August 31, 2011

nacimos de muchas madres,
pero aquí solo hay hermanos.
~ruben blades

out of eleven siblings, we are forty-six cousins total. thirty-five of us grew up in new york city. if you found yourself among the thirty-five who grew up in new york city, when asked the question “who is your best friend?” the answer was, “your best friend was cousin so-and-so.”  we didn’t need friends.  and it’s not that we didn’t welcome other kids from the neighborhood, it was simply that all we needed was each other.

the details of our childhood are too many to recount in this space. we grew up in the same neighborhood. went to the same school. same church. same activities. we were always together. and life gave us the opportunity to live through things that have made us a strong united family.

they’ll be the first to tell you that i’m the “glue.” they always remind me that if it weren’t for me, we wouldn’t get together or call or whatever… what they might not realize is that an adhesive is only as strong as the material that it’s keeping together allows.  what they also might not realize is that they are my strength. i gain strength from the memories we created.

recently, we experienced a significant scare. we thought we’d loose one of our own. on edge, we clung to our Love. and our faith. and while i believe faith carries us through, it is Love that ultimately conquers.

that’s just it Primos… our Love is that strong.

genetics made us cousins, luck made us best friends but Love, Love made us brothers and sisters.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011

un caballero

August 26, 2011

my father
taught me
how to be
un caballero.

is not acceptable.
on a date,
get there
fifteen minutes

bring flowers.
will never sour.

pleasant words
will bring a smile.

hold doors, pull chairs,
give up your jacket
before she gets cold.

he taught my sister
the same.

’cause he says
we needed to be everything
to ourselves and others.

taught us
how to make dinner
into poetry.
from the way you cooked it
to the way you served it.

he taught us to call
our mother every day.
to never visit her
empty handed.
milk, eggs and bread
will fill anyone’s basket.

kisses are necessary,
hugs are mandatory.
the touch of Love
will keep everyone warm.

sing a Love song
-you’re never off key
if you sing it
from the heart.

a gentleman
never talks
ill of the past.
She sees it
as lessons for a
stronger future.

raise your voice
or your hand.

speak softly.
touch gently.

un caballero
her flaws and faults
and works to be

and remember
to be a true caballero
you must never forget
that you are always
una Dama.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

cooking lesson

August 21, 2011

“jamas le niegues a alguien tres cosas:
un vaso de agua, un plato de comida,
el uso de un baño.”
-Doña Juana Rivera

in 1985.

my abuela juana was a Mother. to her eleven children, forty-six grandchildren and a little six-story tenement building that sat in the middle of a spanish harlem, new york city block in the 12 o’clock shadow of the taino towers.

218 e. 122nd street.

on sundays my abuela cooked. and when i say she cooked, i mean she had the cucharones banging on calderos, el horno encendio’ making music in that kitchen to the rythmn of my aunts chatter and chismes. while the men played domino talking pelota y lo’ yankis o los mets… and the kids ran up and down las escaleras.

sunday was another way of saying family. if we weren’t at randall’s island, we were at abuela’s or at Titi Isabel’s. but cooking was happening. and so was eating. and Love.

when it was time to eat… my grandma would lead us in prayer and she would always say something along the “… y que aquellos que no tienen de comer, encuentren el camino a mi cocina.” (…and may those who do not have a meal, find their way to my kitchen).

cooking lesson 101: we are responsible for each other (blood related or not).

this is something that has always stayed with us… as the cousins have all grown older, we always tell each other, “stop by there’s always a plate for one more.” and we remember abuela. it was never a lesson that we were taught in the sense of sitting us down to tell us… it was just a natural way of nurturing.

between the pernil, el pollo, arroz con gandules, ensalada de papa, y escabeche de mollejitas we realized we had enough to fill our bellies and our hearts and those around us.

…you’d always see a few of us bringing somebody else. “this is my amiga from school…” you didn’t even have to finish saying her name, who she was related to, how she got here… when she was already being handed a plate. and then someone shouting, “quien falta de comer?”

abuela fed more than just our bellies. she fed our hearts with a sense of responsibility that lives in each of us eighteen years after her physical body left us. but her presence is still present in our meals.

feeding the collective familia is not just culture… it’s a commandment. food is just food if it has no nourishment that goes beyond the one it provides the physical body.  if you cannot feed the soul, don’t even bother to cook.

on sundays and every day… may i always feed souls.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

writer’s note: a special thanks to Marvin Bings and Antonio Robles for inspiring my sunday muse.

back to school

August 21, 2011

i wanna’ learn you like
elementary school.

take my time
between the abc’s and the 123’s
to finger paint and build blocks.

recess by the swings…
enjoy a snack
that’s followed by a nap
only to wake up on the mat
next to you.

imma’ enjoy every minute of you
like the first day of back to school
when you even look forward to homework.

i wanna’ add reasons to make you smile
subtract the things that don’t.
divide your worries and multiply
the opportunities for growth.

i look forward to the grammar
of getting to know you.
become your favorite noun
fortify adjectives
to be the strongest verb.

focus on penmanship
write cursive slowly…
crossing t’s and dotting i’s.
as close to perfect as
a scratch n’sniff sticker
on the top of a graded paper
that reads, “berry good.”

sure the lessons get harder
but imma’ enjoy the challenge.
i know… that if i study you
“oh the places we’ll go.”

got my new kicks on. they match
my shirt. my bookbag
is filled with hope.  and i’m skippin’
to my lou’ all the way to school…

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

death toll: 29,000 and rising
cause of death: hunger
can’t seem to stop thinking about: crying mothers

i’ve been reading (perhaps too much or too little) on the rising death toll in Somalia. children just… dying. so many thoughts and emotions arise: racism, hate, fear, indifference. and i am left to deal with these through my buddhist practice and chant that the world may somehow heal.

i do not want to dismiss in any way the catastrophic disaster of this event in Somalia.  we cannot stop a tsunami, a hurricane or an earthquake. these are natural disasters that surprise us. they leave behind famine, destruction and death. but again, we CAN NOT control it. we can only react to it.

fact that’s got my heart heavy: hunger is preventable.
fact that’s got my thoughts on check: eating is a luxury.

most of us are capable of feeding one more person. and we do nothing. we just stand by waiting for the hunger tsunami to hit and then we begin to call on the world to save the starving children. do you really know why their bellies look full? because they are filled with our indifference. their belly buttons pop out to let us know they’ve had it with our apathy.

i can only ask for forgiveness. chant that i may become a person who is awake. mindful and proactive. and change my behavior to reflect that.

the world is hungry

the world is hungry. starving in fact. for healing. for a collective rising that will begin to heal the broken. and we are ALL broken. we are starving for more than just food for our bodies. we are starved for mindfulness. enlightenment. social consciousness. awareness. we are starved for Love. the kind of Love that makes a person see the very soul of people. we are starved for healing. the kind of healing that begins from a place of honesty.

we are starving. and the way to begin to feed our own hunger is by feeding the ones around us.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

if possible, whatever you’d spend out eating today… consider donating to
and after you donate, see what behaviors you can change in yourself to be a more socially conscious person.

still humming

August 16, 2011

you leaned in
to kiss me…

our bodies merge
on a desire
that’s been brewing
like bustelo en greca.

my fingers ran
from your lips
to your lips.

the fullness
of you.

i savored your fruit
like i was tasting
the last limbel’  de coco
on earth.

i woke up wearing your
cocoa buttered sex
if i should shower.


~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011

writer’s note:  A “limbel” is a Puerto Rican flavored ice.

junto a ti

August 13, 2011

Yairi: Otita, asi mismo vamo’ a terminar tu yo.
Otita: ¿Cómo carajo?
Yairi: Mira a las dos viejas al lao’mío.
Otita: Vieja es tu madre!!
Yairi: Esa también. Pero en serio Primi, no importa lo que pase tu y yo vamo’ anda’ por ahí llevandono’ a las citas médica, cuidándonos, pasando el rato, peleando como do’ vieja q’ se gritan y no se hacen na’…

Esa fue nuestra conversación luego de irte a buscar al médico.  No te sentías bien y no podías manejar, luego de lidiar con pal’ de cosas en casa (incluyendo un zorro), fui por ti. Mas tarde en la noche pensé en nuestra conversación. ¿Qué tal si la vida solo nos regala la compañía de nosotras mismas?  ¿Qué seria si yo no terminara con la pareja de mis sueños?

Me sonríe.

Sabiendo, “si mis días terminan junto a ti, senta’ en do’ mecedoras, escuchando una música clásica, incienso y velas, escribiendo en nuestras libreticas, yo predicándote desde la cocina ; ),tu  tiltia’ en la sala… seria la manera de la vida me dejarme saber, que todo lo hice bien.


~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

fine art

August 11, 2011

i go to
the museum
of your fine art.

admire the artistic
sculpture of your body:
breast and thighs,
the bend of your hips,
the fullness of your lips.

i walk over
to the canvass of your skin.
see how the paint brush strokes
around your neck,
down your shoulders,
to your fingertips…

your imperfections
got me turning my head
looking at you closer.

your flaws

your eyes

the mona lisa
is hating on you.

the art of you
is just…
damn fine!

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©


August 11, 2011

i never fell
in love
with you.

you can’t fall
if you have yet
to get up.

but i pushed
my self into
wanting to feel
the love i lost
and instead
pulled hurt
into your life.

i’m sorry
for thinking
i could heal
my way in
to Love.

my fear of a life
without it
misled the way.

may we both heal.

~Sarahí Yajaira. 2011

homenaje al tiempo

August 8, 2011

por el tiempo.
aquel sabio
descarado tiempo
que en sus manos
nos guarda prisioneros.

por el tiempo,
que a destiempo
nos sorprende
con dolores
que llegan
a medianoche.

por el tiempo,
que da vueltas
en un reloj.
con su tic-tac
que hipnotiza,
haciendo sentir
que ya no sentimos.

por el tiempo
que nos recuerda
que aun nos falta tiempo.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011