the body unto itself

or a poem for the toilet where I throw up my bloodline


yes, there is a wall                                      

inside my stomach,

                                                   Latinos Live Longer But

built from shifted organs                   Less Healthy Lives: 

refusing to absorb


anything that enters.

it all comes back, like                           The Average Life Expectancy of


jesus on easter. like my                        Selected Ages (in Years) by Race

grandfather in his bolo tie                  and Ethnicity: Non-Hispanic White


I can’t sleep for hours

after eating. doctors’ notes           (birth, 78.8), Hispanic (birth,


written in the lining of a vessel

unsettled, different than my own.


I still can’t divine the source,                 Demographers call this the

the moment that leaves me                  


kneeled to you in search of absolution

for a diaspora of illness. it’s risen,


returned, routine, calling forth

something unexplained like the            Hispanic Epidemiological Paradox


sound of someone else’s prayer

in reverse.



Originally from central Florida, MJ Santiago currently lives and works in New York. Their work has appeared in Reservoir Lit, Heavy Feather Review, and No, Dear Magazine. Their first chapbook, baby knife, is forthcoming from tenderness, yea in April 2018.