Original poem published in "Queer Latinx Writers Responding to Here, Ahora: Houston, Latinx, Queer Artists Under 30 at Art League Houston," 2019
Death as a Fashion Statement
by Stalina Emmanuelle Villarreal
“I will wear death before I get killed” -Ángel Lartigue
At street risk of being
a victim of a hate
crime, a queer
a un equipo trans.
La voz alta of a song
removed, an androgynous
garment drapes over
the dancer; tied petri dishes
align, covering el cuerpo.
private parts se esconden.
The dancer covers her face
with a pink organic vapor
respirator. Black sleeves without
a shoulder, black gloves and heels.
The amber circles exist as a 1.75
inch radius of microorganisms:
arte científico de borrego
blood agar, cultivated human
cadaver fungi, necro-bacteria,
A Xoloitzcuintle leads spirits
to the underworld and takes
el equipo to the dancefloor where they
dump buckets of burial site materials.
Strangers dance around the powder
dust, composed of human and animal
parts. Against categorization, like trans.
The team collects the remains
with Operation Psychopomp gear,
gloves and covered shoes. A rite
photos and a rhythmic film.
In the aftermath, an installation
of stillness pulls gravity
from a hanger, as the petri-
dish garment gets grounded
by vulture feathers encircled in pink.