Dia de los Muertos; The Day of the Dead

Words & Photos by PAUL ZOLLO

 

Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, the annual celebration of life and death, is poignantly and joyfully celebrated each year at Hollywood Forever, the old cemetery in the heart of Hollywood.

Each year, people construct beautiful and colorful altars to the dead, and paint their faces in the beautiful and traditional designs, and wear the chromatic costumes, that have been used for ages. Altars are constructed for family members, as well as for beloved departed, such as the great Robin Williams, who was the recipent of a beautiful altar featuring massive paintings of him throughout his life, pictured below.

Hollywood Forever is the final resting place of many of Hollywood’s greatest luminaries, such as Cecil B. DeMille, Rudolph Valentino, Tyrone Powers, Peter Lorre, John Huston, Mickey Rooney, Joe Frisco and countless others. This annual event is one of Hollywood’s greatest and most poignant new tradition, as thousands don costumes and paint their faces in honor of this sacred day, and its precise balance of joy and sorrow.

What follows are some poems which focus on that balance and that tradition, and my collection of photos. Without a doubt, it’s my favorite event to photograph.
3 couple in orange
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on the snow.
I am the sunlight on the ripened grain.
I am the gentle Autumn’s rain. When you awaken in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry:
I am not there, I did not die.–Native American Poem on Death & Life

4 cheremoya children 5 Two Ladies 6 mother & daughter 7 makeup 8 couple 9 Trio 10 Mom and Daughter 11 Frisco's Grave 12 Makeup 13 lil Boy 14 Self portrait in Altar

Day After Day of the DeadBy Nathaniel Mackey“While we’re alive,” we kept

    repeating. Tongues, throats,
roofs of our mouths bone dry,
      skeletons we’d someday
                                                    be…
   Panicky masks we wore for
       effect more than effect,
     more real than we’d admit…
 
 No longer wanting to know
   what soul was, happy to
                                               see
      shadow, know touch…
 Happy to have sun at our
   backs, way led by shadow,
 happy to have bodies, block
                                                     light…
Afternoon sun lighting leaf,
       glint of glass, no matter what,
           about to be out of body it
                                                           seemed…
   Soon to be shadowless we thought,
     said we thought, not to be offguard,
 caught out. Gray morning we            
                                                        meant
          to be done with, requiem so
      sweet we forgot what it lamented,
                                                                    teeth
    turning to sugar, we
  grinned
 
                       •
 
  Day after day of the dead we were
    desperate. Dark what the night
 before we saw lit, bones we’d
       eventually be… At day’s end a
                                                             new
  tally but there it was, barely
                                                     begun,
   rock the clock tower let go of,
     iridescent headstone, moment’s
    rebuff… Soul, we saw, said we
                                                           saw,
invisible imprint. No one wanted to
                                                                  know
   what soul was… Day after day of
       the dead we were deaf, numb to
     what the night before we said moved
                                                                         us,
   fey light’s coded locale… I fell away,
 we momentarily gone, deaf but to
      brass’s obsequy, low brass’s
   croon begun. I fell away, not fast,
                                                                floated,
        momentary mention an accord
  with the wind, day after day of the dead
    the same as day before day of
 
the dead… “No surprise,” I fell away
      muttering, knew no one would
                                                               hear,
    not even
      me
                       •
   We wore capes under which we
were in sweaters out at the elbow.
 Arms on the table, we chewed our
                                                                spoons…
      Mouthing the blues, moaned an
 abstract truth, kept eating. The
  dead’s morning-after buffet
someone said it was. Feast of 
                                                      the
unfed said someone else… What
  were we doing there the exegete
 kept asking, adamant, uninvited,
                                                              morose…
     Elbows in the air like wings, we
         kept eating, rolled our eyes,
                                                            kept
      shoveling it in… Day after day
of the dead we were them. We
  ate inexhaustibly, ate what wasn’t
                                                                there,
        dead no longer dying of thirst,
      hung over, turned our noses up
                                                                to
    what
   was


17 little girl with big skellyton 18 couple 19 Bela 20 Leopard skin coupleda 21 Dolores 22 Lady with Lady with 23 Bride 24 Lil Girl

Tombstone of Joe Frisco, the king of vaudeville, and originator of the "Jewish Charleston."

Tombstone of Joe Frisco, the king of vaudeville, and originator of the “Jewish Charleston.”

26 Shirley

29 couple bi

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~ by bluerailroad on November 10, 2014.

One Response to “Dia de los Muertos; The Day of the Dead”

  1. Are you bisexual ?

    I´m a man in love with you

    Mike

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