what becomes of children who survive us?

indigo rosebuds or sunflowers risen of landfills

voices made of tire swings and milk crates

stick figures in sand drawn by fallen twigs

who looks history in the eye, grins

imagines worlds away within

the power to better

love above law

risk above comfort

for the lost and departed

wandering in memories unspoken

who will unruin this generation

their right to bloom brilliant,

stumble or fall

enchanted by tomorrows

here’s to the kids who live in Liberty City

bounce house and jumping rope

where no bullet lives to tell a fairytale

for the kids whose toes dip on shores

songs made of sandcastles and broken glass

rinsed by rushing water

return home to a land that welcomes another way

where no child is a refugee

here’s to the kids who live to see a world without walls

to the kids who cross-

examine borders, time zones, and language

who dab presidents out of rooms

and judges out of courthouses

a vote with values

music with no commercials

for the preservation of rivers, parks, and birds

to the kids who live

praise wind, light, and rain

here’s to the words they speak

trembling of blameless rage

old spirits thundering on tongues

here’s to holding hands with fortunetellers

to the kids who read palms

a gift with no return address

a world without begging fingers

to the kids who live in food desert boroughs

jubilant with full bellies and crops of care

thirst quenched from free fountains

here’s to the kids who live in tears turned from laughter

to serious play

may they never know caskets

before grayed hair and wrinkled skin

like crinkled poems in a old lover’s hold

here’s to the ones who live in photo albums

images teased of dreams

bless the child who remembers

who questions

and answers with courage

or the kids who live to bury their elders

bare a new story made possible

a test, a struggle, a journey that reveals the heart

here’s to the kids who live

who live and dare us

stand a side

may they embarrass us

show us who we are

here’s to the kids who live in us and never leave

resting in the dimples of a mirror

stretching through a glance

how many kids must die for us to live?

here’s to the kids who live in us

to the kids who live and demand

we act

in the doing

here and now

awestruck and unafraid

vermilion wax seeps soft
down a braided back of wick
the mischievous flame swallows
small devils rendered helpless
shadows tremor the parquet
how we rid a room of virulence
tug a cork from deep copper wine
and pour toward the mestizo priest hospitality defies sin, a spineless bruised banana lay near
the lanterns gutter
we marooned in the projects
hid in the holy hood of our crown
douse our bodies in albahaca water blessed by sandhog saints
abre el camino
as hellish hipsters sip on Brooklyn brew we stopped and frisked spirits haunt these streets
handcuffed with bicycles
while they litter their laughs
maraca our wrists at city hall
to thunder the gods from their tenement altars
venture to gentrify our heaven
and wage a war with a witch

Get off at Cleveland Street.

You will discover a neighborhood of noise

and the music will make your hips laugh

the concrete is a pasture of broken nerves

more importantly, head towards the house whose shrouded shoulders

shiver under the ragged shawl of an amusing sky

this is 61 Ashford Street

an old woman called my grandmother

spends most summers on the front porch

if you visit when I am a little girl,

you will see me sitting next to her

in a beach chair

agitated by the humid of spirits and smoke.

She blows ghosts from her lips 

fashioning cigarettes between her fingers like magic wands.

Her arms ripple like the branches of willow trees 

and her hands are ancient

I have watched them break the necks of chickens 

how the blood drips from her wrists like syrup

savoring the stick and moist before falling.

She is a conjured woman 

and Cuba

is stubborn for her tongue

when she came here,

to this house of magic

and galaxies 

I wonder if she ever longed for her country

If a Santera 

ever misses her God.