- Folio, Poetry, Reading, Writing

Two Poems, by Bonafide Rojas



i am a body filled with other people’s memories

i am carrying jesus
saint jude & a rosary from
someone else’s prayer

i am filled with music
my mouth has a wind chime in it
I have salsa tapes & cd’s
crushed into my palms
my legs have the echoes of children

i have so many photos
underneath my eyelids, all of me
from the ocean-damaged ones
to the mall-framed ones

i am a little boy & an older woman
both of us standing still in time
waiting for seawater-soaked cameras
to capture & save the moment for us

i have a quatro in my chest
split in half, detuned & damaged
no strings holding me together
& my back has a painting of la perla
once owned by albizu campos

i am every name & every word
dressed in red, from a to zeta

there is water spouting from every gash

i am still waiting for help
my stomach is full of FEMA food
which is high in sugar
which fights my diabetes medication
which i can only take with food
to fight my sugar levels

i should be grateful for eating
but i’ve been fighting with my body
for so long, i am tired

i am filled
with toy soldiers
& baseball caps

i’m not sure i own this body anymore
i’ve been a grand prize
a first-place medal
a championship trophy
& a footnote in
another country’s encyclopedia

pero, i am seventy-eight pueblos-strong
from Aibonito to Yauco
from New York City & Chicago

i am hoping someone can see
my s.o.s. written on the floor
from above before the rain washes it away again
my neighbors help, cook me meals
fix the roads & rebuild my infrastructure

things politicians should’ve done
they should’ve had a plan of action
instead they’re leaving supplies
in containers to rot while they tour
the states for televised face-time

i am this beautiful body
where 4,645 pieces of me have died

i am always in the middle of this hurricane
with parts of me committing suicide
because apathy is a tidal wave
& my body has taken everything
all the coverage, the propaganda, the inquiries
the studies, the speeches, the studies
the inquiries & the propaganda

i have been filled with
my people’s memories
my people’s prayers
& my people’s hope

& i’m standing here
wrapped in a blue tarp.


The Arrival

when we arrived
it felt like a hurricane
a carnival, the cheer after
a goal is scored, echoes
in the chamber of a skull
all sounding victorious
joy is a victory dance
& today we won

living is a metaphor for winning
& before every dance
we are silent a moment
for those who have passed
or been taken from us too soon
by hand, by tool, by weapon
by force, by power
so we dance for them
we dance for us
the past, present & future
a whirling of possibility
a windmill of exaggerated calculations
a floss of celebrations
we are watched
with eyes wide open
while ours are closed
we feel like an executed dream
a materialized prayer
a conjured wish actualized in the middle
of the night but we understand failure
because we have failed before
but today we didn’t
we expel joy from our skin
smelling like a saturday night
& we’re waiting on line to get into
the club & we just got let in & we didn’t pay
& they’re playing our favorite song
so tonight
we dance like no one’s watching
or the whole world is because
we’re so fucking fly.


Note: These poems are part of Big Other’s Puerto Rican Writer’s Folio: A Hauntology

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Bonafide Rojas is the author of Pelo Bueno: A Day in the Life of a Nuyorican Poet, When the City Sleeps, Renovatio, and Notes on the Return to the Island. His writing also appears in Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social & Political Black Literature & Art, and elsewhere.

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