Nuyorican Tales

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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 Celia, Hector, Frankie &Ruben
From apartment windows
Inspiring spontaneous song and dance
From locals watching games of domino
On city sidewalks
 
Childhood memories of the syrupy sweet
Tamarindo piraguas and
Playing in pompas to cool down
On heat drenched summer city days
We eagerly anticipated the
Puerto Rican Day Parade
With our banderas held high
We shouted WEEEEPPPPPAAAAA
 
Que Viva Puerto Rico
Isla Del Encanto
Amor de mi alma
Never questioning whether our pride
Was innate or instilled
We were raised to love all of who were are
Mamí didn’t tolerate ignorance
 
Our bodies fed on strict diets of
pernil, arroz con gandules y yuca
Barrio frituras – alcapurias y bacalitos
Jugo de Guayaba in Goya cans
Christmas meant pastels y arroz con dulce
An extra present for leaving grass under your bed
Para los Reyes Magos
 
Annual pilgrimages to Borinquen
Island of my mother’s birth
Island of my soul’s content
A moment to become one with
Con nuestras raices cultural
 
We sang bright eyed and hopeful
Schoolgirl choruses of
Alegre vengo de la motaña
De mi cabaña que alegre esta
Y a mis amigos les traigo flores
De las mejores de mi rosal
 
Looking forward time spent
With Mamí Panchita, mis Tios
Tias y primo hermanos
I miss my grandmother’s eyes
Knowing Papito Kique from
Old tales y Mama Chonga a testament
To an ancestry rooted in slavery
 
A return to New York City
Nueva York where school buildings
Are named after Julia de Burgos,
Tito Puente y Felisa Rincón de Gautier
And we hang images of Don Pedro
Albizu Campos in our homes
 
We were fluent in Spanglish
Raised on a mixed bag of
Grease, Gone With the Wind and Marry Poppins
El Chavo del Ocho and watched Iris Chacón
shake her cadera on television
 
Este orgullo born in me
Rooted in my mother's journey
Grounded in a New York's cement
Spiritually bound to my ancestors
Divine inspiration, I pen my history
 
This is my story
A tales of two cultures
Two countries, two languages
One idenity, one nuyorican
One me

© J. F. SEARY. Published by permission in Centro Voices on 11 April 2015.

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.