April 2015

Fri
24
Apr
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Neither from Here nor There: A Transfiguring American Genre

"I am the link between the shores, […] I am what joins your left hand to your right. I join the world of the living and the world of the spirits. I join the past with the present." —Ella from Free Enterprise by Michelle Cliff...

Fri
24
Apr
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On Belonging to the Nuyorican Literary Movement

If I was asked whether as a poet I belong to the Nuyorican literary movement or not, my answer to that question is: yes and no. Most of the persons that make up that movement were born and/or raised in New York City. I was born...

Fri
24
Apr

Ray Barretto: Remembering the Quintessential Nuyorican

On April 29, eighty-six years ago in Brooklyn, Raymundo Barretto Pagán (1929–2006) was born. Barretto was, like one of his old employers, maestro...
Fri
24
Apr
Wed
15
Apr
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This Black Mass of Hair is Revolution

This Black Mass of Hair is Revolution The soldiers are coming to Recovering from that Negro-ism Recovering from stolen truths Recovering from fire chemicals Scorching roots of the motherland

This black mass of hair is revolution Soldier hold...

Wed
15
Apr
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This One Bowl (A Zuihitsu)

This One Bowl (A Zuihitsu) This is the beginning of sadness (B.Collins) This one bowl Home to small bites Saltless stews And purees of the oldest kind

It is the new black For the silver streaked Shriveled and parched Like summer hot dogs Left out...

Wed
15
Apr
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Abuelita’s Kitchen

Abuelita's Kitchen Smells like the mixing of sugar, honey, milk. Like Abuelita’s kitchen. She wasn’t the greatest of cooks, But I loved watching. Her soft, fleshy hands, Red polished fingernails, preparing meals. Humming melodies, accompanied by a...
Wed
15
Apr
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Cleanse

Cleanse I will remove just slept in sheets, I will wash them, I will dust, sweep, mop, burn sage, Remove your leftover energy. I will bathe with intention, wash away the traces of your caresses from my skin. Remembering the rare moments when we were...
Wed
15
Apr
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HISTORY

HISTORY She is a living record of what can’t be found in history books. Not even the most skilled artist can capture the layers of life that she wears on her face like armor. Each crease, sculpted by the love for her children. No nip and tuck to...
Wed
15
Apr
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ROOTS

ROOTS I carry history in my hair. Generations of thick tangled tresses colored with shame at the roots. Stripped, dyed, burned, fried trying unsuccessfully to alter its DNA. Since birth, my hair has danced violently to a beat of its own. Tautly...
Wed
15
Apr
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TO THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

TO THE BEAT OF THE DRUM I was born to the beat of the drum in the wilds of Nigeria to Yoruba swaying hips where my lineage began. Warrior woman like Anacaona or Yuisa Taino cacique descendent of Queens though many would have me believe otherwise. As...
Wed
15
Apr
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Newerican

Newerican

American

Américan

Am-é-rican

Nuyorican

Newerican

Brooklyn bard...

Wed
15
Apr
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La Lucha

La Lucha

They don't know what to call women like us

Women with coffee bean eyes

noses thick like sugarcane

welded from predecessors y patria,...

Wed
15
Apr
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HINDSIGHT

HINDSIGHT 1. When you are older. Some nights, on instinct, your chest will tug itself away from the bed. It will not matter that you now live in a neighborhood where bullets typically do not vacation. You will still hear them. You will still feel...
Wed
15
Apr
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BRUJERIA

BRUJERIA Carmen is seeing things again. The oil drips from the walls; she swipes the grease onto her hands and tells me: “Mira, Estoy Unjida.” “Look, I am anointed.” God has always been her favorite lubricant. On occasion you can hear her bones...
Wed
15
Apr
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Within An Hour

Within an Hour for Jack Agüeros Within an hour she was exorcised. Doctors and the holy ghost summoned by the family pastor purged what was left of her, replaced it with Prozac. Pumped pills, sedatives, and psalms until she submitted. The privilege...
Wed
15
Apr
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Teeth*

Teeth*

María De Los Ángeles Pineda is dreaming of teeth

half- jaws snapping at her big toe pulling the covers

forcing her to feel the cool...

Wed
15
Apr
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Bendición: In Praise of All Who Seek Consulta From La Rubia

Bendición: In Praise of All Who Seek Consulta From La Rubia La Rubia: opens her home to patrons at 11 a.m. every day welcomes many regulars and some new faces into her modest living room shuffles the deck of faded naipes separating the cups, coins,...
Wed
15
Apr
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Thankful

Thankful For more than just a brief moment I come back to you Since moving away eleven years ago. Still baffled by how long it's been since We last spent this much time together. Want to desperately look you in the eyes as I Thank you for always...
Wed
15
Apr
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For Real This Time

For Real This Time

like keyboards replacing pens screens replace lined canvas now decorated in vibrant hues of positive vibes, anticipations and barriers broken no longer smeared by random thoughts, heartbreaks and unfulfilled...

Wed
15
Apr
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Writer’s Tango

Writer's Tango Before the children awake In between white sheets, adorned in blue they meet. Creeping, compliant and limber. Climbing over, under and in between opportunities with contortionist skill. Battling life obstacles desiring a chance to...
Wed
15
Apr
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LEGACY

LEGACY

This mouth has birthed earths of dirt, blood, roots, boots, leaves, limbs, grass, grit and wit I have created and destroyed worlds with these lips Between the base of my hips, I eclipse. Spiraling from my solar plexus...

Wed
15
Apr
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Expelled

Expelled In my excitement, I acted precipitously, told my close friends and family, I was a mother to be…… My skin was glowing, my hair bounced freely with new life. The nauseousness had finally gone away, I was floating on cloud 9 for 12 weeks and...
Wed
15
Apr
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LA TEQATA

LA TEQATA I was 10, At Abuela’s house, Thanksgiving dinner; They sat me across from Carmen, noticeably getting thinner and thinner. I remember the vagueness in her eyes, that disoriented stare. Struggling with the weight of her head, just before it...
Wed
15
Apr
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Five Days After My Grandmother’s Passing

Five Days After My Grandmother’s Passing Lucia , my daughter calls the fine china doll, held against her chest. My abuela’s name is a roar from her ashes filming the top of the Rio Nigua in Puerto Rico. The call wakes me suddenly, like the crack of...
Wed
15
Apr
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Apartment 3C

Apartment 3C My aunt in the Bronx grows an island in Apartment 3C, learned it from her mother. Titi Judy sits in her rocker within a labyrinth of leafy palm, amapolas pushing their way through a wall of cigar smoke. Vine extends itself, tangles in...
Wed
15
Apr
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City Serenade for Love’s First Kiss

City Serenade for Love’s First Kiss After his bubble lip bottom eats my top lip, I smile— a French smile, the Eiffel Tower looming behind his Caesar cut. I blink and the film tears. I’m still on the rotting back porch in corduroy overalls flicking...
Fri
10
Apr
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On Being Nuyorican

"One of the things my parents taught me, and I'll always be grateful for the gift, is to not ever let anybody else define me." Wilma Mankiller—Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, 1985-1995.

What is...

Fri
10
Apr
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¡Ay Virgen, yo no sé quién soy!

a Tato Laviera.

Me acaba de llamar la poeta ecologista Nancy Mercado en esta mañana de Oya, o la Virgen de la Candelaria, para preguntarme si nací en Nueva York. Le digo que no. Entonces quiere saber a...

Fri
10
Apr
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Green Boricuas: Everyday Conservation Choices in Food and Lifestyle

My mother was the first environmentalist I ever met. She did not make it to middle school and grew up in poverty in the Puerto Rico of the 1930s. Despite these challenges, or perhaps because of them, she always seemed to have...

Fri
10
Apr

Homenaje: Adela Fargas

I found Adela hunched over the back table in her self-named restaurant in Loisada slowly poring over the numbers to see if she had won anything. “Yo juego los números cada día,” she said squinting at me over her eyeglasses...

Thu
09
Apr
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In My Perfect Puerto Rico

In My Perfect Puerto Rico

My gray mother would be

Combing her mother’s white hair

On their turquoise painted porch...

Thu
09
Apr
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The Rose That Waits

The Rose That Waits

Like my past

It lies inside a trunk

Inside an empty box

Of chocolates tasted decades...

Thu
09
Apr
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My Mother’s Suitcase

My Mother’s Suitcase

A chalky black suitcase

Holds deeds for burial plots

Prepaid instructions

On the use...

Thu
09
Apr
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Origin of a Drug Addict

Origin of a Drug Addict

Mr. Bloom’s candy store:

oak shelves

glass barrel jars

creaking floor slats...

Wed
08
Apr
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Saturday Stand-Off

Saturday Stand-Off It smells like chuletas en casa de Titi. My stomach gurgles, I stare at the cat; the only safe place to look. Mami’s in a slapping mood. The cat looks like Igor all joroba’o when he digs in to yawn. Titi named him Yo-Yo on account...
Wed
08
Apr
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The Two-Headed Puerto Rican

The Two-Headed Puerto Rican Spanish mouth wakes up commuters on the D train delicious dirty laugh replete with innuendo, fleshy memory and unbridled lust for telling it like it is in the mixed company of Prada and Route 66. Spanish mouth can recite...
Tue
07
Apr
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DEAR GIRL, REMEMBER

DEAR GIRL, REMEMBER Dear girl, Remember that your arrival was bloody Your mother's screams your birth song That you drowned into life This life ain't for the weak Never let your knees buckle Submission won't be your repertoire Dear girl, They will...
Tue
07
Apr
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BLOODSTAINS

BLOODSTAINS They are still trying to cover the bloodstains Bisabuela They are stomping the ground hoping the dust clouds will cover their disdain Attempting to drown chocolate skin in goat’s milk Blaming dark flecks on Spanish pixie dust Swallowing...
Tue
07
Apr
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Nuyorican Tales

Nuyorican Tales My heart beats to the rhythm of the clave Caribbean sun-kissed skin Mi piel… café con leche Evidence of a tainted ancestry Coffee bean colored… These are the eyes of my mother Raised by the Bronx Musing on medleys of salsa Pouring...
Tue
07
Apr
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La Operación

La Operación Can you hear The silent sobs of Babies crying? A generation lost Mass genocide of our future They talk in whisssssss-pers No one knows them Hundreds of thousands of Singers, writers, maestras, doctors, politicians, actors, Mothers,...
Tue
07
Apr
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THE SHOEMAKER

THE SHOEMAKER You are a shoemaker of great skill with an inherent ability to create a shoe so beautiful that one ignores the distortion of the toes, the blisters at the heel, the bunions of conformity. You did not know your father well but became...
Tue
07
Apr
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I, too, am black

I, too, am black

inspired by the late great langston hughes

Although you may find me fair With medium brown eyes And naturally weird hair Of mixed heritage too many to name...
Tue
07
Apr
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Untitled 2

Untitled 2 Life, suffering and death-- the eternal holy trinity. Already I know too much about numbers two and three and am still trying to figure out what Life really is. Is it the routine and plodding of our days, the bittersweet bread earned by...
Tue
07
Apr
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black: of color pure and true

black: of color pure and true ( dedicated to mi pana, pedro pietri, and inspired by the late malcolm x and dr. king, who inspired me to read that dictionary and to use those foreign words ) according to those cunning custodians of webster’s wicked...
Tue
07
Apr
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just friends

just friends “just friends,” I promise I won’t mold you into whatever I want or make you invisible I won’t inspect you dissect you and reject you I won’t beat you enslave you prostitute you fuck you, screw you, nail you, bang you, ball you and let...
Tue
07
Apr
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Wet Poems in the Dark

Wet Poems in the Dark The wind sings lonely moonlit breezes tonight. Oceanic echoes from places I've yet to see travel through my window softening my skin with salted kisses. A'l Cuco no le gusta que lo llamen El Cuco. When feeding him morsels of...
Tue
07
Apr
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Nena de La Luna 212

Nena de La Luna 212 There was a time when mattresses served as trampolines; Centerpieces in fields of rubble. Gasoline perfumed the air, garbage bins large enough to conceal hosts of sins still smoked Plumes on the wind from last night’s bonfire...
Tue
07
Apr
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Soñamos y Lucharemos

Soñamos y Lucharemos We are, Somos, lo que soy Descendants of the hopeful and the practical whose dreams tacked down the uneven path for who we are today. Leaving all that they knew to follow a dream into the unknown. From barro to concrete...
Tue
07
Apr
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Chapter 3 Peinate el pelo

Chapter 3 Peinate el pelo El que no tiene Dinga Tiene Mandinga. “Carmelita ven a peinarte el pelo” “ Ya voy mami” Uhhhhh,How I hated when mami used to comb my hair! I have curly hair and for some people they will call it: "pelo Malo". Mami had a...
Tue
07
Apr
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Rican Issues

Rican Issues Say W hat? Could you please, Pleaseeeeeeeeeee repeat Did you said:” Molleta? Prieta? Morena? Ohh African! Hmmmmm, Soy Puertoriqueña. Yes, P uertorican. That I don’t look W hat ? Oh , I guess I don’t look cafe con leche mancha de plátano...
Tue
07
Apr
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Untitled

Untitled Iam Amapolas Chrysanthemums Guanábana And the tender meat of ripe mangoes. My skin have bathe in crimson roses And birth life In a jungle Of impossibilities. This body have Rebirth scars That lacerated the souls of thousands of warriors...
Tue
07
Apr
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Subway Poem

Subway Poem for Pedro I saw you in Grand Central today O this scorching hot summer day In the tunnel far from the sun 50 feet below street level In the underground hazy humidity of New York City’s MTA You were on your way Pressed tightly against the...
Tue
07
Apr
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Off Goes My Heart to Good Will

Off Goes My Heart to Good Will Red bag (almost brand new) (found a pair of earrings in the inside pocket /mis-matched and sparkly black bag (the one you wore everyday) red hat lady canvas shoulder bag, purple and red animal print pajamas you wore as...
Tue
07
Apr
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Poem for My Grifa-Rican Sistah Or Broken Ends Broken Promises

Poem for My Grifa-Rican Sistah Or Broken Ends Broken Promises

for my twin sister Melissa, who endured it with me

Braids twist and tie constrain baby naps never to be free braids twist and tie contain / hold in...
Tue
07
Apr
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Who I Am (Nuyorican)

Who I Am (Nuyorican) I walk down Lex with the stride of a native Nuyorican (like I got somewhere to go). And I know who I am / as I turn the corner swing past the multi-colored row of double parked cars / in front of the Kingdom Hall Church past the...
Tue
07
Apr
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A LADY

A LADY

THERE’S A LADY/ IN HER 50’S 6O’S/ SHE’S DRESSED ACTUALLY MORE SWADDLED IN LAYERS/ SWOLLEN

IN OVERSIZE BLACK SWEAT PANTS/ LIME GREEN JACKET WITH NEON WHITE STRIPES/ HOOD COVERS

HEAD UNDER SHE WEARS A BLACK SKULL CAP...

Tue
07
Apr
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Man Brought Down

Man Brought Down for Eric Garner man brought down we saw the footage over and over again and again each time more painful more wrong the man wide big looked strong as a bull tall but gentle he was it was there in his eyes a gentle man not looking...
Tue
07
Apr
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Rite of Passage for the Dolphins and Whales of Denmark and Japan

By Nancy Mercado

Rite of Passage for the Dolphins and Whales of Denmark and Japan

In the harbor

Men damn our existence

Plunging sickles into the hearts of our...

Tue
07
Apr
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But Just a Few

By Nancy Mercado

But Just a Few

I sit where a tree has a grand view to the sea

Where lizards climb down from shady hideouts to say hello on breezy afternoons...

Tue
07
Apr
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From The Moment You Died

From The Moment You Died for my father

From the moment you died Until it was time to bury you It poured wind-swept torrential rains Lightning and thunder Shook the coffin your wife chose From a full-color glossy...
Tue
07
Apr
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Tato Laviera

By Nancy Mercado

Tato Laviera

Monarch of exuberant madness

Roaring to the saints

Dancing to the tune

Of oceans and mild sea...

Tue
07
Apr
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Fernando Salicrup Presente

Fernando Salicrup Presente In honor of Co-Founder El Taller Boricua

Standing still in the center of storms, during strife and change he created a movement. In flux with all the political changes in El Barrio he along with others created...

Tue
07
Apr
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My Nuyorican Puerta

My Nuyorican Puerta

Storefront with a beat up bar I entered mid day/ mid week with my tattered paper. Tattered paper filled with words written unevenly fragmented and misspelled words: capturing a carved out moment of someone else’s...

Tue
07
Apr
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Life's Afternoon

Life's Afternoon She was crazy once herself, didn't know who or what she wanted to be. Every couple of days she would suffer from a nauseous heartbeat and deep-breathing confusion, wanting someone to be there, even a friend-- but no one knew her...
Tue
07
Apr
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The Day the Mermaids Sing

The Day the Mermaids Sing It's rough to walk tough all the time, drinking malta in the street as fire hydrants piss their false salvation into blasé gutters. I throw my leftover Fritos into the rubble, really wanting to dispose of useless...
Tue
07
Apr
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Untitled 1

My body is my coffin. It binds me to the earth's surface. It sits and complains while my mind soars. My body is my prison while my mind is free. It shackles me with size color gender and age. My body is a tyrant from which I want to escape. Who...
Tue
07
Apr
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HOOKIS pOOKIS

HOOKIS pOOKIS It is true that those who suddenly disperse keep us forever in suspense? RISE TABLE RISE Oh Reverend pedro Houdini hoovers somewhere above Mexico, and Texas awaiting a drop Sandwiched in a cloud peter pedro pietri in a trance caught...
Tue
07
Apr
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Pietri Knows … (“ I see a red door and I want to paint it black”)

Pietri Knows … (“ I see a red door and I want to paint it black”)

Pietri is singing to the sky And I am hiding My eyes Waiting till Sunrise The wind is making faces Dancing naked in black He is throwing condoms...
Mon
06
Apr
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When I Can No Longer Forget

When I Can No Longer Forget (For Abuela Juana) When I can no longer forget the smell of your body near you in the sacrament of our love get closer to me still tell me de tus historias the history of the Saint that lived in the sea Yemaya Tell me...
Mon
06
Apr
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Ode to Youth

Ode to Youth

for Jack Agüeros

Live now. Search for dreams that fill you with life. Avoid strange jungles with headhunters and traps that skin you alive. Avoid haters who do not love you or themselves, who poison the world...
Mon
06
Apr
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Ode to the Crone

Ode to the Crone You are sour like milk left too long on the table. It was never your choice or doing how hurricanes battered the walls of your garden until it caved in on itself. You are sunlight held captive in the abyss of waiting. A thirsting...
Mon
06
Apr
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Beaded Featherweights

Beaded Featherweights My life I take back when I choose, resist the onslaught of mindless words. My hands connect seeds into lavish adornments. Thoughts create patterns for ears to be holy. In the oceans of sound earrings at play on lobes, light-...
Mon
06
Apr
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Ode to the Moon

Ode to the Moon Nana Buruku, dancing heart, beacon spinning trails, gypsy queen, alone and full of light, traveling clock for migrating flocks, inspiring creatures to poems and howls on hills between concrete and bark. Madamita, meandering...
Mon
06
Apr
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Bridges

Bridges

for Yasmin Hernandez

Between Frida Kahlo and Julia De Burgos an artist builds connections on garden walls that cultivate souls. Snapshots. Between cultures and communities Mexicanos y...
Centro Voices (ISSN: 2379-3864).
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Centro Voices, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies or Hunter College, CUNY.