Un Mango Grows in Kansas

You have found me
hidden in a wheat field
within a husk of corn
growing for you

I am ready
pick me

Hold me in your hands
remove my skin
peel away my color
find that I am tender
soft and sweet

Eat of me
until there is nothing
and your mouths are empty
and your bellies filled

What is left
will live
as seed 
to grow 
again
brighter 
hardened
and less bitter

Mi Isla

I ate a mango today
it was mostly green
with reds and yellows.

El Yunque, at dawn
is mostly green
with reds and yellows.

My homeland’s enchanted
full of shady jungle mountains,
gawking naked beaches;
slowly necking ocean.

There, 
sea breezes woo the palm trees
and peeping coconuts faint
from holding on too long,
in sand, asleep;
daydreaming of me.

Tonight, 
un brindis por ti Papá.

Let us pretend, the crickets are
drunken coquies de parranda,
struggling with loss,
singing in the wrong key,
playing out of tune; unable
to find their way home.

Let us pretend, we are surrounded
by vacation not work,
that all this wheat is beach,
that the above blue is ocean.

Let us pretend, you are watching me, 
ripe in a hammock’s womb,
strung to horizons with no ocean
or beach sand near nor fear 
that I’ve become landlocked here,

surrounded by jíbaros,
who don’t like jíbaros;

still an island.

In The Red

you’ve worked so hard
from the farm to the factory
in the county & the city

you’ve always paid on time
for peace of mind
—your body as collateral
so you may rest & retire
when the time came
—knowing you’ll be fine

but somehow
you still owe today
& you are all out of body 

New American

Don’t call me immigrant
I am the New American 
striving in New America
as a New American
I am not your invader
not an animal
nor criminal
I am a just person
just striving 
in a New America

In New America I am
a full-time student 
overtime worker
volunteering in my free time
if I plan enough ahead for free time
if I can even afford the free time
if my free time is approved

I work hard in New America
3rd shift warehouse 
2nd shift my house
always on call
no days off
freelance for life
4 jobs a week
blue and white collar

Don’t call me immigrant
I am the New American 
surviving in New America
as a New American
I am not your invader
not an animal
nor criminal
I am a just person
just surviving
in a New America

This is New America
student loans for all
high rent 
higher utilities 
low pay
rising healthcare costs
the cost of living
—deadly
no living wage
living enraged 
my cousins encaged 
for wanting to live in
a safer part of
New America

Don’t call me immigrant
I am the New American 
living in New America
as a New American
I am not your invader
not an animal
nor criminal
I am a just person
just living
in a New America

Strong and proud
able to withstand 
the distance I have traveled
the distance from my family 
the distance between us
the distance of our dialects
the distance in our churches
the distance in our homes
the distance between my ancestors
and my grandchildren
the distance from the streets
to the dorm rooms
the distance from the field
to the corner office suite

Don’t call me immigrant
I am the New American 
dreaming of New America
as a New American
I am not your invader
not an animal
nor criminal
I am a just person
just dreaming 
of a New America

Old America
don’t be afraid
we are all America
North America
Central America
South America
We are all Americans
We all strive in Americas
We all survive in Americas
We all live in Americas
They are all the same America

We all dream of a greater America
I want you to be paid a living wage
live in affordable housing
without college debt
or medical debt
or credit card debt
or national debt
I want no more racism
I am speaking of a New America
I am part of New America
whether you like it or not
so join me, please