loss and gain

i have not lost.

not if i can see what i gained
in the defeat.

***

hold

i held on so tight to the pain,
refusing to let go

because that was all that i had left of you.

***

walk

today, i placed one foot
in front of the other

and started walking towards me.

beauty

April 26, 2012

your beauty is being measured
in measurements and hues.

cosmopolitan has set the cosmos to believe
double zeros is the size to be. so they photoshop
your weight to turn the corners of their sizeism
into curves that will wrap around an image of beauty
that is emaciated.

allure is the illusion created
when they airbrush your skin a lighter shade
of racism.

at seventeen they got’ you
believing that skinny jeans will walk
you through life. that you should highlight
your hair to highlight your features.

you can vogue your way to your fifties
so long as botox keeps your skin tight
enough to walk the runway.

don’t run away
from who you are.
your natural beauty is flawless.

debunk the beauty myth.

ugly is created in magazines
that sell you lotions and potions
that alter the image in the mirror
to reflect their own self-hatred.

un-broken

April 24, 2012

i am broken
but i am not shattered.

repairable, in fact.

i am stronger
at the parts
that cracked
because they know, now
how to reconnect.

healing bones,
tendons rebuild,
nerves reconnect.

the broken heal.
the body remembers.
the soul is stronger.

break down,
build up.
the edifice is fortified
reinforced
and forced to realize such wondrous truth:
the body can handle so much… more.

so really,
i am not broken
i am just strengthening the core
of a warrior heart.

waking in Love

April 22, 2012

this morning i woke up in Love.
the woman in my bed
had this sexy confidence
around her rested eyes.
her skin was soft to the touch,
like the night had exfoliated her worries.

she had this peace about her,
certain that the new day
was going to shower her with blessings,
she rose and gave thanks to the Universe.

the fog was lifted.

i fell in Love with her smile;
how it rest so comfortably on her lips.

her feet were certain
that the next step was forward.
and forward was certain to receive her.

i woke up in Love
with Self, Patience and self-patience.

piri thomas

April 21, 2012

i’ve been meaning to write to you since i learned that you had your homecoming. when i read of your passing i was overwhelmed with sadness. and i wanted to write but i couldn’t. it was as if my pen needed to mourn. so i turned to my bookshelf and reached for the autographed copy of “down these mean streets.” i opened the book and skimmed through it. read a few lines and recalled that first time.

your book was the first time i read a book cover to cover in one sitting. there was something so magnetic about that book. i couldn’t put it down. i didn’t want to be interrupted. i felt hypnotized.

by this age (i was 15), i had read a few books. i was always reading. it all started with judy blume, then the babysitter’s club, then things started getting a little more mature. i read “where the red fern grows,” and “flowers for algernon” and “catcher in the rye” and then classics came in to play (pun intended) with shakespeare’s “macbeth,” et. al. And in between all of these, my grandmother would have me reading the bible to her in Spanish.

i can tell you what i liked and didn’t like about all of those books… but when i was 15 it was your book that made me want to do more than just read, i wanted to write. see piri, your book was home. literally, you where writing about my home.i found what el barrio feels like, tastes like, sounds like in each of your pages. i could relate to so many parts of it even though your book was written more than twenty years before it reached my hand. it made me both happy and sad. i was happy because i could read a book that talked to the realities of our lives but sad because that reality was still very similar to the same el barrio, when your book reached my hands.

i loved your book. even the weight of it was perfect in my hands. with every page, i turned the corners of my streets. every chapter in your book was a new-york-city block, building projects that were never projected to amount to much. there are so many beautiful stories in our documentary filmed ‘hood.

when i had the chance to meet you and hear you read in 2000, i was “star struck.”

your swag was lyrical.
critical.
to the evolution of my poetic soul.
i knew my story must be shared
because i had nothing to be ashamed of.

yes, these streets are mean, but our stories made them sweet.

you survived. i survived. we survived.
the stats were against us. but the strength of a pen
is powerful. makes you feel like you’re on the roof top of taino towers
overlooking the willis avenue bridge.

today, i light a candle to your light.
thank you for shining so bright on this earth.
you will always be un rey del barrio.

as  i have been battling lately with depresion and disconnection for some time now, i made a conscious decision to take some steps towards walking out of the “darkness” we can sometimes fall into. i started with a trip to new york city. after all, though i was born in santo domingo, dominican republic it was new york city that raised me and taught me about coming out of “darkness.”

that weekend i decided i would only visit family. i started at my cousin’s place. just me and him and the x-box. we caught up. he showed me the new sneakers he got for his son. we laughed hard as we watched a comedy show. he had to go, had a date with his wife and didn’t want to be late. i kissed and hugged him goodbye and he reminded me, “yo, yajaira remember we more than cousins. fo’ real. you my sister, ma.”

i smiled all the way to my other cousin’s house. she always has a bed for me, she says. and so bailey and i showed up, there we were met with the Love and laughter of Familia (it makes me happy that to them my canine companion is family as well and they always expect us both). we started with cafe bustelo and pan con mantequilla. it’s the perfect beginning to some of the most amazing conversations.

i saw my cousin’s granddaughter. who is wise beyond her years. though i was not surprised shem being the off-spring of my cousin. i laughed with her kids and learned about police academy and nursing. my cousin now has a part-time job with the mets to make extra income. and then my aunt showed up and the second cup of bustelo was poured.

because i have been writing my book (who is taking me on an amazing ride), i decided to ask my aunt some questions. i asked, a bit nervous to hear the response but ready because i have been wanting some answers. fully aware that some of the things i might learn will change my life forever. we talked. and she shared. and the more i knew, the more i wanted to know. i started to understand myself in a different light. i started to make connections to patterns, and behaviors and my heart started feeling lighter. and while we didn’t get to everything. we got to enough to give me time to digest and process.

then my cousin and i decided to visit more family. off we went. and we walked into our cousins’ new apartment (real estate in new york is fortune) and i felt pride. because well, we are making life better for ourselves slowly but surely. my other aunt was there and there we laughed and laughed some more and caught up on life. the good, the bad and the ugly.

the following day we went to visit another cousin. and there we did more laughing. shared some intimate stories that connected us deeper. we ate. we drank. we cried. we shared youtube videos. we laughed ’til our jaws hurt.

i drove back to ct with new york city in my rearview mirror. and said thank you to my Home. no matter how long i go without coming back, the Familia loves me like city lights love time square.

that weekend something was going on back in ct. my cousin was sick. and i headed to her place. i had never seen her like this. we were all on edge and felt helpless. nothing could be done. it needed to “ride out.” so we waited. held her hand. and trusted in each other to take care of the necessary things. we are Family.

this weekend i decided to disconnect entirely from the “matrix” (no phone. no FB. no email -with the disclaimer that my mother new where i was if she needed to find me).  i have spent time with my cousin. talked about a lot. made her laugh in the emergency room. and then we came Home. clear broth and gatorade. and i served it up with extra Love for healing. as many times as she has healed me, this pales in comparison.

she is my strength. she has been my anchor. she is Home.

Familia is Home.

returning Home is where we replenish the Soul. i am thankful to have this space and time with them. it is the perfect way to begin to walk out of the “darkness.” surrounding your Self with Familia and Love.

untitled

April 6, 2012

black child…
you never got the chance
to taste the rainbow.

17.years.old

[pause]

think for minute and remember
when you were 17.
you were so full of life… and dreams.
what did you want to be when you grew up?
what did you like? what were your hopes?

black child
you will never know.

because bazooka joe thought your melanin
was the 8th deadly sin
and felt the the need to stand his ground
pull a trigger
and just like that.

…you never got the chance
to taste the rainbow.

this race war
has taken more lives
than all the wars combined.

this race war
has got’ us running away from each other.

fear is a four-letter word with a five-letter sentence:

death.

17.years.old
17.years.old

you never got the chance
to taste the rainbow.

you never got the chance
to live life.
to try and make better days.
to watch your parents grow old.
to witness so many beautiful parts of life.

he took your now & later.
left a sour patch on our tongues.

and the iced-t
tastes like bitter hate.

beacon street

April 5, 2012

it was no wonder,
you wonder filled spirit,
that you lived on beacon street.

we met august 2008
i was moving in.
i knocked on your door
and when you opened
your smile lit up
that small hallway.

we became friends instantly.
like we had known each other
for years. sharing laughter.
food. company. stories.
we learned about each other.
you talked about your love
for the arts. started painting again.
writing…

the beagle loved you too.
she looked forward to your everyday visits
with a spoonful of yogurt that had her
tail waggin’ so fast, we thought it would fall off.

the more you shared your life with me,
the more awestruck i became.
life dealt you such shitty hands
but you played the game.
and you did it well Ass 😉

i know your light will shine in my life
all the days i have left. your wonder
will live on.

thank you for shining your light.
thank you for sharing your life. 

rest now my friend. rest.

0-17

April 3, 2012

i gave so much of me,
i’m claiming bankruptcy
because the deficit has left me
owing myself an apology.

i took out a loan.
’cause in the right market
i can make Love’s stock soar.

crash!

i am not sure what happened,
but i have no fight left.

Love has beaten it out.

the lesson at school is clear though:

commit to Self.

i return to my core.
to replenish depleted areas.
to reconnect to that which
makes me whole. to pay back
myself for my Self-neglect.

everything else.

in time.

will
f
a
l
l
into place.

i just spent the weekend in nyc. i hadn’t been Home since sometime last summer. it’s been a while since i had spent time with family. and i got to do just that this weekend. i spent time with my cousins (who happen to be my brothers and sisters as well). we talked. a lot. caught up. reminisced (like we always do). laughed. a lot. and just enjoyed being in each other’s light and Love.

in conversation, we learned about certain things that are happening in our family. challenges that individuals and families are facing. among them alcoholism, depression, domestic violence and drug addiction (to name a few). i said to them that if we don’t talk about this as a family, we will continue to perpetuate the behavior. we will continue to sit around this big elephant in the room and not address the problem.

history will repeat itself in the womb of our children.

we need to talk.

we need to talk about the issues that are hard to talk about in order to grow stronger as individuals and as a family. we need to talk to each other past the point of being uncomfortable. it is in that space that we can truly evolve.

we need to talk because the silence is hurting all of us.