Boricua Poets Respond to Orlando Tragedy

gabriela's picture

Andres Chulisi Rodriguez

Here at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies we are deeply saddened by the Orlando massacre that occurred this past Sunday. It’s no secret by now that 23 of the 49 victims of the shooting at club Pulse were Puerto Rican. Our hearts are with the families of the lives lost and understand our responsibility as an organization to write about the issue in response. As a method of healing we asked Boricua poets to contribute work in the wake of the tragedy and will be publishing their pieces on a rolling basis.

Our first featured poem was contributed by Andres Chulisi Rodriguez.


Mother lights a candle in memory of her son.

Those conversations run through her mind.

“Cuidate papi! This word is never nice.”

She recalls how he had to fight to find himself.

To believe in what is taken advantage of on the daily for those not gay-

Love, friends and a safe space.

Salted rivers rearrange her make-up

She thinks of all of them.

The ones who found love through unity,

through acceptance,

through bonds never spoken of.

It was seen, felt, captured in the smiles they fought to keep.

She remembered telling him-

“Papi you have 3 strikes against you. Your latino, gay and of color”

He held on to his worries under perched lips and smiles.

“Mami I have friends that accept me,

family that protects me and


who loves me for all I am. Thank you”

Saturday night.

“Quiero bailar para despojar.”

Latino party.

The joy of being latino. Borinquen. Con sabor.

They exchange saludos in cocktails and friendly besos.

They speak of a how good life is.

How they can marry.

How they can adopt.

How they are happy to be in America the free!

Then the pop. The drinks fly. The screams.

They fall, one by one! No prayers on their lips.

No last goodbye thoughts.

Just pop and fall!

Unexpected death leaves much for the spirit to grasp.

More screams, more falling, more death.

Bloody and senseless. Hate filled and hurtful.

All because Mateen had self-hatred. He couldn’t live and let live.

He couldn’t accept them, accept us, accept himself.

Andres Chulisi Rodriguez is an HOLA award winning and AUDELCO nominated actor, and self published author of his book "Slips, Trips and Falls"-- a collection of personal essays and poetry. He is a performance poet and facilitator to acting and writing workshops. He has also produced and directed LoseControltv, a comedy troupe that can be found on youtube. His one man show "I'm Just Saying" sold out the National Black Theater in September of 2015 and made it back to the stage in February of 2016 at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. Brooklyn born and raised, he now resides in Harlem and is a facilitator to Full Circle Ensemble- a group of writers from the Bronx that meets on Sunday mornings.

© Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Published in Centro Voices on 18 June 2016.

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.