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

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Oh, heart

How many ways can a heart break?

How many ways can it be seen?

 

It’s different than being watched–

that’s what they teach us

(that’s what I’ve learned, anyway).

 

They are watching me, all of them:

walking, sitting, eating, drinking,

readying themselves

to be the same animal I am.

 

But they don’t teach us that.

Animals?

What animals?

 

Do squirrels know a broken heart?

A lost friend, cousin, partner,

hopeful wanna-be?

Do humans have a “special”

bone in their bodies?

 

Back to heart break, then.

 

One way, friendship.

You make excuses.

You give them the room they need to hurt you

because you love them, and so they leave you

(congratulations on your wedding–

your dress was snug, but otherwise alright.

P.S. I don’t know how to forgive you).

 

Sometimes, you hurt them, friends.

Sometimes, you don’t know how or why.

Letter to future self (heck no, past self):

communication is a measure of maturity.

If someone won’t talk to you, it’s not your fault.

Go find someone that will, and send your love

to the quiet one. Fuck them, but love them anyway.

 

And then there was the time you fell in love with her

anyway, the time you learned that it was possible.

The world of love is not only “he’s” and “she’s.”

That is good.

 

And then you look behind that crevice in your heart’s

third chamber and you see all the “he’s”:

the high school acquaintance, the high school sweetheart,

the best friend. You see the quiet, lonely college boy

in the body of a man, the head-one-size-too-big gentleman

who was not so gentle, took a plane to Berlin

and never called again. You see the stupid in-betweens

who you never really cared for, who sunk you down

slowly, slowly,

and the one you learned from for a year,

but still kind of reminds you of Arnie.

 

And then there’s you.

The perfect face. The perfect hair.

The perfect laugh. The perfect stare.

All the perfections of a momentary crush

that don’t seem to shake off.

 

You’re just the next one to break my heart.

 

I don’t want you to, though. It feels too good

thinking of you. So I’ll keep the talking to a minimum

in my head, save it for next time I see you and make up

another story of how I’m not good enough,

of the ways your perfection (I know “there’s no perfect,”

but you still mesmerize me)- could never consider

looking my broken hearted way.

 

But you don’t know how I feel, do you?

Why would you?

I’ve known you for 2 years

but have felt this for 2 months.

 

It never makes sense, remember?

 

Because humans are not special.

Because no one is watching.

Because we’re all just trying

to find someone,

some one,

to see us.

 

Titled inspired by/owed to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqvuydbEv10
September 30, 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

“Nature”

“In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it) become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both.” –Pedagogy of the Oppressed 

Pedagogy of the Oppressed has been an influential text in my own life and the work that I do as an educator.  But there is another, arguably more crucial way to interpret this term, “oppressor.”

We oppress the Earth through the way we live.  Every single day.  Killing this Earth and the life that lives on it.

Balance is the way.  We cannot take and not give back.

There is no refusing this fact.

We must put our energy into changing the way we live as individuals, communities, as a society as a whole.  For there is no “nature”– the term simply separates us from a whole we could never truly separate ourselves from.  There is simply this Earth and the beings that live on it, all depending on balance and diversity to survive.   No matter what we believe, we must KNOW this to be true.  And we must start practicing it.

Perhaps we are not inherently flawed as human beings; we are simply living a destructive lifestyle.

Sadly, tragically, however you feel about it, the Earth will not turn around and “save us.” It will balance itself as it sees fit.  Thus we, humans, the majority of us living in some form of modern society that takes more than it gives, must turn the quote around.  The oppressor must admit to their oppression and not only restore our humanity but redefine it.  Being human should not be about power.

Perhaps it should be about life.

It is much simpler to imagine ways for an individual to change their lifestyles than ways that an entire society can change.  If you or anyone you know has ideas, please share.

January 3, 2017

Subway Woman

She looks into the subway car

like a criminal looks into their jail cell

with contempt, with bitterness,

with acceptance.

 

It’s 1AM, car a quarter full,

faint summer air conditioning filling

the air along with her grievances.

 

She resigns, lays back in her seat

after picking some lint out of her hair

she doesn’t know how she got here, either.

 

 

Why this city? Why that man

that made you so tired you didn’t care

to go back to the love you found

beneath the stairs, hand in hand,

balancing the acts of dependance and diplomacy.

 

Plastic bag full on the lap,

eyes closed now, keeping still–

maybe that will make everything less real:

 

“I belong in the subway, now.

This orange chair may backdrop

to a life of longing,

I’ll sit here and nap

until I reach my destination unknown

(probably 145th street).

 

Perm fixed upon me with slight pride

I thought maybe that would help free me

but I guess adding more layers, more chemicals,

more time and energy doesn’t make up

for the enthusiasm my story has stolen from me.

 

How fun it was to lay in the sun at high noon,

park bench, husband waiting. How full the moon

felt when I first read his lips, his eyes, his kiss.

 

The kids will understand;

they are older now.

 

I can sleep in peace.”

 

based on a woman I saw in the NYC subway 

 

July 31, 2016