An Apartment in the City of Death

–after Kabir

At least it came with free utilities and was furnished.
This city & death are one like anime & cigarettes.
Seeing skeletons pick up your trash every Thursday
got some getting used to. A restaurant nearby
sold fire arroz con pollo like Basquiat. I’d eat it once a week.
Many people here were named Death but weren’t actually Death,
i.e., The Grim Reaper. It reminded me of my old barrio.
Many people were named Jesús but weren’t actually Jesus of Nazareth.
Every time an undead creature passed me, I felt that day could be my last.
I had so many near death experiences here that I started attending Mass.
At morning Mass, I came across a vampire wearing a cross.
She was beyond cute, but celibate, so I was very respectful.
There weren’t many humans living in the City of Death.
On the other hand, there were many humans
dying in the City of Death. After my third year of living here,
I heard a knock on my front door. It was the city mayor.
He came with a bouquet of black roses. A camera crew was in tow.
“You’re the first human to survive here three years,” he said
w/ eyes gleaming. I became somewhat of a celebrity.
The Basquiat arroz con pollo was renamed after me.
People hounded me for autographs & photographs.
I was getting paid handsomely by local businesses
for doing TV commercials, e.g., jumping out of caskets.
Even The Grim Reaper paid me a visit.

Steve Castro - An Apartment in the City of Death

Steve Castro’s work is forthcoming in SLICE Magazine; Salamander; Dryland; 7×7. It was most recently published in Strange Horizons; The Coachella Review; Somos en escrito; PALABRITAS; HeartWood Literary Magazine and Speculative Fiction For Dreamers: A Latinx Anthology (The Ohio State University Press). Regarding his debut poetry collection, Blue Whale Phenomena, (Otis Books – Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA) published in 2019, Shari Wagner wrote, “This is an amazing book, an astonishing first collection.” Birthplace: Costa Rica.

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