Select 2 poets from the three… How do the poems of your poets work to frustrate the expectation? that literature born amid social and economic crisis by natu


Select 2 poets from the three…

How do the poems of your poets work to “frustrate the expectation” that “literature born amid social and economic crisis by nature must be didactic and polemical, obsessed with simplistic affirmations of identity and written in a raw idiom unconcerned with nuance?” How do they do this in different yet similar ways?

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The grass on my screen—yours actually; grass twice removed, from me. Grass I’ve never seen or heard before. If I could step on it, I could step under a jacarandá, the one with the accent mark on the last syllable, the one whose identity a children’s song misconstrues and gives light blue flowers. Violet above my head in a mane, violet all over September as the start of spring. Winds and time will bring the focus to the ground and the word scattered. The focus on a hemisphere away. Carried by birds that tell us a story about migration: leaving and coming back to away

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I remember people’s hands. Details. Gestures. Textures. I don’t make a point of it; more of a comma, separate but connected. My grandfather’s hands rested on his knees, as if holding the world steady. Just like the picture of his own father in the only photo we had of him. My grandmother’s hands were the softest. Spotted, bony, and raised veins telling a story I’m still trying to piece together. She believed in a direct connection between her hands and her heart. I took this into account when what was left of communication was caressing. That professor in grad school whose hands were always in the air, speaking with him. The way the thumb curved so rectilinear. A wonder. The psoriasis on some fingers, sometimes, indicating a flare. Yes, all these hands come in bursts. Like my sister’s small hands in gloves catching a falling star. Or my own, born without nails. In their place a raw red. Vulnerability.

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Ice is slippery and gravity

takes us from vertical and moving

to falling, horizontal, and still.

When back up, I remember to breathe

my way back home, carrying

bones and muscles that ask for

attention. My pace is slower but still going

until hours later I know

there’s something

I forgot. Cry to mark an ending.

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To delight as in bringing pleasure to or enjoying pleasure. But isn’t de a prefix that takes away?

You get rid of something to call it back into presence in its absence. Now I get it better, so much

light can’t really bring pleasure without some darkness. The way the sun is too much without the

generosity of a tree and its shade. Things are complicated: Is it the tree that delights? Is it the sun?

Is it how they create a possibility together? When I delight, am I bringing the edge to joy or am

I destroying the endeavor? Impossible to tell. Like how a verb in English refuses to say if the action

is done to oneself or to others. It’s a major difference: who am I delighting? A reflexive verb would

take care of this question. The act of reflecting as a way to make things visible.





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I took up knitting because all along, while I try, it seems as though I’m doing it wrong. I probably am. There is a piece always dangling in the middle. It’s growing. And it goes from one needle to the other. Like a spiral, the same but not. The repetition of passing from one to the other and back and forward and insert, loop around, insert, drop. The risk of letting go of a stitch. Pull tight to compensate on the other side. Feel how I hold more and more in my hands, how I release. It’s in the maybe between right and wrong, between try again or keep going—amidst all that, I don’t care. It is and I am.





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There are afternoons that come before lunch

and never get to the point when the sun

colors most beautiful. The link

from moment to instance flows in the

creek—the one that might dry out each summer,

the one that remembers a possibility, the one

that is really two. I know exactly where

I am when I see the veins

through my skin. This is how I work.

Like fruit that is never ripe enough

until it’s too late, until it’s tomorrow

turned into delicious.








Please forgive the disrespect,

as our faces are never clean enough

for your viewing

nor can our bodies

escape your blinking.

The appreciation for the copiousness

of your coo, that consistent

traveling trill is your manifest

mastery in language through sound.

One of our many wishes as we are

but human unable to fly among you,

so you walk by us with bobbing neck

teaching a working tongue.

In what language are you speaking this time

prone en la esquina de un roca

from all over the world

statuesque in feather

bird in bird’s importance

chiseled into a forever.

For every echo between your beak

there is

an uninterpreted alphabet,

a way to read

the answers we continue searching

in the sands of your feet—

¿De dónde vienes?

¿Quién es tu creador?


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What is it to not work the fields like my people

did? How they gathered the decapitation of plants

into bushels with malicious scythes. Upon dipping

my head in a world of hay I could discover

the sun, appreciation in the artform of nourishment.

My working hands would evolve from rakes

to spoons. I would dine on four courses of picked

fruit and baked bread, know the real taste of

a simple pear and the real estate of producing

and consuming. Mostly, I envy the man who lies

exhausted under a tree waiting for his day to be

over, for he doesn’t know his own greatness like

Papi didn’t know his greatness packing linen in

a dimly lit factory. To feed on the wheats of labor

is to know something I once did in another life

time. To have eaten where I worked, laughed,

and slept is life in browned skin that attracts my

spirit’s asylum despite these softened palms. So

what am I to do when I pass a bale of dried grass

and I know I am but a hayneedle among the fodder?


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I’m every youth that pummels your campo’s wise guy,

calling each jab a gift to place bets and riff on the dimes

of every bird beneath me. My legacy consists of fists

clenched tight, to wallop and maim, to ball up the

shamelessness boiled into a twisted spine. Boxing,

a sacrificial sport by design, breath and wind conceived

in the sancocho brine of a Trinidad, Rosario, Camacho, Cotto,

Ortiz, Olivera, Rivera, Montañez, Torres, Vasquez, Gomez,

and you. Every one of my swings is a comida del pobre

story to swallow in this fighting game where any kid

in a high school bathroom can flap his wings, make a scene,

and throw hands against another like the generations of bodies

before him. In the cockpits of backyards, clubs, or back alleys

of clubs, they’re here, with their opponent against the ropes.

Morphed into urinal or dumpster, clobbering and swinging

until one hears that inner viejo say, hit ’em with the bolo and then,

it cuts quick like sugarcane. Through the art of a fist-to-chin

connection, I demonstrate how human can make human blood

trickle down slow, gushing aloe. Each time, swollen appendages

make mountains of blueprints with spit and bone skin graphed

on another man’s fists to be worn as a flag. In these moments,

I begin to question where those hands have been but who am I

to wait for sacks of daggers to speak a double-edged legacy

when every bob and weave comes with the wind of a whisper.


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When hurricanes

start from a kick of dust

what does that make us

if not a God for releasing

breath escaped from our mouths

untraceable above 30 degrees

momentarily capable

of sinking whole cities


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Make her spin with your

scratches. Continue

to hit congas at the front of

the entrance at El Coquí.

Say nightshade in her hands,

say she can provide me no aid.

In Jersey, Nueva York, Puerto

Rico— this dancer floods cities

in the threnody of her hips.

Her movements in circles

on hands and knees, men

growing and toppling

like banana trees. We dare

be caught in her eye.

To be hostage to her Juracán

sweeping fear in every man’s heart.

Let her continue to cut the air

of this dancefloor with her hips

in a whirlwind of movements

that will leave this place ravaged.




Let me knit lines

like a blanket,

sew pages

for a book, boil

caldo long enough

to soothe the chest.

On second thought,

let me clear a shelf

for an altar built

of brown bags

carrying islands.

Eyes ask,

Can you believe it?

because they want

to believe.

“I’m making

the same damn face,”

you say as if it’s wrong

to be a red thread

crossing the Pacific.


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By night, the ZZ plant dreams

of embraces & midnight kisses.

By day, its leaves plant

open palms to a window.

Turn around, young ZZ. See

the one gazing upon you,

capturing green in photos.

The photographer loves what’s outside

& in. A houseplant here, a lime tree

there. The lime tree snags

those who dare pass too close

with its thorns even as it imagines

what it means to be admired.

New fruit clings to branches.

The tree, the photographer,

& the plant wonder, What’s next?


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.  :  .  :  .  :  Sunshine & glass wash a breakfast table magnificent  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .


:  .  :  like your very own Sagrada Familia.  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :


.  :  .  :  .      It’s no surprise you honor mornings as sacred.   .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .


:  .  :        .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  : I’ve witnessed your attendance,             .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .


:  .   :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  how you listen to trees & teens with equal reverence.  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .


.  :  .  May you always find awe in each day’s light & shadow.  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .  :  .


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If the farthest I travel from you

is the closest I come to nature,

then distance is a blessing,

time a balloon, love a wetland.

I admire a lizard scurrying into

brush, listen for mourning doves

asking, Who? I’m reminded of you

dancing in red polka dots against

the rain. How red-winged teachers

fought brackish conditions together

calling, NOW! And the children

race up the hill, as children do.


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You, my friend, are cosmic

earth, stars, & onions.

The Empress’s tree blooming

pink foliage, & you glow.

I could be happy as a daisy

nestled in your chestnut hair,

but the universe decided

otherwise, gifted us a home

for the summers, called us rich.

This is my prayer of thanks.


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*** ** ***



What gives

comfort to

the jagged



basking in

literary goodness.”

I wish you

dusty books,

slick succulents

kissed by rain.

Strange days

short circuit



but remember

the arches of

Rome. They stand

after the fall.


& strength

at your sides.


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