Micropoems Para Mi Gente, Sent with Love from a Boricua in the Diaspora

I’ve had some words and phrases floating about in my mind for weeks now, but I don’t consider myself a poet so I was letting them just chill out. But then, I finally took the advice I give to students every day and got brave enough to share them. I developed a series of micropoems “Para Mi Gente” for Twitter, and offer the entire piece to you here. Para Mi Gente is, of course, part of my next book project. I’m working my way through my research, but the crisis in Puerto Rico has lit a fire deep deep inside that sometimes requires creative processing. These micropoems are part of that process-ing.

mi corazón is stuck
on the 20th of September
when all went silent on #Borikén
#HurricaneMaria—a storm to remember

#boricuas on the island and in the #diaspora
we activated #PuertoRicoSeLevanta
waited #PRStrong
despite being powerless
for so long—even the coquís withheld their song

climbing mountains for minutes of time connected
to familia stateside demanding #PRReliefNow
our pleas rejected
140 characters became lifelines
family photos shared between strangers like missing person signs

4645+ souls lost to preventable deaths
and the government’s response? fake news, bad press
too much skin in the game to take action, to admit facts
What will it take to #RepealTheJonesAct

statesiders warned: “brace for exodus”
“Puerto Ricans are fleeing”
mi corazón is stuck
can’t believe what I’m seeing

I close my eyes and think, no. I feel
for the unborn and the too young
a misplaced, displaced generation
a mirror, estimates say, of the #GreatMigration
the context that frames my identity as a diaspoRican

A ritual for them, it seems
steal the resources then blame #boricuas
for failing to attain that #AmericanDream
mi corazón is stuck because we can’t seem to find
those #bootstraps #FEMA supposedly left behind

You and I displaced by the same evils taken different shapes
Enraged, my body quakes

mi corazón is stuck
beating for the too young to remember and the unborn
the sounds and smells of y/our island
At the eye, you’ll navigate a different kind of storm

displaced from land, language, and culture
When you wake, everything will be different
A destiny deformed
an island consumed by #capitalist vultures

The slow, coercive force of #assimilation will try to blind you
You’ll search for your history in books and lessons written to elide you
Y/our tongues fail to create the language to tie you
Y/our mind struggles to remember those lessons deep inside you

To the unborn and the too young to remember
As you weather the experiences to come,
may you be happy, may you be healthy
may you be #informed

They’ll say your displacement was shaped by a protagonist deemed a “natural” disaster
But the surges of #imperialism have no forecaster
Each #Promesa more destructive to our land, our people, and our history
than the wind or the rain could ever be

mi corazón is stuck in 1493
an unnatural disaster of an island forced into a #colony
Since the Spanish decimated y/our #Taíno ancestry
We’ve spent centuries tryin’ to get free

In 1898, claimed by an imperialist nation-state
disguised as a democracy
But built on the bones of our African family

#PuertoRico groomed for devastation
after #119years of exploitation,
at the hands of a “great” nation

To the unborn and the too young to remember
May you trust the discomfort inside you
And use it to see through the narratives they’ll use to conquer and divide you

#PaLante, #SeLevanta, #ConFuerza
We use these words to fight
#Borikén is our #power
and #independence is our right

Let y/our difference be a source of #pride and of #power
#Atabey is the light inside you in the darkest of hours
You are mi gente #Boricua, no matter where you reside
Know that mi corazón is stuck to yours
in the fight to #decolonize

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