I am New York Part II

II.
I am guayaberas grown on
the grand concourse,
Slick Puerto Rican cotton,
hot as Egypt but with soul-train
I run the length of my garment with style,
symbols written in a passionate trance
and sown into an appearance of cool,
and like my hair I am powerful, I am
the arrows of my ancestors hunting
to feed on the the myths
of the sun and the moon
feeding them to their children
Spilling from the mouths
of their children
to their children

I am kinky, like my hair
as tangled and frizzy as it wants to be
With no apologies, ringlets of sabroso
Sun, sand and hot breezy nights alight
With chicken and rice

I am latin and taino not Hispanic,
I don’t come from the island of hispania
and I want my blood to mark a line
when asked about my ethnicity

Because I spilled enough of it so
that question could be asked at all

I am the murals painted at random
around the city, it is in my blood
To mark the world around me with
the colors, once given to us by the earth ,
now hidden beyond the gray and grimy concrete
and steel barricades of my
roomy prison cell that I should be grateful for

I am the voice resounding deep inside of me
born of a lineage whose indigenous existence
was at once savage and sweet -
What is the whisper of the wind if not savage,
the difference being one of speed,

at 2 miles an hour it is sweet,
at 200 miles an hour it is savage

My heritage lends me a savageness
that society want to categorize as anxiety or
Frustration and deal with in two tablets of Zoloft

I am the emotion of the city, turbulent and
rebellious and seething and brilliant and multi-ethnic
and mambo and reggae and jazz and blues and
Hip hop and spoken word,
in whatever language and—

I am the once caramel skin
that at times hides in the dead of winter,
a New York winter that pushes me
further and further into the kitchen to
Catch a blast of heat from my stove,
Cause my radiators have sung their last
Song of the evening, they will be back
On stage tomorrow for an encore,
maybe

I am hard shoes from the impossible walk
from princes to chambers
Sliding by suspicious neighbors
washing the streets with a disposable life,

dirty, soapy, streams beat down a rhythm,
a jazz blurred vision of Venice

Trains and buses and cabs and cars
but I still walk, walk, walk
through fierce and gentle rains,
my shoes become a second skin
a calloused sienna, barking at night
From the pounding day, holding

Be there, be tough, be now

I am soft glow of lullaby lights tracing
The paths of bullet pioneers blazing
A path of glory and singeing my commute

I am the walls that breathe forgeries
to lend to the fo-culture straining to hear
the masters call, or acceptance
I am the architects,
who built the center of the universe

I am fear, festering into a facade
that grew impenetrable

Resistant even to the repeated attempts at love;

I am the old man and the sea standing
Before the piers facing out to eternity dreaming
Of the Hudson, becoming the salty mist
That wet the tongue to tell my story

I am the smell of the street, hot dogs and pretzels
Oil and incense, bodies and breath who all
Reside within my mouth and eyes and hands
So that when I speak, new york are the words

I am the baggy clothes and skewered hat and
I am the broken english spoken by the broken man
with fingers tacky from piecing together a shattered life

I am at a loss for what to do next
There is a life waiting for me in the streets
Of my birth as I connect with more trains than people

I am alive with a history as diverse and
Sordid and ruptured and colorful as the streets
Counties, cities that surround me

I am full of fear and self-loathing
I am drowning in immigrants so that
the old ones don’t recognize the new ones

I am a stranger

I am courage

I am the unknown
I raised and taught me
to be everything that I was and am and will be

I am a work in progress
I appear to have it all together
I am moving on
I am


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