carmen

November 9, 2012

…y de la nada, te apareces.

like houdini, poof!

you just show up.
via email.

“hey, how you doing? how’s life? love?”

tal vez no entiendes. que esta no es la relación
que quiero contigo. pues para tener una amistad
se necesitan dos.

one should be available to the other.
at any time. no en secreto como si fuera
lo nuestro un pecado que lleve pena de muerte.

that’s what relationships are, no?
un toma y coge. a give and take.
an, i got yo’ back. estoy aquí pa’ cuando sea.

asi que, cuando quieras una amistad sincera,
show it. y no en un marrrrdito email
que luego borras para que no sepan que aun
te comunicas conmigo.

y no, esto no es poesía.
it’s a direct message to you.
yo estoy vieja ya,
to be playing hide-and-seek.

you dishonor the memory
of the relationship
y me insultas.

a tu “intento” le falta
corazón y coráje.

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n.y.c.

April 2, 2012

city lights in my rearview mirror…
i drive away from you.
leaving behind skyscrapers
filled with memories and laughter.

emotions rush through me
like the express 4 train,
non-stop to battery park.
i recharge on your grid.

you call me
like you’re hailing a gypsy cab.

you hold so many of my times, squared
in every block that turns
into the nostalgic truth:

when i am with you, i am Home.

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.

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.

 

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.

innocence
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

safe

December 9, 2011

i don’t know if you know
but the only time i felt safe
was when you were around.
i knew nothing could happen to me.

you were my he-man.
always defeating the skeletor of my fears.

the saddest day of my life was
that august day of 1986,
when you and Manny left.
i knew i wasn’t safe without you.

i loved the summer.
the warmth of your arrival,
was the highlight of my year.

i tagged-along. sometimes i annoyed you,
(that’s what little sisters are supposed to do).
you held on to my pigtails
making motorcycle sounds.
you watched over me. i loved when we played.
wiffle-ball with duck-taped plastic bats.
chasing squirrels. handball. night pool. shoe-shine girl.
and forts. you made the most amazing forts.

you were my boot camp.
those times you were “mean”
was your way of getting me ready for life.

life has given us years. distance has kept
us apart for the majority of our lives.
but we have always been a part of each other.

life has been hard on you.
and you always come out on top.
your strength amazes me
(i wish i had a little more of it).

your Love… it weakens me.
your humor makes me laugh ‘til my belly hurts.

today, i celebrate the gift of your life.
your light shines so brightly David Anthony!

i am lucky to call you my brother
and blessed to have you as one of my best friends.

Happy birthday He-Man!

me and my best friends

reflection: dreams delayed

November 22, 2011

i have been thinking about this coming holiday.

i am having a hard time this year with it. i read somewhere that mercury is in retrograde and things might be a bit off. and the news always tell of stats that remind us how this is a really depressing time for many people. in trying to make sense of my current emotional state, i seek answers.  this has nothing to do with the holiday or mercury’s position. i am just missing one thing:

my very own family.

i have family. my siblings. my parents. cousins. aunts and uncles. we are thousands of miles apart. still, we are family. and the memories we made years ago are still with me.

but i want my own family. i want to build a home. create memories. hang them on picture frames. make traditions that my kids will talk about…

i’ve been sitting with this. writing about it in my journal. talked about it with some friends over dinner tonight. and then i came across a blog where the blogger was expressing a similar sentiment.

i suppose a good number of us get to that point in our lives. that place where we realize we want our own family. it is easy to feel at a lost.  or like we haven’t done something right if what we want hasn’t yet arrived.

but instead of questioning what i might be doing wrong… i allowed my self to feel and listen. and i learned something and made peace with it rather quickly: it is not yet time.

i am thankful for dreams delayed. it will be that much sweeter. i will be that much stronger.

purging

September 21, 2011

it is said that tauruses hold on to things.
that, we have a hard time letting go.
i am also my mother’s daughter.
she says,“recordar es vivir.”
(to remember is to live).

i’ve been collecting memories
for thirty-three years.

i’ve saved all of them
in labeled bins.
neatly stacked and packed.

but today, i cleaned
attic and basement.
started throwing things out.
i’ve attempted this before.
i’d sit there , start looking
through things and i’d only get rid of some.

today, i didn’t even look at it. i just trashed it.

years of letters, cards, pictures, movie tickets…
my collection has been collecting heaviness
and its value has long been redeemed.

a lifetime. in trash bags.

the bins are all empty.

i let it go. got rid of the impurities.
anything that has kept me
inside of those bins
is no longer there.

i made room… for all that is new.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011