Los Fantasmas

This poem was a F(r)iction Fall Literary Competition finalist.

My grandmother believes
in los fantasmas.
She says they dance free
of their bones
& into the wind.
These spirits laugh
& howl
as they look over us
from street lights
& old books.
She says the dead
have a strange way
of telling us things.
My grandfather died
on his birthday,
the eightieth anniversary
of his becoming flesh,
a wailing storm of limbs.
He left his body
like an exhale
or a song that bleeds
into the sky.
At the funeral,
my uncle says
my grandfather would have
hated the ceremony.
He hated anything that
made the music stop,
that made the body go limp.
Before he died,
my grandfather said
he wanted a mariachi band
to play
“When the Saints Go Marching in”
& expect him to come
marching in
The dead have a strange way
of telling us things.
This was my grandfather’s
way of saying
‘there must always be
a reason to dance,’
to shake free of your bones
& let the dead live.

Brandon Melendez

Brandon Melendez is a biracial poet and educator hailing from the state of California. He is a National Poetry Slam finalist, Rustbelt Poetry Slam finalist, two time Berkeley Grand Slam Champion, and the winner of “Best Poem” and “Funniest Poem” at collegiate national poetry competitions. While attending undergrad at UC Berkeley, he was a student teacher poet for the class Poetry for the People. He is currently an MFA candidate at Emerson College.