dug well

February 28, 2012

sometimes we are so thirsty for Love,
we will drink the illusion from an empty well.

searching for potable water
to quench our dehydrated hearts…

we drown in water-less buckets.

every Sunday, if i wake up in my home, i go to the supermarket and buy myself flowers. i’ve done it for a long time. it started as an effort for self love and care. i usually get happy flowers. sunflowers. flowers with bright colors. but i love daisies. the white ones. i think they’re the happiest flowers. they always look like they’re smiling…

this weekend, after a change in plans, i adjusted to what the Universe had brought me. somehow i felt it say, “be home. be still.”

so friday after work, i ran some errands and went home. i slept. i slept. i slept.

i slept. i woke up saturday. let the beagle out. fed the beagle. slept. watched a movie. ate. slept. watched tv. slept. had the tv watch me. let the beagle out. fed the bagle. ate. watched a movie. slept.

woke up today (Sunday), at 7am. made cafe bustelo en la greca. let the beagle out. went to the supermarket, picked up some flowers and things for the week. went home. my music of choice: old Spanish boleros. cleaned the house a-la-tu-madre sans the pañuelo on my head. i moved couches. bookcases. cleaned behind, over, under, through… washed clothes. folded clothes. ate. went to get a manicure. came home. let the beagle out. took a long hot shower. i moisturized. gave myself a calf massage. allowed myself to take care of She who is most important in my life, Me.

some of us are natural givers. add to that society’s constant reminder to “do unto others” or “help your neighbor.” yes these should always be a part of our life. still, we must learn how to return to us and give ourselves the very things we give others: our time, our energy, our love…

we need to dedicate time to ourselves to replenish and rejuvenate our mind, body and soul. it is in this moment where you gain greater strength of heart. in this time with self, you listen to the message silence has to share. you listen to the message on being alone. it is this very act of self Love that you can find your real strength.

it easy to find strength for others, but can you be strong for your Self?

Self Love and Care is the best way to strengthen the core of you. that very place you pull from when you’ve got nothing left. so take a day and spend it with your Self. i promise, it’s worth it. in fact, you might just like who you get to hang out with all day… and there’s a possibility, you might fall in Love with you.


memory: gammy’s seizure

February 18, 2012

when we were kids
you were my favorite cousin.

i’m not sure why.

not that i needed a reason;
but i had 41 other cousins
to choose from…
you made it easy to “pick.”

you never said no to me.
you thought it was just fine
that i wanted to play baseball
(you even taught me a few things),
and basketball… and football…
and any other sport that was reserved
for the boys.

we played all the time.
i loved sleepovers
with you -we slept on the same bed
(tu bocarriba’ y yo bocabajo’)
we were never bored.
we always found something
to do in the neighborhood,
in the house, even at church.

(you and i were grandma’s favorite, remember? 😉

one of my favorite stories
with you, was the day those boys
were going to beat you up -for no reason,
except that you looked like Screech
from Saved by the Bell (and you did, but i
didn’t think that warranted a beating).

you threw yourself on the floor
and started acting you were having a seizure.
i was freakin’ out and the boys that were about
to beat you up, ran away.
you stopped and opened one eye
looked at me and said, “are they gone?”

and we just died laughing.
what a clever way to get out of a beating.

you have this amazing ability to make all of us laugh.

and that’s just it with you… you make all of us laugh even during the scary and sad times.

today, all of our cousins are my favorite.
but you hold the memory of my childhood’s
ten-year-old laughter in your left hand.

thank you for always making me smile. for being you.

today, i celebrate the gift of your life Gamaliel Edgardo Alejandro Caraballo. thank you for shining your beautiful bright light. i wish you peace of heart, health, happiness and laughter in abundance.

i love you Gammy!

apartment 5e

February 10, 2012

on the day of your death
pack lightly

because the only thing
that goes with you
are memories and Love.

123 e. 112st
apartment 5e
Titi Isabel’s tight three bedroom apartment
fit Love, laughter, sixty-two people
and still had space leftover for healing.

i remember the sound of our young voices.
i can still smell Titi’s sazon in the air.
i remember exactly the corner
where abuela always sat.

we cheered
when the families would come in
one-by-one we paraded
(macy’s had nothing on us).

her apartment decorated for christmas
at the beginning of october
(she still does it).

we were Home.

in Yanqui’s room
we’d sit and talk
teenage stories
that at the time
seemed so intense
and real -and secretive.

in the hallway
we played baseball
for 12 innings.

we’d have “showtime.”
dress up and go into the living room
to make aunts and uncles laugh
(abuela would smile the entire time)
as we imitated each of them at church
or doing something particular to each of them.
no one was saved from our wisecracks
-not even our parents.

we filled our bellies with food
digested it with laughter
and went home Loved and Loving.

if we could just hold a single moment…
if only we could just be still in that space for one more breath.

Writer’s Note: Titi ‘Sabel, gracias por ser y estar. Gracias por sacarme los piojos, por librarme de par’ de pelas de Mami, por cuidarnos, por estar presente… te quiero mucho y me quedo corta.

the last love poem

February 8, 2012

“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers
within yourself that you have
built against it.”

the last love poem
will not be written
in my lifetime.

as long as i am a poet,
butterflies will flutter
in bellies distended
with excitement.

palms will sweat.
heart rates will rise.

Love notes
will be stitched in cursive
into pocket seams.

spontaneous Love songs
will play and dancing will happen
in parking lots, busy streets,
quiet corners…

rain will pour
and Love will be soaked.

fear threatens Love.
has people running away from it
like a natural disaster.


Love continues breathing.

and while you fall down
…Love falls up.


Writer’s Note: “Fluttering butterflies was an inspiration from a conversation with Idalia Poetry.”

god wears a size S

February 7, 2012

it is no mystery why the world can’t find god.

you have made god so small,
theologians have been searching in the fine prints
of scriptures only to loose themselves in translations.

your rhethoric and rules
have diminished god
to simple verses misquoted
from altars and pulpits alike.

religions read hatred from their Book
and claim righteousness.
they have been
everything but right.

throw up scripture
on billboards…
give tracts to distract.

god never wanted to be read.
god wants to be lived.

but you have made god so small
in Love and so big in hatred,
your microscopic view
increases macroeconomic blessings.
while churches get rich
on people’s fears,
faith is bankrupt.

god never wanted to be a business.
god wants to be lived.

you have made god so small
and insignificant,
you have people believing
that hell is place in the after-life
not on the tip of your blasphemous tongue.

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.


a gift for Love

January 7, 2012

i’ve been shopping
searching in all places
for the perfect gift
to give Love.

the bookstore shelves
stacked with titles
on how to,
recovering love…

i knew Love
didn’t need to know
what it has endured
throughout its lifetime.

thought perhaps
if i bought it something
intimate, i could dress her
in sexiness.
but Love knows
that victoria doesn’t know
the real secret
has nothing
to do with the lingerie.

so, on i went.
entered little shops
with trinkets and pendants
but nothing stood out.

thought about feeding
it the most decadent chocolates
but Love has always been sweet enough.

there it was,
the perfect gift.

i wanted something
that looked classy. a bit rustic.
something… that would tell it
what my words have yet to express.

so i bought Love a watch.

with the hopes that it
would finally arrive

three kings day magic

January 6, 2012

the night before,
she stepped out the house
her favorite cousin
holding her hand.
she filled a shoe box with grass
placed it under her bed.

her wishes all her own.

she had the faith
only a six-year-old
would have:
complete trust.

nestled in her heart.
her body filled with excitement.
her little eyes didn’t want to shut.

morning always came gently
on that day…

her heart’s beat
interrupting the stillness
of the morning
she ran to the living room.

live with gifts.

everyone waiting for her.

her smile
painted smiles
on the faces of everyone watching her…

she was surrounded.
wrapped tightly
in the safety of Love.

…but something was missing.

she was very appreciative of all the gifts
the kings had brought… but wondered why
that gift she wanted most was nowhere
to be seen. after all, she trusted, completely.
she believed.

maybe they’d forgotten… maybe.
she thought, what if she didn’t specify
the importance of that one gift?
maybe she should’ve only asked for that.
but it was number one of the list.

she held her dolls. silently thinking
about all of this.
her Titi says, “can you go out back and get
a box in the back room?”

as the little girl entered the back room
her face lit up. her heart raced.
she knew it!
she knew they could not have forgotten
she knew they were kings (three of them)
who made magic happen all around the world.

there it was…
shiny. perfect. with a red bow
on the basket.
exactly what she wanted.

no childhood gift before or after that day
was able to evoke the emotion
of that morning.

she cried.
the ones who Love her laughed.
asking her why.

and with the only innocence of a six year-old
she responded, “they knew i needed this more than anything.”

laughter erupted.

this was her ride to freedom.
this was the way to travel to her friend’s home
down the street… filling the basket
with imagination… she could even get to new york
if she peddled long enough.

on january 6, 1986
the joy that filled
her innocent heart that morning
was so magical,
it still lives in her smile
twenty-six years later.

best childhood gift ever


it is the first and last word
Puerto Rican and Dominican children (young and old)
say to their elders (i am uncertain if it’s true
of other Latin American countries).
it is said to parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents,
or any other elder (not necessarily blood related).

it’s an “obligatory” salute. a sign of respect.

it is to me, one of the sweetest words.

the response is even sweeter:

“Dios te bendiga”
“Dios te cuide”
“Dios te acompañe”
“Dios te haga una muchachita buena”

and it is usually followed by
whatever descriptive affection
they have for you:

“mi hija.
mi santa.
mi amor.
mi cielo.
mi reina.
cabezona (my uncle’s favorite).”

at the sound of it
i am overwhelmed
by their Love.

it is never said in anger.
but even if angry, the blessing is
always given.

i am constantly making sure
my nieces and nephews
say it to me. i encourage my siblings
and cousins to make sure their children
do not forget.

it is the blessing that has kept us safe
even in harms way. it is the blessing that heals
us when we’re ailing. it is the blessing that lifts
our sad spirits.

yesterday, i sat at the dentist’s office,
a young woman walks in and sees her aunt.
smiling she says, “bendicion mi tia bella.”
to which her aunt responds, “ay mi querida sobrina
dios te me bendiga. que gusto verte.”

i smiled.

those words hold so much power
in my life.
i know when the elders in my family
pass on… it is the sound of this blessing
in their voice that i will miss most.
i know it is one of the many words
i will miss out of my parents’ mouth.


it is the word you say to receive their blessing
and God’s protection. its history is biblical,
but it is spiritual at its core.

to me… it’s the shield of Love
my elders keep me wrapped in.