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Who could detain me with useless illusions
when my soul begins to complete its work?
—Julia De Burgos

When the joker appears
With mouthfuls of shadows and smoke
Crazily waving his self-import in my face
Like flags waving front suburban homes
As if to cover the hate crimes of this country
When he yells to idle my mind
Spewing out vortexes in tongues
Filled with false virtues
Like commercials that mask
The plunder of impoverished lives
The enslavement of darker skin
The raping of female years
I know the joker is oblivious
That his time steadily dwindles
Like any man's life
That a pine box
A crematorium await him
Just as they await me
That he does not know
My silence is an impenetrable shield

©Nancy Mercado 2009.


The Dead


Where I lay the dream of
following myself in your soul
—Julia De Burgos

I face the universe
When I speak to the dead
I lay as they do
In their coffins
My body upright
Revealed to the wide expanse
Of the firmament
There I speak with mother
In some brightly-lit hallway
She says she is going
To sleep with father
His voice resonating from inside
A black room she enters
I often speak to the dead
They share their days with me
Provide advice
They have no wings
No halos
No emitting light from within
They're people just like you and like me

©Nancy Mercado 2009.


La Borinqueña Panaderia


In La Borinqueña Panaderia
In el Coto Laurel
The workers speak Spanish
They have that dry Puerto Rican
Sense of humor
They bake bread daily
Make these little ham & cheese sandwiches
On hot dog bread we call bocadillos
In La Borinqueña
They have Puerto Rican pastries
And the aroma of newly cooked
Rice and beans and chicken

The people of
La Borinqueña Panaderia
Make me feel
Warm and welcomed

Just like those in La Rosita
On Broadway and 108th street
In New York City

©Nancy Mercado 2009.


New York at 42


Twenty-five years later New York
And I'm still in love with you
Like the husband I've never had
Who is patient and tends to me
And is beautiful

I see the friends I love in you New York
And smell our home cooked meals
Taste our arroz con gandules
Our sushi and chicken korma
Our tortellini and crème caramels

And hear the many tongues
That describe what you are New York
Your pedestrian-ridden streets
Of men on Washington Heights corners
Whistling at women daily going by
Of frenzied Herald Square shoppers
And Soho's privileged class

And hear the many intricate songs
Of birds flying in Central Park
And the songs of those
Traveling over your rivers

Grateful for all that you are
New York
For years of lessons taught
In Harlem
On the Upper West Side

For the memories you gave
A naïve young girl
Of the massive beauty
Of your stacked skyline

©Nancy Mercado 2009.


What Archeologists Will Say


In our home each room
Is a different color
All the walls are made of cement
Except the doors
They're made of cheap wood
They're just doors that work

In thousands of years archeologists
Will dig up our Puerto Rican home
And say my family lived in a but
These scientists will say
We were a practical people
We were villagers who were poor
They will say we used
Simple dishes to eat from
We had great mastery
Of utensils and cookware

In thousands of years
Archeologists will dig us up
And judging from the structure
Of our skulls they will estimate
We had dark pigmentation
We were small in stature
They will say my family was
A peaceful tribe
They will never know
Who we really were

©Nancy Mercado 2009.

Letras Vol.01/2010

letras sky scraper