The Borinqueneer

the United States plucked me like a platano
from my sizzling island. tossed me

into a bubbling frying pan of vegetable oil
on my path to cultivate my God. serving another’s sin

smelling of fritura I selected to defend a people I doubted
I belonged to. arrived in a Hell masked in frozen ash.

prayer hands packed in SPAM barracks. would rather speak
of God during lights out. what distant kitchen prepares you

for the heat of lamenting firearms? the frostbite of Korean winter
we praised God for protection and prayed for the hands

that prepared the meal.



When The Sun Doesn’t Rise


I was always raising my hand
and shouting out answers
and needing the grade, pleading
a case; a teacher’s ace. I was absent
sometimes. I would lay
in a bed that inhaled me.
Heart would slap into rapid beats.
Non Stop shaking, I wouldn’t feel right.
Mom worked mornings with
diesel fuel and sleepy eyed children
and she’d discover me still home
as if I was skipping school but she knew I’d never
I wouldn’t feel right. I couldn’t. Waited
in heavy gravity I heard her keys at the door.
The weight of worry, a jagged blanket of shame
Worn out, often and awful. I couldn’t
go to school, brave the outside
of my royal blue walls I painted
myself or have to explain why
I am cut in half. Why I am still here.
As soon as my mother returns from her
first route. I tell her that
I am not sick
as if to come clean
and not be seen as a liar
I wouldn’t feel right





with                         warm
water                  heated
by                          fire
furnace       broken

plastic bucket
and cup.
A baptism
with wash cloths
scrubbing dead skin of sand
devoid of sun. Shivering in my
skin in a tub touched by winter,
I am closer to an island I have
only been to once. My mother
in the distance urging me to listen
to the clicking of copper colored
frogs and chickens sifting through
feed. I could hear it too, just
beyond 28th and Brown
and the hills of snow
that separate the
streets from the



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