Santa Muerte, escúchame. Pretty
Lady, hear me. It’s not alms that I crave
but a submarine for my poetry.
Submarino del poeta. With wave
and tide, with cat and book, I’ll learn liquid
-rolling verbs, new words for endless motion.
Is a boat too much? I’m not craving blood.
Mother mine, mi madre, if your children
in FARC have one, might I too? They call theirs,
“Narco barco.” But mine will be your shrine
in the brine; a place to write, sail and pray
under a seafaring sky. Hear my prayers,
Pretty Lady. Mamá Roja Divine.
Grant me: Templo de la Santa Muerte.
We call her Our Lady of the Holy Death (Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte). She is a folk saint, unrecognized by the Catholic church but worshiped by both members of law enforcement and Narco cartels. Outcasts and outlaws are drawn to her for it is said that she answers prayers immediately and protects against violent death. I use several Spanish words and phrases in the poem. “Escúchame,” translates into, “listen to me.” “Narco barco.” is slang for any sort of boat used in drug smuggling. According to the BBC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) once utilized homemade submarines for that purpose, each costing around £1.3 million to build and could hold a crew of five.