For Alma – Hell is a Place on Earth

Preface: /ɡwɑːtəmɑːlə/

what do we know of /ɡwɑːtəmɑːlə/

what does anyone

how much do they mention in the public schools, here

in college

on the street, in whispers

or maybe screams

That it was conquered by Spain

its people cast aside

while the land was raped


That it became a so-called Banana Republic

a Los Norte Americanos

whom look down their noses

perched atop man-made borders


That the C.I.A. helped to overthrow

the government and dismantle the country

effectively sending them back to the 1500s

once and again



That over 200 thousand people were killed

over a 30 year civil war

that the USA helped to wage

only to leave it as one of the most

violent countries in the world

with nothing more than an apology?


They teach none of this

No one speaks of /ɡwɑːtəmɑːlə/

except to say:

isn’t that where all those gangs are from?

God, what a shithole…

And a hole in the world opens up

and sucks all the apathy down inside of itself

some might call it a rabbit hole

others a wishing well

but down we go and see how far

this disease from Amerikkka travels…

For Alma:

Hell is a place on earth/

Por Alma:

El infierno es un lugar de la tierra

[Hell is a place on earth


and we all get what we deserve

in the end]

Alma: a woman’s name

daughter, sister, mother…almost

a descendant of the Maya

her name means: the soul

though I am sure that she lacks exactly that much

if such a thing even exists

and I know she knows this because

Alma murdered people

in cold blood

she helped rape and

torture others

like herself

she did these vile things

all in the name of love!


But…how can that be?

¿El amor?

How can “love” draw so much blood..?

because en los estados unidos

there is enough love to go around

and then some…

In Amerikkka, we export a twisted version of amor


to any third world hellhole that will buy it

like so many Happy Meals and armor piercing bullets

the love of yourself

the love of your barrio

the love of your block

your city, your state, your nation


Amerikkkan style

we love our guns and our gods

we love our football and fast food

our fast women and faster talking politicians

and we love ourselves to death

for it’s our national pastime

this l-o-v-e-!

this culture of destruction that we gift

our neighbors with time and again

neighbors like Alma

like so many other women

in their own versions of Hell

seeking that which they wish to escape

blood in/blood out

love in/love out

survival of the fittest

the ones with the most heart

putting in work

punching the clock

vying for the love

of blood-stained streets

and homies in shallow graves

A history of violence

cradled Alma from birth to the death

of her soul

her stillborn child and beyond

because she chose to be like the men who abused her

rather than be victimized by them

Alma chose love

Amerikkka sends another love letter

out to sea, message in a jagged bottle

knowing that some small child somewhere

someone just like Alma

will find it on the sand

read it and take the instructions to heart…

right after she carves out the corazon of those

who would do her harm

but before anyone can point any fingers at Alma

or any of these daughters and sons of blood

you must first understand that

this is all a product of Amerikkkan ingenuity


it is our gross domestic product

and we excel at manufacturing it

packaging it

distributing it

marketing it

and consuming it

wholesale death

the tattoos, the slang, the apathy

the penchant for extreme violence

the self-loathing

and course, the love!

we birthed this

rather, this is a mass produced product

of what some would call

a comedy

others a tragedy

depending on political affiliations

both of which are gangs in their own respect

and both of whom claim

to love their constituents

During the late 90′s

the Clinton administration deported

countless Guatemalan refugees

tens of thousands of desperate people who

fled from a country of death and

decades of war

where all they found was an instruction manual

on how to hate yourself and kill people

in 10 easy lessons

what do you think they brought back home with them?

from Amerikkka?

land of rape and honey

after we schooled them and then fucked them off

what were their souvenirs?

their trinkets?

all you need to do is listen to Alma’s story to find out

because she will whisper dark love songs in your fat ears

while you close your eyes and she slits your neck again

people like to remember the Clinton administration for

blow jobs and saxophones

condom-covered cigar tubes and toothy smiles

the greatest economy and

all that white-washed Kenny G jazz

and so much LOVE!

but he should be remembered for other things

like NAFTA and fleecing of Amerikkka

the new genocide on the third world

and the invention of people like Alma,

precious Alma with her deep eyes

which you could drown inside of

from falling into a tunnel of death and love

Alma, who sheds tears for her victims yet

knows she carries her Hell with her

in every space she dwells

Alma, a victim since day one but also a patron saint

of killers and of women

who choose the sword

in the name of amor

Talking heads and demagogues will point to her with scorn

with their blood-dipped fingers

to these so-called slums with disgust

clucking their tongues saying:

See! We must keep this kind from entering


Abandon all hope ye immigrants who enter here!

We must prevent them from poisoning our soil

and spreading their seed!

We must exterminate them

and all those like them!

We must build a wall! 

And then a wall on top of that wall

because we have to be sure!

Death to all who oppose us!

And their nationalism runs cold through the veins

of killers and murderers

Because these same people

these blood lusters and people hustlers

either do not know

nor do they care that it is


their own self-preservation

their own waste

their own cognitive dissonance

their own treachery

their own hatred

their own policies

their own cracked mirrors

that have created Alma

but no one wants to remember these things

they all just want to point fingers

or bury their heads in the sand and giggle

we can all watch the same film and hear Alma’s story

we can listen as she describes her nightmares

we can empathize


or turn away in disgust

but what we can never do is forget

that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

we reap what we sow and we have sown so much

hatred and violence worldwide

that we could submerge the earth in blood by now

were it not for modern plumbing

All of our hate

all of our rage

all of our lies

all of our loathing

all of our treachery

all of our thievery

all of our neglect

all of our disbelief

all of our pride

it all goes down the drain

and we never think of it again


but it should be no surprise then that these same gutters

eventually come to an end

and empty themselves out into something else

and we have been ignoring our sewage for far too long

So do not pity Alma

Her’s is but another wretched and warped story

from the red, white and blue


she has her scars and her burdens

and she will carry them to her grave

but you should pity yourself

and me

and everyone around you

who make excuses

or simply ignore the conditions

that create people like Alma

for she is us

and we are her

and there is so much goddamned blood

on all of our hands

and it never



– by       Santino J. Rivera, 17 November 2012

*for reference:

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