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thoughts on death

This author is a recipient

of the Sigma Tau Delta Award

Sigma Tau Delta Awarde

Elena Vallejo

(she/her) was born and raised in the Quad Cities and is currently studying Early Childhood Education, Theatre, and Writing at St. Ambrose University. In addition to poetry, Elena writes for the SAU school newspaper, writes for LOVE Girls Magzine, is an editor for SAU’s Quercus, and has done some freelance work. She writes to bring to life the stories living inside her. Elena has previously been published in the 31st edition of Quercus, the Midwest Writing Center’s The Atlas: Volume 16, and the inaugural issue of Antipoetry Magazine.


i. the body deteriorates while

life is still inside. nothing will last

longer than it's supposed to

ii. there are over 200 types of

cancer, google lists them

from A to Z,

common to least common, and

survivable to fatal

iii. what do you think of when you

hear someone say “the smell of death”?

i think of my great-grandma’s hospital room

iv. if death is not a sweet release to

a magical world, i want it

to be the end

v. as i wrote this poem my candle and its flame

turned to smoke

vi. vacillate is the grossest

word i can think of to describe my


vii. i don’t care what i am buried in, i just

want poetry to be read on my grave

viii. i once heard a fisherman say “it’s too easy to exist

too hard to live,” i think i’ve decided that life

and death are the same

ix. when something dies, do the heart’s

chambers shut down one by one or

all at once

x. the word of the day is


meaning “the state of internal organs,”

use it as you, please

xi. have you ever kicked an ant

hill? the scattered bodies are the lucky

ones, the rest will suffocate to death

in their own home

xii. there are more than 8,000

deaths along the southwest border each year,

but that’s just an estimation

xiii. i once thought that everything a person

said about death had to be

philosophical, now i think that’s bullshit

xiv. do you ever think about what it would be like

to lick a human


xv. when you’re poor,

a jar of mayonnaise on your scalp kills

your headlice, almost

xvi. every wish you’ve ever made is on

a dead star

xvii. i want to write a poem to the almost-full moon but

i don’t think she would like to hear about dead

birds and formaldehyde

xviii. last friday i picked myself like a daisy to count

love on my fingers, how many days do you think

i have left?

xix. have you ever tried to explain death

to a child?

i’ll do it tomorrow

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