Hector Mojena


Hector Mojena is a writer currently based in Oakland Park, Florida. He has published short fiction and non-fiction essays in The Missouri Review, Saw Palm Magazine, Strangeways, and other publications. In addition to writing, Hector enjoys playing the drums and shooting still photography all around the greater Miami area. He can be reached at hectormojena@gmail.com

Los Terminados


         Each time Luis lifted his head above the surf, fractals of bleached sunlight burned brightly in his periphery before fading into the deep white dome of the sky. As he repeatedly submerged himself under the churning seawater to retrieve his boat’s anchor, the shapes replayed with ever-greater clarity, so that the sand appeared to glisten and pulsate with white heat whenever he rose to the surface for a breath. Once he had firmly buried the anchor in the shore, Luis floated on the waves for a while and waited for his vision to restore its own ordered functions of depth and hue. The view before him continued to pulsate with rippling heat, which caused the rows of palms along the coast road to hum in unison, like insects in a perpetually animated hive. Plumes of stygian smoke drifted slowly across the horizon and mingled with the waves of transparent heat, collectively forming a rolling black sheet that overtook sections of the coast road and obscured the cityscape beyond the low mountain range entirely from view.

         Luis climbed back into the tiny fishing boat he had steered from the winding Southern Florida coast and removed a small wooden chest filled with old photographs and rations for his journey, holding the chest as high as he could manage above the churning seawater until he fell bruised and wheezing upon the shore. When he regained himself, Luis began to carefully lay all the photos in a rough sequence upon the sand, settling beneath a grove of waving palms that shielded his tired body from the great gusts of wind ceaselessly whipping the beach. The photos replayed rudiments of time now long gone, when all the Santiagos breathed the same humid air in the tiny rural village that was their namesake. There were familiar images of their stucco-roofed homestead conquered by the branches of mango trees lining the village’s main wall, images of Luis and his father searching for dead fish and washed-up shells along the coast, myriad shots of tios and tias all gathered around dining tables stacked high with the remnants of blackened lechón and gouged pigs’ eyes. Luis and his cousins appeared in many of these monochromatic shots, their bodies arched against the seemingly infinite rows of palms that dominated the rural expanse they often stalked in search of broken tins and black stones. He could scarcely recognize his own dark, mestizo complexion and the rippling muscles of his youthful form duplicated endlessly against the preserved scenes. Luis examined the transformed contours of his own flesh, feeling the rough skin along his swollen forearms, which held its own imprinted memories of the endless rows of shipping containers and tall fishing vessels that constituted his life of ceaseless labor back in his adopted home among los yankees. All that truly remained of his past form was his curled pelo chino, whose luster had vanished in the Florida swamp land only to re-emerge now in the familiar West Indian heat of home. As he lightly traced his fingers over the photos, Luis mapped out a whole narrative world that lived on within him and gained presence only when he placed the photos in sequence, where the figures’ mannered movements and the smooth textured finish of the film collectively formed an animated strip of seemingly inaccessible time.

         Throughout his self-imposed exile in America, Luis had isolated himself within the sphere of his own memory, preserving a whole fixed image of time drawn, like his photographs, from the comforting repetitions of the past. He had refused to learn el ingles out of a strong fear that he could not quite place, as if an ineffable loss of wholeness would result from his venturing too far outside the language that had always animated his tongue. The interior of his tiny apartment too mapped out a whole private landscape of memory: ripped pages from his father’s volumes of poetry hung on all the walls, and the carefully arranged statuettes of Catholic saints and Orishas, all of whom appeared behind the grown image of Elegua holding his hands high in holy reverie, stood just as they always had in his father’s old room. Whenever he read from the pages of Papi’s obsessive letters to the natural world he adored so much, Luis recalled his strong conviction that la familia could not live apart from the sea, that they had emerged from its waves and were animated by its cosmic union with the vast, heavenly bodies del cielo. In the unnatural stillness of the island, so far from Papi’s ecstatic treatises on the constants animating all of creation, Luis wondered where he might be among the many empty homes and long stretches of spiraling road that circulated past the sprawling beach.

         Luis placed the photos back in the chest and stood silently among the dunes. He saw an island mostly emptied of people, intermittent signs of life appearing and then disappearing as the sun slowly sank from the horizon. Farther down the beach, he saw another man fighting against the waves, measured strokes leading him fluidly through the inky waters that funneled coastal surf into the vast expanse of the Atlantic. The man dragged a flotilla behind him, stocked with boxes of personal mementos, just like all the other families Luis imagined had come here before him to set sail. Beyond the shore, Luis could make out more empty rafts riding the current to sea. Many others returned to shore in an unbroken loop, all emptied of their charges and restlessly bobbing on the waves.

         The day’s waning sunlight and the sharp floodlights of distant ships formed a wall of dull amber luminescence all along the coast that seemed to forbid passage. Each of the vacated homes on the beach took the fading light of the sun into their interiors, drawing sharp lines along the coast that formed a chiaroscuro cover of stark light and tall shadows. The weathered roofs of the nearby homes formed a path that the eye could follow straight through the streams of smoke drifting across the horizon, which carried the prevailing smell of discharged cordite that warned bodies from journeying deeper into the island’s grey center. In that distant place, long necked-cranes stood motionless with their syringe-like arms pointing up toward the heavens, their twisting shapes dominating Luis’ periphery like the ominous landmarks of a long-deserted battlefield.

         Luis arrived much too late to see the soldiers swiftly moving down from the mountain range into the villages below, nor did he see the raging fires that had engulfed the tobacco fields in the opening salvo of el revolución. There were no bodies laid end to end along the road, no ongoing evacuations of the rural coast under the watchful eyes of camouflaged soldiers, and no military installations to discover him out in the sprawling country-side. Only the burned-out frames of the disused American cars sitting along the coast road signified the ritualistic re-orienting of the land that delivered its peoples from the watchful eyes of one tyrant unto the printed, scaled gaze of another. Torn images of his rounded, fair-skinned likeness hung along the fractured pillars of the coastal road, his disembodied head closely watching over a stream of campesinos marching in unison behind him toward the city. All those thinning sheets represented the promise of people like Luis and his father finally being written into the heroic narrative of nation, of previously unknown fortunes granted to the voiceless mass through the equalizing waves of revolution. In those images, it did not matter that their backs had always strained under the weight of wars fought for and wealth constantly deferred to the island’s elites, only that their support could be molded to fit the transmitted images and slogans of the new regime. Seeing these images burned the shapes of new words in Luis’ throat, words that he strongly wished he could tell his father now. As Luis walked along the coast road and carefully mapped a path around the drifting clouds of smoke that closed the main road off from the surrounding sea, he started to imagine scenes from the coup as if he were watching a black and white news-strip in a theater: he could clearly see the stock tableaux of frenzied bodies flooding into the island’s metropolitan center in widespread chants of support for el nuevo orden, the marching of soldiers across fields flanked by burning houses and lines of imprisoned dissidents awaiting execution. Each scene possessed the sheen of all those yankee war movies he had seen back in the states, the kind in which soldiers killed with impunity, always impossibly possessed of the moral certainty of demigods.

         Luis diverged from the coast road and began his trek across the sprawling tobacco fields that marked the middle of his passage home. Through the bombed-out fields extended rows of gutted plantation manors and their abandoned workers’ dormitories. Luis removed his own Polaroid 80B film camera from the chest slung along his shoulder and took pictures of all the homes he passed on his route. Stripped of their ornamental stars and opulent outlays, the manses now bore their destroyed facades like hollowed bodies in coffins, as if their destruction collectively formed a continuous putrefying that choked the charred wood and fractured steal beams from their foundations. With each flash of the camera, the exhausted muscles of Luis’ forearms flinched sharply, playing out a nervous loop that signaled the increasing dread animating him on his path home. As he walked along the vine-threaded side roads that broke dirt and concrete from the rural green landscape, Luis fell into a kind of tired trance among the blackened sheets of trees. He listened closely to the alien mélange of humming insects and predatory wildlife stalking the narrow alleys of the surrounding mangrove forest. The glow of distant fires and the staccato bursts of rifle rounds ringing beyond the horizon line drew Luis further into this distant trance, enveloping his senses in a poly-harmonic ambience that suggested a spectral doubling of the milieu, as if he was entering into a hidden world that had always existed beneath the endless forest plane.

         Once he arrived in Santiago, Luis surveyed the scene with wide, unblinking eyes, great swells of sorrow wracking his body as he walked along the village’s rocky central passage. The hanging smoke and the long, vacant roads of Santiago seemed to collectively form their own long caesura in whose absence emerged an unknown third way, a hemispheric commonality between the passage of the living and the newly dead. The few bodies left along the path lay upturned gazing into the night sky, their flesh entangled with growths of rain flowers and gnarled weeds that sought to subsume their figures into the porous forest plane. Faint illumination punctured the thick nest of trees surrounding the village, guiding Luis toward Papi’s old house, its weathered facade holding the glow of the moon’s ethereal light.

         When Luis came upon the home, he immediately noticed sheets of bright blue paint peeling from the exterior in thin, brittle sheets, so that the house appeared to virtually ooze out of its foundation. Inside, the rooms carried the smell of stale driftwood and all the windows showed cracks that extended in spiraling shapes like spider webs. He entered Papi’s room in the farthest corner of the house, where his ancient gold-rimmed glasses sat unmoved on the windowsill, showing a hairline crack just above the rim. All over the room lay the scattered, damp pages of his father’s bible, each one clinging to the other so that only the letter to Laodicea from Revelations could be separated from the rest and read in its entirety. Some of Papi’s most prized possessions still remained in the room: the overturned statues of Elegua and Olorun, each of whom formerly stood watch over the clusters of green leaves hanging from the ripe mango trees; his San Lazaro pendant that opened to show the once-dead disciple as he emerged from the tomb. Luis grabbed the pendant and held it up to the window, using the light of the low-hanging moon to study the illustration. The moonlight projected tiny, white orbs across the mirrored partition at the edge of the room, filling the space with a soft, luminous glow that seized Luis’ tired eyes. The image struck Luis with such clarity that, for a moment, he could feel the passage of time as one long, yawning gap, which filled the silent room with cyclical scenes of past time. In the open field behind the partition, Luis was seized by a vision of his father, imagining him as he often appeared in his youth, writing verses and sounding warmly reverberated lines in the tropical heat.

         Papi’s writing had transformed from this half-remembered scene into an all-consuming methodology that, like the musings written across the pinned pages on Luis’ walls, extracted from the natural world a perfect circularity of movement and time that could speak through the long silences of history, where no heroic narratives of country people could ever be told, even as the whole island rested on their knotted shoulders. In his youth, Papi had grown to understand the nascent shape of his own philosophical resistance in scattered lines that emerged at first in whispers, and then in the uncontainable eruptions of language that his poetry broadly spoke as truth. Nothing of the dream-like incantations that Papi used to recite into the dense tropical air remained in his work; in time, he learned only to speak in brutish tongues. His poetry presented a whole private world of madness and sorrow, apparent in the unfulfilled yearnings of his characters (always the transplanted, desperately searching West Indian), in their failed romantic machinations that often moved them violently across continents, and in the poisoned worldliness of his own psyche, which conceived of his characters always as martyrs for the cause of their own spiritual liberation. These characters always shared a kind of private knowledge with each other, spoken in words that hid other unspeakable words, like the secret names of saints.   

         When Papi started to read his work in the city, he suddenly became an object of great fascination for the important yankee writers that visited the island, all dressed in fine powdered suits and holding their ever-present cigars, each of whom fed his dreams of inhabiting the mold of important, yankee writers such as themselves. They beheld a man whose dark chino hair and brown skin represented cyphers of a new national text, the kind they wished to mold into a universal fiction that neatly narrated the plight of the dark-skinned campesino and her speechless rural brethren. The white men filled him with a sense of poise that he did not know growing up on the island, where the value of a writer’s work could only be measured in its dialectical support of la sistema. In truth, these men had traveled here to write their own exceptionally dense yankee musings about the primal urges that overtook civilized men in humid climates, like Conrad before them. They came to the coast in search of the “untouched” places in the country, where they imagined tiny homes with thatched roofs shaking easily in the wind, hiding the sprawling city-scape distantly behind them. Each of these men was a frequent visitor, a white scholar of the scorched Caribbean who saw Luis’ father as their treasured informant, a living key that could translate the alien tropic into tidy manipulations of language that would appease them. Luis remembered the many nights Papi spent wandering the island with these men, smoking rusted pipes and grinding tobacco leaves, drunkenly running through mosquito-filled fields dense with green tangled leaves. In all those timeless visions, Papi attained a kind of permanence, his illusory figure maintaining a hold over everything that Luis did, even in his own seemingly cosmic absence.

         The ancient visions of Papi eventually faded from Luis’ tired mind. Laying on his father’s bed, he let the sea’s distant waves lull him deeper into the half-dreaming state that had seized him on his journey, where the dimensions of the island seemed to expand impossibly past the horizon line. In his deep sleep, Luis imagined himself falling into the rows of great palms, dreaming that the island stored in memory would emerge seamlessly behind them. When he finally awoke in the total darkness of house, it was his father’s wide, black eyes that Luis imagined watching him emerge beyond the threshold of sleep.


         Santiago’s only church loomed over rows of dilapidated homes whose stucco roofs now sloped lamely toward the ground. A statue of St. Sebastian held watch over the church’s main gate, his torso punctured by dozens of arrows as he hoisted his hands in reverie toward the heavens. In the total darkness of the village, Luis left his father’s house and made his way to the church by faint candle light, where a low, ethereal humming rose up from the forest floor and caused the walls of the structure to tremble soundlessly. Inside its cavernous main hall, Luis acutely felt the sensation of being watched, as if columns of spectral eyes were clustered among the low peaks of the surrounding forest enclosure. Though there appeared to be no other signs of life in the village, Luis could not help imagining dozens of floating eyes like silver pearls, eyes that peered out from disembodied, spectral heads hiding among the towering rows of great palms. He recalled the seers that Papi used to say kept watch over all creation. There were some things, he argued, that no earthly soul could ever witness por que le faltan los ojos divino.

         Luis opened the chest once more and removed his journal. He searched the stray verses written across all the pages, many of them remembered transcriptions of lines Papi had recited to him many years ago. Luis set about lighting candles all around the darkened church while reciting the only complete stanza among all the scribbled lines, which started with a line from San Juan de la Cruz’s “Noche Oscura”:


         “En una noche oscura,                                                              In the dark night

         Los espectros caminan                                                              the specters walk

         Y llaman nombres secreto                                                         and call secret names

         En lenguas obscura”                                                                  in obscure tongues 


Luis repeatedly hummed the verse along to the contrabass tremors that shook the church, stretching the words out until they became sustained melodic threads that blended seamlessly into the multi-tonal bath streaming through the church’s interior. In the dense bed of noise, he could vaguely make out a sound like laughter, which swelled up with the loud chanting of the insects beyond the church walls.

         Luis left through an unlocked door in the priests’ quarters straight into the surrounding forest to locate the source of the laughter. A fire burned among the rows of thickets ahead, illuminating the faces of four men who all appeared in their own dirtied finery, each grasping empty liquor bottles and wooden pipes that they waved around furiously in their animated conversation. Luis stood among them for a time without a note of recognition, though he instantly identified one of their rank as part of the yankee cadre that his father had traveled with on many occasions in the past. A stocky bearded man in a tattered suit and loosened black tie sipped out of a cantina, darting his eyes wildly from palm to palm, eventually settling his eyes on Luis.

         “You’ve brought no reinforcements, I see?” He asked the question to no one in particular, and none of the men reacted, distracted only by the comparison of cleanest burns in each other’s cigars. Luis engaged the men in his broken ingles.

         My father, Oswaldo, is…” Luis hesitated for a moment, negotiating the translation of lost. “…perdido, missing” He searched his mind for another translation. “Everyone is missing? En Santiago?” All the men shook their heads at once.

         The bearded man produced a chrome zippo lighter and lit the cigar clamped between his stained teeth. “After the soldiers stormed the place, Oswaldo came to us in the camp and he said, with great gusto and not a little trepidation, that he would walk toward the city until he found his people. He swore he would never speak again. In fact, Oswaldo told me he needed to reshape the words, to make them fit the shape of that silver tongue of his once again.”

         Meeting Luis’ perplexed gaze, the man spoke by way of his own broken translation. “Oswaldo…se fue-”

         The man pointed toward the invisible city-scape beyond the forest wall and choked another hale of tobacco smoke into the lukewarm air. Luis nodded in understanding. All of the others sat motionless for a while, heavily breathing in the stale air of the forest enclosure. The bearded man in the dirty suit began to recite a monologue in his own slurred tongue. Luis understood none of it.

         “My wife used to keep this herb garden on the windowsill. I would wake at dawn and sit by the window with my palate set against the wall. Nothing but flatland out there. And the purple rosemary needles and the pesto leaves all stretched gracefully toward the sun’s rays. It shone so brightly that there almost seemed to be this white heat inside of everything.

         “When I arrived here with the brigade, the first thing I endeavored to do every morning was sit right here, just as I am now.” He moved his body in an exaggerated pose at attention, his fingers curled over his knees. “Every morning, I would close my eyes, lay my hands upon the earth and try to imagine that same exact view, with its luminous threads of sunlight shooting through everything.

         “Then I would try to recall the smell of the herb garden, really the key to completing the illusion. At first, this creeping, familiar sensation overtakes my whole body. I taste the air here, tinged as it is with the bitterness of dead tress and ripened mangos. It carries its own faint traces of home that I can just barely discern from the rest of the island. There is truly something of home in it. The illusion is almost complete!” The man paused, allowing the rising insect song to score his story’s climax.

         “But alas, the carefully mapped surface of this ‘real’ finally cracks. There is just one thing that finally collapses the whole dream…”

         The man met Luis’ gaze once more. “It’s the cordite smell and the chemical clouds that hang over everything here. Nothing moves here now, but the trees in the wind. And all that remains is the humid air and the palms and the smoke and the ceaseless waves of the ocean…”

——————————————————————————————————————           Luis sidled along the hulls of the steel cranes whose arms now stretched over him like the tendrils of some eldritch demiurge presiding over the destroyed facades and pock-marked roads of the city. In the drifting plumes of smoke, he could see the outlines of bodies filing soundlessly across narrow roads. Luis stalked the subdivided streets until the red phosphorous clouds lifted by the tanks and all the scorched building facades became so great, that all the smoke rose up in one strong hail, scrubbing the heavens entirely from view. He ran lightly through the sheets of rolling smoke and covered his face with the thin cotton shirt that now hung in seams over his thinning frame. Hiding among the rows of tall stone columns that circled the box gardens dotting all the government edifices, Luis cleared a path through the rubble toward the presidential palace whose pointed stone towers appeared deformed and distended, a consequence of the ceaseless mortar fire aimed at the structure during the coup’s early hours. There the palace barely stood, with its sloping roofs and caved buttresses forming a great, broken chain of cracked stones and hanging concrete tiles. Its tall spires extended high above the surrounding cityscape, where newly erected sentries held close watch over the few soldiers and civilians below.

         Luis watched the palace from a side street, carefully unpacking the Polaroid 80B and his last role of film. Knotted waves of soldiers forced the ministers and their aids out into the main courtyard. All of them were lined against a southern-facing fence and promptly shot so that more could be brought out in quick succession. The soldiers cycled through the crowds of elites with ruthless efficiency, each transformed fully into instruments of the violent compositional frenzy that now occupied the whole island. Luis intimately knew that the violent bloodletting was another necessary step in consolidating the power of this new order, part of the violent ritual enacted with every coup in all configurations of tyrannical power, in political schemes that soured the ripened fruit of the state.

         All along the palace stood tanks flatly lined against tall iron fences, many in states of apparent disuse supporting rows of long-necked rifles and the resting bodies of soldiers. The gunfire rang out in staccato bursts, frequently breaking the silence of the surrounding roads. Luis photographed the soldiers and their prisoners for a while, moving along the palace walls to closely observe the violent cosmos being born before him. Now, his whole body twitched uncontrollably with the expulsion of each rifle round, a mixture of fascination and revulsion animating his tired flesh. The camera became his primary means of extracting some sense of cosmic order from the ceaseless violence. Like Papi, he needed to produce another set of eyes to see the world, eyes that would not betray the suffering of Santiago’s dead, nor easily subsume their suffering into the disparate plight of the elites. In his images, Luis realized the shape of a new, hybrid language emerging uncontrollably, the terrifying beauty of a perverse and violent art form speaking through each frame.

         All along the coast walked the newly christened citizens of the the state, dazed figures stalking the sloping streets in great waves toward no particular destination. Luis walked among the rows of dilapidated storefronts that sat exposed on the winding, narrow coast, seeking to merge his own body with that of the anonymous collective before him. The flophouses burst forth with drunkards stumbling around the beach, where the sounds of the ocean’s rolling waves collided with the din of the music playing from all the storefronts. Many danced along the pier and reveled with the salseros, whose simple polyrhythmic shuffling stuttered in stops and starts. Many others pensively stalked the coast wall that separated the beach from the main road, searching for familiar figures or merely drifting around the endless strip in wide circles. There were the fragments of religious songs, music celebrating the new order born of el revolución, the seductive cadences of female singers lamenting the distance that oceans placed between lovers. All the displaced fragments of melody spread and transmuted into a new kind of national music possessed of its own ambiguous meter, which stumbled and quickened in the successive intervals shared between songs. The sounds coalesced around a central, repeated chord, a suspended drone that rose from some distant and unseen place. As he walked ahead of the crowds, this shapeless droning gradually displaced the music entirely, the road suddenly ending a few miles before a distant embankment along the shore.

         Luis approached the structure, within which the mechanical drone played on without recognizable shape or origin. He adhered to the walls of the embankment, once again removing his camera and waiting for the familiar shapes of camouflaged soldiers to emerge from the fire-lit installation. Behind the structure’s concrete walls, Luis heard the quiet conversation of the men, though their speech maintained an alien, mechanical rhythm throughout, the same phrases repeating at certain intervals before a sequence of laughter overtook the men. A sound like the skipped groove of a spinning record would play before each fit of laughter, only to give way to the same sequence of conversation again and again. Moving farther past the embankment, Luis found a disused tank that attained an oddly flattened aspect in the residual light from the installation, as if it was somehow cut out of the darkened night air. The light filled one section of the raised embankment walls, behind which he saw a single soldier standing guard. The soldier stared ahead at nothing in particular, letting the butt of his rifle lean against the tank. Luis stayed close to the coast wall and slinked past the soldier, heading farther into the shadows until the encroaching darkness wholly enveloped his body.

         The shadow world of the beach gave way to the distant, illuminated rows of tall sentries, out of which mounted flood lights hung brightly over the sand. None of these structures appeared to hold any soldiers, yet the intermittent sounds of gunfire bounced from their metal frames in syncopated bursts. The sentries stood in a spiraling formation that fed into the mouth of a large central tower, out of whose highest level shone a floodlight that projected a cosmic band of sharp white light into the exposed interiors of the buildings along the beach. Luis watched with increasing dread as the drifting eye of the tower poured over its newly born components of empire, his own body turning violently back in the other direction to avoid it. The light arrived fifty yards from his position and kept following an arc directly toward him. Luis fell hard upon the sand and laid himself flat behind a caved concrete pillar until the light passed. There was the overwhelming loss of sensation when the light did hit him, causing a kind of numbed calm which, in tandem with the overpowering chemical stench, caused a kind of sickened somnambulance to overtake him. As the light carved a path farther down the beach, Luis closely watched while prone on the sand. Slowly, he began to recite the composited stanza he had chanted in the church, eventually falling into drugged sleep upon the beach.

         Luis awoke in the grey overcast morning light while dense clouds of smoke drifted over him, the bands continuing their hybrid song. No soldiers had come for him, though he had awakened at different points in the night to the sounds of soldiers shouting and firing rifles in the distance. In the diffused morning light, a creeping sense of the milieu’s flatness, its seeming plasticity, solidified in the image of that central tower, from which the light still shone like the figure of a luminous deity moving over the Earth. He wondered about these elaborate sets and all the people along the beach who stood in their sight: the empty towers and the disused tanks, the installations holding watch over caved roads in the city while loops of recorded chatter played on endlessly. All of this amounted to an elaborate production, Luis thought. The narrative world before him unfolded seamlessly and without barriers, inserting all bodies living and dead into an uncontainable fiction whose violent apotheosis unfolded somehow outside of time.

         The music and the dancing and all the noises from the city, where buildings burned and threw harsh light across the frenzied coast, were all born from the fragments of a journey that Luis could now only barely remember. Luis felt as if he could not bear to move himself from the beach. Instead, he lay upon the sand listening to the salseros and the bursts of gunfire coalesce into their own distant sound collage. The rising voices of the crowds played in perfect sync with the repetitive beats of the drummers. As he drifted, he wondered if he had ever heard music quite like this before. It was the sound of the new regime, he thought, a cathartic aural cleansing that wiped out the obsolete songs of the past. The players searched for the meanings of these new songs, the words they sang burning in their throats.

         In Luis’ thoughts, Papi’s wide, black eyes appeared on all the faces of the people he had passed along the coast, an assemblage of featureless flesh that merged seamlessly with his father’s own in the oblique strokes of evening light that settled over the beach. There were discrete fragments of his father that hung all around the island now, as if he had become a part of the firmament, drifting along like the sheets of smoke that rose from the coast into the celestial sphere above. Luis could not imagine that Papi was quite living or dead, but rather that he had perhaps gained some permanence neither state could produce. In the darkened dome of night, where the stars dimmed with each successive smoke cloud that came rolling into view, the light from the tower moved once more over the beach, casting Luis harshly against the black tidal streams that rolled gently up to his feet. He felt as if he were being born up now. As he slowly rose into the upper atmosphere, Luis witnessed the lit-up coast transform into dozens of tiny strands of illuminated fractals, which wound endlessly along the serpentine roads and streams of fire light below.




© The Acentos Review 2017