6 poems | Luis Lopez-Maldonado



For the 50 dead and 53 injured at Pulse


Orlando, the land of bees & honey

white & black wales, princes & princesses

taking pictures w/ Mickey Mouse,


Orlando, rainbow flags flying flawlessly

outside bars & clubs, your eyes

of glass & glee & glitter,


Orlando! Get up from bloody floors

from hiding indoors

from republicans calling us whores,

get up w/ your bullet wounds

your black eyes, broken hearts,


Orlando, love is love is love is love is love

& no gun can shoot it away, no hate

can break what God has made:

We are praying praying praying.





For those lost in the Orlando shooting on June 12, 2016


Running out of who knows where

wearing God who knows what,

my lungs zippering shut:

Tonight we weep. We reek of status updates,

“Pray for Orlando” “We are Orlando”

“50 DEAD, 53 INJURED.”

It could have been me.


Tonight I smoke a Camel Crush

and improvise a love letter to the sky,

to the butterflies floating above Pulse

floating above cold red bodies:

bones are cheese not stone, more air than marrow.

It could have been me.


Bullets puncturing my heart and knees,

Lady Gaga on the screens, gin and tonic in my right.

It could have been me, a bleeding mouth for cameras to see,

Florida Police yelling at me, “Keep running! Go! Go! Go!”

It could have been me.


Brothers, I know you are dead

and your mothers with ripped wombs wounds

grab your pictures and crumple them in their hands,

and the last amen is uttered:

stars shooting wildly into the night, into you

as you danced danced danced, away.


It could have been me.




SPARKLE on the Face of Darkness


For the victims of the Orlando Massacre, 6.12.16


Do not erase

my queerness

in your silence,

in your lighting

of candles and

attending vigils,

Tweeting and


status updates,

do not erase

my color

in your taking

taking it off,

always peeling

it from ,


I don’t exist,

do not erase

the 50 names

with last names

you cannot

pronounce correctly,

cannot seem

to whisper a simple

prayer or an

I love you

I miss you

I wish I knew you:


Don’t scrape

my glitter off,

the only glint

of hope left

in this dark

dark night.







For Orlando 6.12.16


Like cattle, the way you

cover your children’s eyes

when you spot a rainbow flag

when you see two men kissing,

like cattle, the way you

pray pray pray the gay away

blame your failures

on our short shorts

on our cucumber facials

on our tattooed smiles,

the way you Tweet

“they had it coming”

“God condemned homosexuality”

like cattle, the way you

want Straight Pride

to be a thing, the way you

ban us from bathrooms

for being somewhere in the middle:


like cattle, you kill kill kill us

when you feel like it

when you don’t feel like it

when you need more milk.






For my brothers and sisters


Maybe there is a God above

Maybe 53 of me have to be shot

Maybe 50 of me need to be killed

Maybe Mother Mary is on sabbatical

Maybe there is an explanation for it all


The victims identified so far in the Orlando shooting:

Stanley Almodovar III, 23

Amanda Alvear, 25

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22

Mercedes Marisol Flores, 26

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25

Kimberly Morris, 37

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50

Luis S. Vielma, 22

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37

Luis Damian Lopez-Maldonado, 31

*Many many more


Whisper their names into the wind

Say a prayer or two to La Virgen De Guadalupe

Light a candle in their memory

Because there has to be more to this

Than hate, than guns guns guns


Maybe there is nothing up there after all

Maybe all there is, is right here infront of us

Maybe all we gotta do is love:

Love is love is love is love, islove.




When Two Men Kissed


For Orlando


There are 7 flies

in the living room today,

windows open

Washington Heights up & alive

siempre revolucionando

always walk walking in crews,

but you see: tonight

south of us a whole community

will disappear, brown & black bodies

will hit the floors like dominos

& bullet bullet holes will penetrate

limbs & hearts & walls ,


You killed us.


I cross out names & it’s poetry.

God does the same thing &

You’re all dead. 50 times,


You killed us.


Can you hear our pulse?

Can you see our commitment to you?

Can you feel our tired tired hearts?


You killed us.


Don’t give us your prayers

Don’t give us your Facebook likes

Don’t give us lit candles & salty tears

Don’t give us rainbow lighting on buildings

Don’t give us your pity,


You killed us.


Give us a hug

Give us our basic human rights

Give us acceptance,


You killed us.

50 times.



Luis Lopez-Maldonado is a Xicano poet born and raised in Orange County, California. He has a Masters in Dance from Florida State University and is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate for Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame. His work has been seen in The American Poetry Review, The Packing House Review, and As/Us, among many others.


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