From Barrio Obrero to La Quince

translated by Urayoán Noel

Walking is a process in ruins,
a dead history.

You inhabit the ruin and you find
a coin here and there rolling on the ground.

Men without eyes are threshing away time
in Santurce’s surviving businesses. 

It makes you want to cry
or sneak into the yards and pluck the fruits
of so many inhabitable houses 
with boarded-up windows and doors.

The city is full of homeless people.
The city is full of poor immigrants dreaming of the United States.

Perhaps leaving and coming back makes you a foreigner. 

There’s so much you don’t know about Puerto Rico now.
You begin discovering it by walking.

 


De Barrio Obrero a La Quince

 

Caminar es un proceso en ruinas,
historia muerta.

Habitas la ruina y encuentras
una que otra moneda rodando por el piso.

Hombres sin ojos desgranan tiempo
en los negocios que sobreviven en Santurce.

Da ganas de llorar
o de meterse al patio y arrancarle frutas
a tanta casa habitable
con las puertas y ventanas clausuradas.

La ciudad llena de personas sin hogar.
La ciudad llena de inmigrantes pobres que sueñan con Estados Unidos.

Irse y volver acaso te vuelve un extranjero.

Desconoces ahora tanto a Puerto Rico.
Caminando se empieza a descubrirlo.

Related Poems

P̶R̶O̶M̶E̶S̶A̶

and in each for such as fall to board
reduced to liquid dispute over sight
the term means and the term means
territory the term me- island budget,
its sole discretion reports instrument
pursuant to paragraph or subsection

session the public powers by section
data in the sunshine code; the board
shall secure a metadata government,
document electric metadata insights
with respect to Puerto Rico its budget
with respect to the budget the meaning

given to debtor. Trustee made means
operative under this operative section:
a wild refuge of solid waste to budget.
No electricity, water, nothing to board
to pool the pool separate or cite sight
in violation of violation. Instrumental

in such noncompliance, the governor
deadlines instrum-, deadfreeze, mean
bankruptcy of public faith in oversight.
Privatization, redeem this Act, section
on behalf of debtor submits to board
no coven to plebiscite ‘cept budget

bond bond restructuring budget budget
certain lands exclude land instrument
in decline—body of waste overboard
nothing shall endanger species means
emergency of waterbody undersection.

an opportunity for privatization, sight
the insolvency, counterparty budgets
to reduce oil electric for island territory
island electric power authority means
transitioning to privatized government,
a cause to challenge unlawful board.

Puerto Rico

Born on a turf
a medieval remnant
Owned by the United States
it was almost water
So minute the earthen formation,
barely rock,
a swift of natura intention
geologic lift forgot the mud load
as the rising slow, eruption
popped
peep there it is piedra Caribe,
world mapmakers save
on the ink,
what minuscule elaboration
bays, lakes,
hidden caves
landscape, chains of mountains
opening blue neck of sky
mounted glued
alongside other Hispano-Caribbean isles
Santo Domingo/embracing Haiti
Cuba bird snake long.
Spanish-African movement.
the Federation which
Betances the doctor clambered for
the Hispania Antilles,
intellectual political Independence.
Some letter bestowing Puerto Rico
sovereignty
from the Spanish Crown
the United States no desire
to open that envelope.
Betances visionary mestizo
Paris his doctors’ foot.

The epoch of gold
when on the island with my son
we made home,
in the neighborhood of
the tobacconists
Aguas Buenas
on a street called Antorcha
a socialist flame
of the independentistas
workers barrio of chichales.
My family there Generations.
The mornings waking my son
for school,
watching him become a man,
awakening sense to life,
his first girl kisses
that pretty brown girl
primer girlfriend
I spotted them once
wrapped round each other,
like two bacalaito fritters
tangled,
later my mother cooked
Red beans and plantain tostones
along with yellow rice sparked with corn,
The island was this sofrito flavor for me,
bolero music of my mother
she grew sadness with the lyrics
wondering of all the lost loves,
memories illusions making
efforts to materialize,
see them almost
like bridges hanging out
from her eyes.
Days were
found her in tears
lonely in her room
Fragrance of Florida water
circulating blue colcha,
picture of her mother
and father above bed,
nothing was ever coming,
the only future was the end.

The Caribbean is everywhere
lost within us,
trapped in kitsch glorious
rooms of plasticity jails,
so much grime ‘’tween
the beauty contra-la-danza,
René Marqués our writer
Belched out
“Condenao mar, tanta agua
Y no limpia nah”

Through the bullets
flying now in panoramic tropical
scenarios,
Mother kept singing,
as esperanza, gently vibrato
hope like a white
Garza landing upon a cadaver.

Humming
songsforever
soothing.
convinced
she would meet
everyone she knew
in heaven again.
Singing boleros
café con leche,
Pastelillos de Guayaba.

To the bad times,
give a happy face,
place a red amapola
in your black dark hair.
Revive the mummies,
the dead,
burst the bodies
out of the coffins
let’s all walk to the plaza
this final time
paint with silver starlight
the ancient songs
in night sky,
Rain Again
What never commenced
Comes to a finale.

in puerto rico we inherit your wars

maldita sea we fight them and what did you give us

under the church in mayagüez there are taíno bones
the father knows it
all the fathers

he said take this ribbon and measure the church dimensions
tell me if it's worth
destroying faith for some bones

what i saw when i walked around with my ribbon
were old women praying to papito dios
with tears of faith for his creatures
malformed by desire
            airs of bettering what isn't enough
i saw the faces of saints some sweet and others
as arbitrary as abstinence 
more than anything i saw the gold the cruelty

i went back to the father after covering the church
with the ribbon the scene of a crime
and bendito i didn't ask for forgiveness
nor could i explain
            the newfound hate


en puerto rico heredamos tus guerras

maldita sea las peleamos y qué nos diste

debajo de la iglesia de mayagüez hay huesos de taíno
y el padre lo sabe
todos los padres

dijo toma la cinta y mide las dimensiones de la iglesia
dime si vale la pena
por unos huesos destruir la fe

lo que vi cuando caminaba con mi cinta
eran viejitas sentadas rezándole a papito dios
con lágrimas de fe por sus criaturas
malformadas por el deseo
                       aires de mejorar lo que no basta
vi las caras de santos algunos dulces y otros
tan abitrarios como la abstinencia
más que todo vi el oro la crueldad

volví al padre tras cubrir la iglesia con la cinta
la escena de una crimen
y bendito no le pedí perdón