Hurricane Memorials / Unnatural Disasters

Hurricane Memorials / Unnatural Disasters

Patricia Coral

Hurricane Memorials

Where do we visit the dead,
the owners of the missing bodies?

Bury the unclaimed, they said.

What if we have claims
but not a body?
Where do we lay them?

They built a memorial
in the shape of a hurricane.
Buried the decomposed,
the unidentified.
Brought jazz,
left plastic flowers
under the heat

We piled up sneakers, sandals,
loafers, flip-flops, boots
of bodies stolen.
Tied their names
to our ribcages

until they faded.



The italics in the middle are expressions from Carmen Yulín Cruz, who served as mayor of the city of San Juan from 2013-2020. The italics on the right side are expressions and tweets from Donald Trump, who was the president of the United States from 2017-2021. Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017.


Unnatural Disasters

I am a force. I came to be. I did not choose my name, my path, my strength.

I swiped the coffee beans, the plantains, the pineapples…. swallowed crops my hand did not sow. Ate bridges that crossed rivers, narrow streets in the mountains, schools. Shredded roofs and wooden houses I did not build.

I birthed homelessness.

I lashed El Yunque’s back until it bled brown waterfalls. I crushed its chest. I burned ceibas, mango trees, and orange flamboyants, tore off yellow flowers from the oak trees. I ripped the green and silenced the coqui’s chant.

I am not a friend. Yet, I am not the strongest enemy.

                                                                                                              This is an island,
                                                                                                              surrounded by water,
                                                                                                              big water, ocean water

Sixteen people died while I moved over their land.

                    people are not getting food and water


After I took off, no help could be found at the shore. No drinking water, no food, no gas to restore hospitals’ power. Foreign relief was forbidden by their master.

I am begging you.
Begging anyone
that can hear us
to save us from dying


I hate to tell you Puerto Rico
But you are throwing
our budget out of whack


If I knew I would’ve had mercy. I would’ve killed them faster.

Everyone around this table
And everyone watching
Can be very proud
of what’s taking place
in Puerto Rico


I would’ve made trees fall on their backs. I would’ve cut them in half.

If anybody out there
is listening to us
we are dying here

I would’ve broken their necks, let them drown in every river.

we are going to see something
close to a genocide

They were condemned to a slow death. To the anticipation of death.

we are treated
as animals that can be
disposed of

Dehydration. Hunger. Asphyxia.


you’re killing us


FEMA took over the containers. Diaspora donations were held hostage.

the greatest nation in the world
cannot figure out the logistics
of a small island
of 100 by 35 miles
we’re dying

Messages written on the streets:
we don’t have water

First Responders
are doing a GREAT job
in Puerto Rico

Mayday, we are in trouble

Two, three, four, five months went by. Responders never arrived.

They want everything
to be done for them
Only take from USA


Puerto Ricans started dying. Leptospirosis. Cholera. Sepsis.


Good news story

When you’re drinking from a creek,
it’s not a good news story
When you don’t have food for a baby,
it’s not a good news story

They were condemned to darkness. Eleven months without power. No access to dialysis, cancer treatments, open-heart surgeries…

This is a people-are-dying story
This is a life-or-death story
This is a story of devastation

They kept dying. Asthma attacks. High blood pressure. Renal failures. Strokes.

This is not a good news story

So much money wasted
so little appreciation!

A jíbaro hung himself from a tree branch. Can hopelessness by abandonment be a cause of death?

If you look at
a real catastrophe
like Katrina

I didn’t hide bodies, numbers, the names of the dead. I didn’t drink their blood.

hundreds and hundreds
of people that died
you can be very proud

He can huff and puff all he wants

Puerto Rico was an incredible,
unsung success.

But he cannot escape
the death of 3,000


-Foto de Violette Bule

Patricia Coral es una escritora, educadora y gestora cultural puertorriqueña. Actualmente, está completando su MFA en Creative Writing en American University donde es editora en jefe de la revista literaria FOLIO. También es la Directora de Eventos de Politics and Prose, la librería independiente principal de Washington, D.C. Patricia es escritora de no ficción y poesía, pero con frecuencia sus textos habitan en los espacios híbridos. Su trabajo ha sido publicado en Fireside FictionHouston Public MediaBridgesCrab Fat Magazine, entre otras.


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Posted: August 8, 2022 at 9:09 pm

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