michigan Quarterly Review, and others. “Fue El Estado” takes its title from the rallying cry after 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers college in Guerrero, Mexico were forcibly disappeared. Evidence points to federal and local officials, military personnel, police and bus drivers, all being complicit in handing over the students to their killers, who then burned their bodies and threw the remains into a river. The phrase translates, “It Was The State.”