In Which I Try to Use Naming Conventions to Try to Understand “Unincorporated Territory”

Legio (camp) becomes León (city) becomes Juan Ponce

de León (rapist)       becomes Ponce (city)

Colón (rapist) spits colonize (rape)

spites colony (body)

How the rapists name the bodies

and the bodies                  grow up

into territory

*

King David (rapist)                     so close to God

he sinned so mightily                   so mightily he sinned

He mightily forgave                     and gave

the holy world

his name

Beloved of God

my name                         my father’s name

*

At school the kids would call my father Poncé.

My cousin calls me Junior.

His soldiers call him U.S. Army Staff Sergeant.

His father is Black.

Like many American men he carries (viral) the name of his enslaver.

*

What you survive                  survives you

*

The body a catalog

each line

lashed to the shores of Spain

as portolan

*

As my grandfather is catalogued

in an urn with the USMC logo         as his father

dead by violence

in Santurce

where is he cataloged?

*

I misplaced, forgot, never knew.

I, his

namesake.

—David M. de León (from [PANK])