The Day José Died

Amy Sara Carroll


Larry strode down the hallway, calling out to me,

“Have you seen the Facebook posts, the tweets? José Muñoz is dead.”

Something turned off in my head. A light. Bulb. Just above my head. A chamber of my heart caved in. I leaned against the wall, listening to Larry’s doleful detailing. The little known. The lot of us. Unknowns, looming largest. The largess, regret. Thickening syntax. My tongue, stuck, “Okay, that’s enough. You didn’t even know the guy!” Why. Y? ¿Y, cómo te vas?  Leaving all of us. Lonely. “A little less alone.” Fred Moten, play it again:

call ‘se‘steban like a father, chicken and rice down low—

love can

bust you up in increments so

you link ephemera

I sat down in my office. I struggled to collect my belongings. I’d just guest-lectured in Anthony’s “Introduction to Latina/o Studies.” I googled fastidiously. I recalled Muñoz’s analytical caress of Frank O’Hara’s “Having a Coke with You.”

Tavia Nyong’o, did Muñoz also crush out on the crushed blacks of “The Day Lady Died”? Where were the obituaries, the “cities of the dead,” rising to welcome their newest compatriot? Of Just Above My Head, Muñoz muses:

The queer solo is a lament that does not collapse into nostalgia but instead takes flight... The singer is... not its author and never has been. He hears a call and we remember... a shared impulse, a drive toward justice, retribution, emancipation... Another vibe is cultivated.


“Okay,” I say, still unsteady. The voice. Of. A generation. 1.5.
Of that time. (My time!) Period. “Disidentification.” Diss. Identification. “Methexis.” A prose poem: If Muñoz needed no introduction, he earned every queer’s goodbye.

Amy Sara Carroll is the author of two collections of poetry SECESSION (Hyperbole Books, an imprint of San Diego State University Press, 2012) and FANNIE + FREDDIE/The Sentimentality of Post-9/11 Pornography (Fordham University Press, 2013) and one book of criticism REMEX: Toward an Art History of the NAFTA Era (The University of Texas Press, forthcoming). Since 2008, she also has been a member of the collective Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab, coproducing the Transborder Immigrant Tool.