Remember Their Names

Share Button
[Photo: Isamar Abreu, Flickr]

[Photo: Isamar Abreu, Flickr]

the evening whispers a flickering flame
& the streets of spanish harlem are quiet

you can feel it change on 116th st.
where la marqueta is staring down its roads
& sees the faces bleaching with the gentrification

1st ave. is being tidal waved with bull’s-eyes
on the corner children hold signs that say libertad
but you understand it as something
that has to be freed or liberated so you introduce
a slow invasion instead of self preservation

salsa isn’t as loud as it used to be in the streets
the congas are quiet, the bombas have been defused
but there is still a resistance in the streets
we are looking for pedro pietri
to give us our passports
so we can detach ourselves from ourselves
if you don’t recognize our birth certificates
then we don’t recognize your citizenship

we wander through the streets of our memory
looking for julia de burgos
in the concrete of our tongue

where is el barrio?

here we stand on lexington ave.
battling for our self respect
& have our names recognized
that we are apart of a tradition of beauty
that has been here since the 50s
with a beautiful array of black & brown faces

this is not the “upper upper east side”
this is not “spaha”
this is not “upper yorkville”

we will not let nyc be transformed
by real estate developers for the sake
of free market capitalism
we carry the weight
of the young lords on our shoulders
filiberto is screaming from the rooftops
but no one hears him because the 6 train is too loud

we hear the gunshots
they are killing our leaders
but the community doesn’t know their names

we are the children of lolita
raised in a city with a skyline taller than god

we are trying to look at the stars
willie perdomo told us about but the space
is being brought by home depot

2nd ave. holds the blood of the our history
betances, brugman, bracetti & rojas
are standing on the corner with their fingerprints
redder than red staining these streets with
a legacy that has to be remembered

this is not the first time someone
has tried to take what’s ours on an island
we have seen this before from
columbus, the united states military
robert moses & his eminent domain

we are not nomads
where we lay our guayabera is our home
arrest the politicos who say they defend us
but do not walk with us

the ghosts of our nationalism
are on columbus ave. holding their bodies
riddled with radiation & bullets

their names carried by the wind
by our breath & hearts

we speak their names
with love & gratitude
for their struggle & commitment
to our progression

de hostos
cofresí
de diego
gonzalo marín
matienzo cintrón
mattei lluberas
ramírez medina
rodríguez de tió
ríus rivera
ruiz belvis
schomburg
valero de bernabe
zeno gandía
fernández
aguila blanca
albizu campos
cancel miranda
vázquez
canales
canales
canales
coll y cuchí
collazo
corretjer
delgado
matos paoli
santos torresola
viscal garriga
márques
vélez rieckehoff
margenat
soto vélez
rodríguez-trias
barceló berríos
boschetti
mari brás
brown
concepción de gracia
ramírez
davila
escobar
gerena
de lourdes santiago
torres
torres
torres
rodríguez orellana
pedreira
poventud
thomas
lópez rivera
rivera
rivera
pérez
morales

let these names rename these streets
let these names be our conduit to our fighting spirit
let these names remind us that
we are a continuation of a battle that has been everlasting
since our first breath on borikén.

_____________

Bonafide Rojas is a Puerto Rican/ Nuyorican poet from New York City. He recently released a new book of poetry, “Renovatio” (Grand Concourse Press, 2014).

Print this entry

Share / Email

Comments

comments