january

January 31, 2012

you came in with fireworks,
(you always do).

still, you were subtle with me,
peaceful and passionate and tender.
you wrapped me gently in the newness of you.
with all the hope and excitement of a clean slate,
a new beginning with renewed strengths…

i. am. hope. full.

on this, your last day
i give you thanks
for coming in with so much energies;
i trust will carry me through.

let me take the spirit of your faith-filled beginning.
let me hear fireworks in the nights of every day.
let me find the peace of your first morning in all of my tomorrows.

tarea

January 27, 2012

quiero ser un libro entre tus manos.

que me leas en luz baja,
a voz alta.

deja sentír cada pagina entre tus dedos.
sin prisa…
disfruta cada palabra… cada emoción… cada momento.

pausa entre capítulos
para recorrer sentido.

llenate de anticipación

deja tu imaginación correr
leeme donde estes.
en tu cama. en un cafe.
sentada en el parque.
pero  leeme…

aprende exactamente donde
la protagonista siente alegría,
tristeza, enojo, páz…

llora. ríe. reflexiona.

conectate al autor.

y cuando leas la última pagina…
leeme de nuevo.

reflection: on anger

January 27, 2012

yesterday i posted my response to the east haven mayor bullshit here in the wonderful constitution state.

i struggled as i wrote it.

it is difficult to write from a place i don’t find myself at often: anger. i discussed it with two close friends prior to posting it because i kept saying, “i don’t know that people have seen this side of me… in fact, i don’t think close friends have seen this side of me.”

i am not an angry person. actually, whenever i get upset, one of two things happen almost instantly: i start laughing because i feel foolish or i start crying because anger doesn’t feel good at the center of my chest. but i did some self therapy yesterday. and i started to tell myself, that maybe some of the things i need to start letting go of are behaviors that i have had for the last thirty-four years. holding on to anger and not showing it is one of them.

there is nothing wrong with anger. so long at is doesn’t lead to hurting self or others. i think it’s perfectly healthy to be angry. to express a “FUCK YOU!” can feel so good or in my case, “tu maldita madre, hijo e’ puta.”  It actually feels liberating… a release of energy.

i let it go… and breathe out of it. almost instantly i feel better.

when my brothers and i were young, my oldest brother Manny was always known for being the “quiet one.” i mean, you couldn’t move this kid from his core (to this day, he is pretty much unfazed)… he has this amazing ability to just disconnect. he doesn’t even have to dust off his shoulders, ’cause the dust doesn’t even settle on him. it was something that frustrated me… i was a bit envious of his ability.

but one day, i have no idea what my two brothers decided to fight about… all i know is that Manny and David went at it like two caged animals and i witnessed the entire thing. Manny and David fought like men that day. but Manny fought like a man that was carrying his ancestors worth of anger inside of him. there was blood all over our living room. i was so scared, i called my uncle Tito Chan crying because this was not a typical fight between my brothers. that day (i think i was like ten) i remember looking at Manny’s eyes and i realized quickly that Manny had left. that something greater than Manny had shown up that day.

this is what happens when we hold on to anger. we either explode or implode. neither are healthy.

we cannot contain ANY emotion. in doing so we dishonor our human process. and the point is to go through the motions and the emotions. express what you need to, sit with it and then let it go.

do not tell people to not feel anger or to not express it. fuck!, we need more angry people. we’ve become so blah about everything. we just have to know the balance of healthy anger.

when i wrote the piece i was angry because my Latin@ community is constantly under attack. i express myself through writing. this is my outlet.

am i still angry today?

yes. because injustices are taking place and we are forced to stan idle and keep quiet. but i didn’t want to bite my tongue anymore. and i didn’t want my work to sound like pretty poetry because the situation that is happening in this country is NOT pretty.

be angry. let others be angry. cuss. spit. scream. punch a pillow.

then let it go…

but keep the fighting spirit.

i need to free my captive tongue.

let it break through the bars of my teeth
and grind out the words i’ve kept inside
for fear that i would offend someone,
i always edit my words.

see when brown and black folk
start screaming
they call us crazy. uneducated. disrespectful.
class-less…

so i swallow the spit.
creating phlegm,
my chest grows tighter
and i can’t breathe.
my bronchitis turns to pneumonia.

do not judge me
for coughing it all up.
’cause ya’ mutha’ fuckas’
do some shit like hold a public office
and tell an entire community
that the way you will heal them
for YOUR mistakes
is by having a fucking taco dinner.

you insensitive, ignorant, hijo e’ puta
you coward. you privileged… white bastard.

i dont’ want your apology.
keep your excuses
y te lo metes’ por el culo.

i want you to step down,
’cause you don’t have the balls to step up
and admit your truth.

when you think that a taco dinner and a trip to puerto rico
show diversity, YOU. ARE. A. FUCKING. RACIST.

(by the way, puerto rico was glad you left)

remember malik jones?
can i get the stats on Latinos arrested
in your community?

you are nothing
short of a cabron.

so i am left
to shove my middle finger
down my throat
and throw up everything i’ve kept inside
’cause i refuse
to keep shitting it out
into the sewers that run
through our cities and underneath us
like water under the bridge…

it’s easier to ignore what you don’t see.

i can easily see what you’ve ignored.

but you are just one of so many more.
who sit in churches . who hold office.
who run corporations and banks.
who speak out your ass…

while we bite our tongues
bleeding anger
onto our chapped lips,
we look rabid because we are
so fucking tired of your bullshit.

and what frustrates me even more
is that your brethren… your kind… your people….
they don’t even call you out on your own hatred.

gestation of a book

January 26, 2012

for three years.
three long years…

i’ve been experiencing
morning sickness.
throwing up the words
of my childhood,
into this book.

my swollen hands
can’t hold a pen long enough
to wait for this embryo
of letters to take the form of words.

this lyrical fetus
grows…
but the chapters
drown in water retention.

so i am giving birth to pre-mature poetry…
before the umbilical cord strangles this piece of me.
hoping in an incubator,
truth will develop in the lungs of this poetic child.

poetic prayer

January 24, 2012

may my poetry only hurt
in the places that need healing,
as a gentle reminder
that i will be stronger
at the broken parts,
if i remain open
to the process.

may my words
suture the scars
of a little Sarahí.
may they mend
the hearts of those
i have injured.

may they bring me
to action and healing.

i pray…

that i use the sharpness of my pen
to stab at hatred.
that i use its soft felt tip
to write gently.

may i heal
through forgiveness
of Self.
may i be patient
with the wait…

the cure

January 23, 2012

tell her i said to get
a heart transplant.

to ask for the heart
that was in the coldest body
so that her feelings will always be…
numb.

she wears her heart on her sleeve.
gives it freely because she believes in Love
more than she believes in god.
like if there was a church of Love,
she’d be there every Sunday offering
her whole heart as tithe.

she wants her life to be about Love
and always seems connect with people
who fear it like a pandemic.

so she keeps getting Love sick.
wondering if there is a vaccine
or some sort of cure for the Love stricken.

(i just keep hoping she gets sick of Love).

so i tell her, to get rid of her heart.
to exchange it for a drum if what she needs is just a beat.
that way she can easily replace it when the skin has broken.

the movies have lied.
the books have deceived.

there is no happy ending.

only an ending of contentment
if you can find peace
with the hearts you were dealt
in a game of spades.

this much i know,
there isn’t a cure… there isn’t even treatment.

fatalities & poverty pimps

January 23, 2012

government induced fatalities.

there is no mortal
who can win this kombat,
when a lifeline
starts in the red.

blame the victim,
those who “abuse the system.”

the-ebt-card-swiping-medicaid-using
-cash-assistance-spending-heat-voucher-
processing-section-8-housing-people-
who never had shit to start with.

they are the reason our economy is falling apart.

the government cuts services
and then blames us for the deterioration
of our communities.

joana earns $622.04 per month.
she works part-time. her and her 8-year-old
son are on state health insurance.
if she goes to work full-time, they cut her assistance.
after rent, utilities, hospital bills,
and groceries she is left with $64.30.

she ain’t lazy you sonvabitch’,
she is trying to survive
on a system that doesn’t even give her
a fair chance at the starting line
because the day she was born
she inherited poverty.

and then she’s upset…
because she believes
what they handout in pantry lines.
as the poor gather to grab a few bags
of near-expired food.
she says, “is some people in the community
who abuse the system, who mess it up for us.”

and all i can think is
“they fucking got to her.”

joana, the system has been abusing us for years.
it’s been committing crimes against us. creating
laws in our name as if they even know what it is like
to wake up with last weeks hunger in your stomach.

then they incarcerate us in our own fucking
neighborhoods. you can turn projects into prisons
in two seconds.

all the while we just tryina’
find a way to make a way for ours.

they got us fighting each other
for crumbs they toss our way.

but according to them, it is us.
we are the fall. we are the reason
for this winter season.

Shang Tsung has a way to make the images change.
he the shapeshifter, soul absorber.
has a people seeing his words as truth.
forget enron. delete wall street.
“get over here!”
our ASSets are theirs.

then along comes a “savior.”

some philanthropic-poverty-pimp
trying to “do good” in our name.
who tries to romanticize our hoods
and create change without even asking
us to be part of the process.

we are so fucking exhausted,
we have no fight left. so we take
whatever little shit they’d like to throw
our way.

“fuck you very much!”

we started in the red. we can’t combo our way
out of it because we’re always on the defense.

this game is over
before it even starts.

finish them!

B, F, B, D, 3(jump)

[rip off]

El Barrio (Spanish Harlem)

January 15, 2012

218 e. 122nd street
105 e. 107th street
123 e. 112th street
is Home.

my DominiRican blood diluted
by the salted waters of the atlantic.
abuela left her Puerto Rico:
from el caserio to the projects.

(like moving from hell’s first floor to the second)

a government “project”
called HOPE VI
revitalized ghettos for the pictures.
while section 8 has been subsidizing
our communities will to fight
since 1973.

still, here…
there is Love, and laughter and strength.

i’ve walked these streets
my streets
el barrio… mi barrio.
mis calles.

all of it my childhood playground.
i ran up and down third ave,
our shopping mall strip.
stopping at a hunded’ sixteen for that sanguich’ cubano
walking up to lo’ cuchifritos for my orchata.
the scents watering my mouth
-i salivate spanglish lyrics.

that’s the spoken word here in el barrio.
at first, a struggling tongue-twister
that with time became the last romance language.

a language of love that dances in my mouf
like a smooth socially conscious ruben blades salsa.

turning corners. hopping trains.
breaking into night pool. sitting on stoops.
chillin’ on park benches. talkin’ mierda.

i. was. home.

those streets call me by my middle name.
they speak to my soul. the music of
hector lavoe. ray barreto.
the barrio boyz.
like TKA we were “louder than love.”
blasting from cars.

the sounds orchestrated
a latin symphony.
horns, percussions, and strings
attached to our souls.
sweet music of esperanza.

on 110th and 2nd ave.
doña clara sold limbel de coco
for .25 cents from the 5th floor of her building.
you’d put your change in a bucket
she’d pull it up. put your limbel
in the bucket and lower it.
you sucked it all the way to
wagner housing.

our parents worked
and worked. and worked.
“tryina’ make a dollah’ outta’ .15cents.”
they worked magia
like Chuito the Santero.

we were a commUNITY.

the lady on the third floor
who was always watching
out the window, (the one we
called Carmen la bochinchera)
she would tell your parents on you
if you were outta’ line.

and your Tio had as much right
to whoop your ass con la correa
as your moms’.

it was only called the ghetto
because they labeled it so
but we knew this was paradise.

yeah, it wasn’t the places we saw on TV
but it wasn’t the mortar and brick that made
it what it was… it was our Love that sustained
an entire community.

now i go back… heard something
about calling it “Spa Ha.” i thought
it was a new business they were opening
that offered massages and shit like that…
pero no, they want to sell it like SoHo
to the yuppies…

you can’t gentrify a pastelillo, or an alcapurria.

what the fuck do you want to revitalize?
this place has been alive for years.

you want to create change in our communities?
go into the projects and fix my aunt’s bathroom walls
you can see the old plumbing as clear as your deceitful
intentions to “make it better” for us.

she’s been living there for more than 30 years.

change the tired kitchen cabinets
that have been storing your expired
generic canned goods that have been feeding
us poverty dressed in “good deeds.”

these roach-infested-asthma-trigerring
-drug-ridden-violence-beaten-poverty-
stricken-hunger-growling-projects
are a direct result of your “projected” outcome.
when instead of providing resources to a people
you gave them temporary assistance
in the form of block cheese
(we have been your lab mice for decades).

i would’ve preferred a block grant
that offered real solutions not temporary ones.

carajo!

the images of mi barrio
will change drastically.

’cause starbucks coffee smells stronger
than capri’s bustelo.

but i swear…
te lo juro por mi madre,
if my fucking cuchifrito place
closes… i will round up
every botanica from 125th to 103rd
and ask the gods to burn this mutha’ fucka’ down.

this. is. my. home.

you can’t keep coming
into people’s communities
and displacing their dreams.
you delay their achievement.
you deplete them of drive.
you keep them in ghetto mentalities.

pero coño, you’ve been doing this shit since 1492…
and you do it so fucking well.

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will & testament

January 12, 2012

on may 3, 1993
abuela had her homecoming.
at the time of her death,
eight of her eleven children
were alive.

they headed
to her one bedroom
apartment on the 4th floor
of 1295 amsterdam ave.

her silver spoon collection
had airline logos. so did
some of her plates.

she had seventeen jars
filled with buttons.
she fastened love
on coats, and hats, and gloves
that kept us warm.

each of her daughters
kept one of her batas.
my mother kept a red wool
bandana she wore around
her head all-winter.

one of my uncles
just wanted the cassette tapes
where she recorded herself
singing church music.

they found ten dollar bills
wrapped in napkins in all sorts of places:
in pockets, in books, in vases.
almost a thousand dollars…
it was used to fly her body
to Puerto Rico.

my mother kept a hairbrush
(hairs included). the siblings split
up photo albums. her rocking chair
was the most coveted item…
her “favorite” son got to keep that.

trinkets. figurines. plants.
pots. pans. mugs. furniture.
they all wanted something
tangible to hold on to…

when our parents die
there are no assets to discuss.
no lawyer who will ask
to sign the dotted line.

our inheritance is debt.
the heirlooms
are untangibles:

memories. lessons. Love.

i’ve forgotten the sound
of my grandmother’s voice.
‘cept i remember the raspiness
of it like an old friend.

i remember her words.
no matter how harsh their truth,
her advice was always gentle.
i cannot forget her faith,
it was unshakeable.

if it took a while to see better days,
my grandmother created them
through laughter.

she had a noncupative
will & testament:

her will was that we remain a close family.
her testament was the way she lived her life:
humble. honest. faithFULL.

may i always honor her will and may my life be an extension of her testament.