orador de la gente,

caedor de noveno pisos.

My mind fast forwards &

rewinds, the whirring of a vhs

to your last performance.

This song, the final note a supposed extension

of yourself, a vibrato composed

of your multitudes . . .


I didn’t understand how a body

could hang suspended between

the dead and the living, a perpetual

state of liminality, but your eyes —

they were so concave,

so spectral.

How can a voice be so smothered,

that the sound becomes doubly ash-like?

A deceitful

doppelgänger of your true

tonality. The dystrophy

in your storytelling. ¿Héctor,

qué le pasó al cantante?


The way you gripped

your microphone,

like it was the only thing saving you

from the crashing of despair

against your shore, wavered

away with each subsequent note.

How you loosened your grasp

because the metal felt too much

like flesh and bone,

like rosary beads swallowed by fingers

in desperate prayer by your deathbed,

like your last breath.

How you breathed with an asthmatic

rhythm, catching your air tucked

in between each quarter rest, a fallen, burnt

out star.

Your song became too much like you,

a burnt out star.

The quaking in your wrist

became the only vibration that resounded

outside your body,

and your throat couldn’t shake

like that anymore.



how does it feel

to have this indelible shadow,

choking your mythologies

until you never become more than an outline?

To rob you of song?




1 It is believed that Héctor Lavoe’s final performance was in April 1992 at the club S.O.B.’s in New York City. The only online video that exists of this show is of his most famous song, “El Cantante”.