Saturday, January 10, 2009

to miguel pinero

Being a Nuyorican Grand slam champ, I have definitely thought about the history behind the title. In fact the history of the venue is particularly what makes any Nuyorican title worthy of mention. It fascinates me how live the spirit of the Cafe is. There is no stage quite like a Nuyorican Poet's Cafe stage, and for anyone that says different, trust: go see for yourself. something is rather mystical about the building, the audience, the ambiance. It definitely has been imitated on every poetry television show, commercial, etc and yet could never be duplicated. I wasn't able to stay long but while I was there, this past friday was a semi-final night, and what an incredible night it was. Mahogany Browne is a remarkable host and is able to bring such a startling energy out of the crowd, a type of energy that is so rare and truly magical. She gets the crowd laughing and dancing that way they don't leave every week judging a poetry venue as just a finger-snap audience member overwhelmed with the range of evoked emotions. Her light-hearted Oakland by way of Brooklyn humor always sets the crowd afire with a warm joy.
Anywho, I think about ol school poets often, i refer to them for inspiration, guidance, and just wanna make sure I'm creating my own voice in this art. Not too long ago, I looked up "Miguel Pinero" on youtube hoping to catch some live footage of him and wat'd ya know, i found one real dope youtube clip. I don't think most people even know this is out there but take a look at it. Miguel was truly something. I hope us poets have made him proud, that Nuyorican is something he could've been truly proud of...sometimes i see miguel algarin sitting at the bar of nuyorican along with pepe's loud self. and well, most nights algarin is either a full bundle of true nuyorican humor or some days he can be a ghostly image of the past, appearing haunted--i wonder often what it must be like to see all that you've lived and loved come and go, to be truly a living legend while gentrification and time takes your neighborhood and cornerstone memories...i admire the man that he is in spite of the man he is not. may we never forget either of them...

check out:

a poem i am working on, more like a recent freewrite...


The only Puerto Rican I know
is the kind whose radiant rosebud sun
rises on a rusted fire-escape
in Washington Heights
and sets
in the black coffee
of an immigrant
after cleaning
behind white folk
in a park ave hotel.
the mornings she'd make farina with bleeding raw cinnamon
she turned into the character of some book
i believed i had read called a memory in my childhood
how she used to lock food in her bedroom
wen she went to work
the way i know hunger like an angered stomach
feeding on itself
the kind of starving a wicked aunt
A flat-chested brown bean niece
how a man will never find me beautiful
never pale enough to be spanish

the kind whose uncle's crooked smile
And salami belly
clicked through football games
all Sunday
a dream
too American,
too much drive and passion
to pursue

the only puerto rican i know
is the kind whose prima
was too fast
and too insecure of
the round mango breasts God gave her
too early to know how to walk with them
how to hold her head high with them,
how to keep from losing
her virginity
some little boy's dirty fingers slipping btwn
her legs
sitting atop abuela's bathroom sink

the kind whose primo becomes
a yellow bumble bee of a latin king,
remembering the bodega on 189th where i'd get him loosies
they were a quarter then

whose grandfather dies
a loud carona-drunk
latin laughter, salsa dancing
in his grand daughter's memory

the only Puerto Rican I know
is my father
a running faucet of a man
who could never keep up with his legs.
a once told romantic love of a bitter woman,
who bore his child,
a fuming fire in her voice,
only to grow and grow
a warring soldier of love and loss.
reminiscing on his potters field mouth,
how his smile hurt me
his teeth were like tombstones
the way they stood in his gums like graves.
how his construction-work fingers grasped a heineken bottle,
flicked a newport cigarette bud
the way i saved them like souvenirs
the only puerto rican i know
i deny as my father
they called him angel
a wicked sweet joke
some God in the heavens found funny



  1. Anonymous11:24 AM

    your poem speaks to so many of our personal stories...I'm Dominican so it's two fold for me. One, as a black women and second as a Dominican women.I see myself as a black Latina but society always wants me to choose. For one group I'm not black enough and for the other group I'm "trying" to be black...
    AKA Yvette

  2. wow homie, I didnt know there was footage of him performing in utube, thats tight, One of my first t-shirt designs was on him...

    that was tight!!!!
    to see him so live, thanks!!!

  3. Anonymous1:55 PM

    Again I def love the vulnerability in this piece