A Note

To my beautiful baby brother:

you have to grow up in an age of social media

and all of its toxins

and it is not your fault.

You have no control over it,

nor do I.

All I want do to is live it for you—

the suicides,

the mass shooting threats,

every day life in boring ass high school —

keep it boring!

School was meant to be that way,

safe enough to be boring.

Not even the white people are safe,

not even the rich people.

My beautiful Puerto Rican brother:

do you fit in? do you like it? do you not?

Tell me more than “ugh.”

I know your innocent face,

your soul-searching eyes

I have seen your heart

and its pure essence

a thousand times.

I just hope I told you enough stories…

about how much you are loved,

and how smart and kind and handsome

you are, my brother — you can do it,

because it cannot last for much longer.

I will take every bullet of some child

calling out for help;

I will relive 9th, 10th — fuck, every grade

if that is what it takes to protect you,

to take up that space of wondering.

The world has changed

in just 10 short years between me and you.

Look at what Facebook has done,

kids sending Snaps 1,000 times a day.

My brother I do not know shit about “SnapChat”

but I know you are more than it,

I promise you.

Everyone is wandering,

looking for more than a screen—

and yet video games have saved you.

Play SmashBros all freaking day

if that is what it takes to save you, my boy,

from giving a damn what people think.

How do I protect you from this world…

this pit of society

that is eating minds and bodies alive?

How do I get you to talk truth?

Who cares “how.”

Know that it is enough to try,

enough to be with yourself,

fully.

Whenever your body yells,

“Trauma!”

“Pain!”

“Greif!”

Cradle every part

and say, “I am here for you, always.”

And remember:

your sister is here for you.

Always.

 

March 29, 2019

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Starfish

On Fridays,

I volunteer to bring food from companies around New York City—

consequently, close to wherever I am to begin with—

and bring it to nearby shelters.

It’s a lot easier than feeling like a shit

as a homeless man walks by on the subway

but what am I, are we, to do?

It’s somehow, in the mess of human history, a collective fault.

One of your great grandmothers or great uncles twice removed

allowed this to happen, god damn it (I wish it was that simple)!

He walks pigeon toed like my brother,

who was bought $3,000 orthotics and attended therapy for years.

He walked past 10, 50, 100 people who look more or less like me

and I don’t care if you’re a Puerto Rican-Italian mix with Brooklyn roots:

You have some money.

You took a shower this week.

You have some way in your pocket or in your chest

to communicate

and be heard…

We are all starfish.

How many do we save?

 

If you want to volunteer to help rescue food from companies and restaurants around New York City, check out https://www.rescuingleftovercuisine.org/. It’s a simple way to make a difference, and you can choose rescues that best fit your schedule. xo

 

March 15, 2019

My Body, My Choice

Vinny chats me up as one can do in 8th grade

(as boys can do in 8th grade), and says,

“Girls look better with their hair down.”

 

10th grade:

Allie tells me over pizza in a torn up, faux leather booth:

“People think you’re really pretty.”

 

“Take the bait,” they whisper.

“We are you.”

Your face, your words,

your worth:

we hold them in our hands.

 

I grew fragile.

 

“Not to mention you’re beautiful,”

a text from Devin I saved on my phone for 2 years,

a reminder that if I kept this up,

I could be loved.

“You’re special,” they said.

“Your precise,” they reminded.

“Keep it up.”

I never heard them clearly;

it was always muffled in my ears.

 

Confidence was for the battlefield,

and without cleats on my feet

and a soccer ball underneath

I depended, fully,

on this

damn

face.

 

Middle school:

Vinny was saying he “saw my potential”

and in that moment he pointed a finger at a moon

I did not know — that lights up the sky day and night.

With each step forward from that statement came promise,

like one day my body would, miraculously, lift off the ground and fly.

 

High school: I worked, observed, learned to follow the rules.

I made friends. I chased boys (or at least followed the chasers).

I saw a twinkle form in my eyes like the sun hitting my face

and I felt something grow: confidence big enough to sew a sweater.

That confidence was soft and warm and humble,

each stitch a modest color, so I put it on:

oh, the comfort…the ease.

 

What sweater?

This is my skin, clear as day.

I don’t need all of these words–

they’re woven into my Long Island DNA

and somewhere…somewhere…I seized it.

 

College: I was prepared!

My sweater was woven!

My charm was rooted!

Soccer, friends, face.

 

And then, college happened.

And it was full of devils,

people a mere sweater cannot take on

you want — comfort?

We’ll beat you.

You want — friendship?

We’ll desert you.

You think you’ve got talent?

We’ll show you.

Bam               bam              bam.

My skin faded, my body ached,

and what can a person do but blame what is left?

 

Wisdom swims through my veins.

Nana has her Jesus

and I have my Julia de Burgos

and that’s quite alright with me.

I build a new ship to freedom…

something you cannot wear, but ride–

invisible on all sides, impenetrable,

so much so that my world forgets the words

“break” and “fear” and “fall,”

that Kenny’s story can be his own.

that Marlena’s antagonism can be her own,

and that I can feel the wisdom in me,

the quiet confidence that does not need

a coach to tell me my worth.

 

I just play.

 

December 22, 2018

Too Much

So –

do you think this neighborhood is too

gay

for you,

maybe too

poor 

for you

and oh, that means too

dangerous 

for you?

Are you just so

uncomfortable

when you see people

who are

not

like

you

because you’re not gay –

gosh, no;

and you’re not poor,

not gonna steal some stuff

off some other soul’s back

because you were left behind

to feed a mother and two kids-

no way.

 

You are just a person,

after all–

you shouldn’t

have to deal

with these feelings,

these

difficult

thoughts.

No —

you can just leave them outside,

let them blow away

in the blizzard,

land on someone else’s

snowy, white

front step.

 

 

January 3, 2018

Stories

Waves of story –

that is an emotional life…

trauma informed you have to mentally be still,

learn to see the busyness in your body, in your mind, practice

often, even though it isn’t fair you were born into a god damned

patriarchal, capitalistic, racist, classist, sexist, homophobic society

that favors my white Latina skin, that denies my queerness,
that pokes fun at my gender
every   single    day.

And stories- stories are life’s meaning that, in their fullest,
most fleshed out form, make us human.

I want this to be an ode to SBU; to HC;

an ode to Bruce,

my body, my breath;

an ode to my throat; an ode to my face;

an ode to my familia, my Kenny, my mother; an ode to my father,
brother, sister, to friends long lost;

an ode to America, to nationalism and Puerto Rico’s remains;

an ode to my pen;

an ode to emotional bodies laying dormant, untouched,

by a warmed soul lingering underneath,

pure animal energy

born in the womb of the Earth, returning to the universe

once I dare to turn each story around…

December 6, 2017

Love or Life?

Do I choose love,

or do I choose life,

down in here in this pit of society

where I can chose 1, be a woman

or 2, be someone, something else

I don’t know what that something is,

exactly, but I do know

it is something of a warrior,

everything of a human being

when love becomes “the next step” in life,

when it becomes a final goal

it ruins the songs for me, it ruins the longing in my heart

for love and life and more,

a world that can make sense again,

a space where I can start learning how the puzzle fits together

rather than about each individual piece,

peace does not, will not, never comes from love alone

these good-vibes-only signs make me want to be bad

I want to speak a language everyone will understand,

that will encompass sympathy and empathy and compassion

and purpose and results. I want to act.

 

I do want love.

But I want to live, too.

I want to live the life I choose,

not just that of the mother or the wife or the nurturer.

 

I want to give this Earth a voice.

That would do just fine.

 

a rambling in the wake International Women’s Day…

a day we shouldn’t need to celebrate…a day that should be every. day.

March 10, 2017

Practice

What makes you think you have to win,

that this is all a game?

 

I think that’s what they want you to think.

I think it’s what they’ve fed you since you were four.

 

Such a precious word, Practice.

 

Life is not winning and losing

and capitalism and greed

and first and last

and fixing and solving

and searching and striving.

 

Life is Practice–

for its own sake.

 

February 11, 2017