In Spanish calavera means "skull," but each year in Mexico around the time of the Day of the Dead (November 1-2), the term takes on a different meaning. At this time, it refers to the imaginary obituaries that appear in local newspapers and humorously criticize well-known individuals who are very much alive. These satirical poems do not have a specific length, meter, or rhyme scheme. The calavera resembles the pasquín of Spain, an anonymously written attack posted publicly, which may have been introduced to Central America by Hernán Cortés.

Rest in Pieces

Satire thrives in calaveras,
Sharply honed throughout the eras.
Fake obits appear in papers;
Subjects get a case of vapors.

Like the pasquinade in tenor,
Calaveras match its splendor
Through opinions voiced in public
Though it's not the selfsame rubric.

Classical Calavera

Anonymous Herbalist

She who claims that aloe vera,
Plant of choice of curandera,
Used in cualquier manera
Might prolong one's present era
Still ends up a calavera.

Roman Poetaster

He who wrote those double-dactyls
Grates like wheels on rusty axels.
Squeaky wheels can be forgiven;
Writing those cannot be shriven.

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