Bushwick Baby

Bushwick baby

used to “Como ‘ta linda?”,

used to “yo ma” me,

when I was peligrosa

and that saggin’ slim used to wink “What’s poppin’?”

on Stockholm and Wyckoff.

 

Keys rained with box stitches and Chinese staircase lanyards

from second stories,

where stoops were sold out from Bedford to Halsey.

Before 358 Grove was whitewashed next to White Castle.

 

When I was rubia in the bodegas.

Willoughby used to “ey yo” me with a bottle of Bacardi while going limb by limb.

They rocked door knockers on Knickerbocker

and doors were knockin’ with “Dios te bendiga” damas

who called me nena and asked me to pray for knocked up primas.

 

Solo para mi gente would dale don dale down Wilson

when banderas marched on the wind.

Back when Jazzy Jazzed and S&M had a quarter zoo.

Greene was in loving memory with a Woody Cartoon.

Do you remember?

Before it caught Alzheimers and forgot it’s roots,

Bushwick used to hoot and holla.

Now Bushwick has forgotten all my monickers,

made me a stranger,

when it used to call me familia.

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez,  May 2017

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I actually wrote this one 2 months ago and was struggling with how to close the poem. Finally managed to wrap it up and found the motivation to update my poetry blog.

If you grew up in Bushwick in the 90’s/2000’s, then some of this may be familiar. When I think of my childhood, I think of all the Spanish speaking residents in the neighborhood, and the sounds of the language, the music. I think of summer bringing everyone outside to the streets, on the stoops, playing dominos, buying from the pidaqua stands and dancing. Sure, there were some dangerous sides to the neighborhood as well, but the culture was really something before gentrification swept in. I’ll never forget it…

The Past

It’s where you wander when you’re lost
because it’s deep and familiar.
The end is visible although not really an end,
but where you started.

It’s easy to try all the abandoned roads
than to leave and instead go
to the one place where the only road is forward.

It’s easy to be lost in a place where lost is the only destination.
And if you’re not careful,
you’ll never be able to escape.

– Rachel R. Vasquez,  October 2016

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Something I wrote in October and realized was still in my drafts. Tweaked and published.

Seasonal Poems

Fall Trees

The blond-ing rabble make a few flush ruddy

enough to shed hay.

Crowns burning like brand new copper pennies.

Some with flaxen weeping heads,

drumming fingers or knobby sockets.


Spring Trees

Spring is like a post-wedding afternoon.

Branches brushed with bursting party poppers,

swooning mops,

dabbed and dotted with earlobes and cotton balls,

below bellowing blossoms and star fall paddling in the breeze.

 


– Rachel R. Vasquez, October 2016

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Weather Poems

December’s confused.

Trees like bulging veins,

blighting silver skies.

Clawing angrily for blankets

on unsalted grounds,

and toothless winds.


 

Lace-less buildings

and unglazed streets!

Exposed knees,

and clip-less teeth!

Frost-less windows are causing distress!

The season’s in limbo,

and the trees undressed!


 

The mist polishes us ’till we glisten.

Until the roads mirror like diorite –

Until the white creeps up the glass –

Until we shiver into lisps,

and our cheeks florid.


 

– Rachel R. Vasquez, February 2016

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It feels like…

It feels like –

I’m in love!

I wanna dance in the kitchen,

and scream as loud as I can until I can’t breath in anymore.

Not because I’m angry, but because I need to

move.

It feels like

JUMP!

Dive!

Spin ’round and ’round in circles

until I can’t stop laughing

and I can’t see straight.

It feels like

grab all the people I love

and squeeze them all

because we’re all dying.

But no one else seems to see it

except for me.

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 1/15/2016

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I don’t even know if I should call this a poem. More like something impulsive I had to write and get out this morning. Maybe someday I’ll refine it and it’ll be pretty but, meh. It is what it is.

Old Places

For those places
no longer home.
Kept safest
in your mind’s own.

Heart aches for trodden roads.
Soul weighs with forgotten ghosts.

A hum who’s words are lost,
of curtains drawn,
and bridges crossed.

The streets recede
twisted and strange.
I know this dream
if only by name.

This Avenue’s familiar.
The gates –
The doors –
In another world similar
I’ve been before.

They beckon from pictures,
from over your shoulder.
Yet once you’ve turned,
they slip even farther.

Someplace traversed
and somewhere fond.
I can never return
once they’ve gone.

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 11/11/2015

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“If I come back, it will be a place, but it won’t be home any longer.” – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I’m learning a common pattern in my life. From old jobs to old schools, once you’ve left a place in that point of time, you can never return. Even if you do, it will never be the same. It never feels the same. You can miss what it was, wish for it to become that place again, but that place is just a place once it’s no longer home.

The Chambers

Descent into the Chambers
bring us ever closer to the day
the towers fell.
 
The stomach is lined with bone.
 
Several eyes that never pair
flit about and
watch us scatter to various orifices
to escape the bellowing labyrinth.
 
Black ribs keep us from
shrieking accordions.
 
No man dare venture into the darkness without armor.
 
The smog temporarily lifts
when innards swing us towards
a blind Canal.
 
The Canal washes us all away until Spring.
 
– Rachel R. Vasquez, 7/1/2015

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Toying with the idea that the Chambers Street station is actually alive. Was inspired by all the eye mosaics on the wall. I might expand on this more. I feel like I can make more metaphors towards monsters if I keep going. I like the suggestion of the stations after Chambers going uptown. 🙂

125th Street

125th Street.

Is this the mouth,

or the ass

of the city?

 

How did everyone decide to dig ditches?

Trenches before they were

too far to go back so

they connected the holes instead?

 

The 4 gently trembles.

Waking bleary-eyed keyboard musicians

with screeching after

falling with one foot

into a pit.

 

Happens every time.

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 5/2015

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Randomness. That’s all I have to say. Hopefully writing with more effort coming soon. 🙂

Rican Enough

Wait, wait!

My fingertips aren’t orange enough yet!

 

Hold on a sec!

I’m not done stretching my earlobes.

 

Don’t ask me to salsa.

It’s the one question I can never perform.

 

Heaven forbid!

Ave Maria!

My hips don’t orbit my feet!

Are they supposed to?

 

I left my beads at home.

What the hell am I supposed to do

now that I’m naked?

 

Naked and still burn.

Never rust just right enough.

Guess I’ll have to peel off another layer

and try again.

 

Beg the sun

to bloom my ass like it does the flowers.

 

Fire, fire, fire!

Fuego, fuego, fuego!

Am I hot enough yet?

Am I dark enough yet?

 

I haven’t checked in a while,

but I’m hoping today is the day

I’m Rican enough.

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 6/2/2015

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Wrote this on my morning commute. There’s been this constant pressure for as long as I can remember to prove my ethnicity. Was randomly thinking about it this morning and this poem was the result.

My favorite stanza is the fuego part. Also PSA, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Be proud. This is still something I’m trying to learn myself. 😉

Himrod Street

He smiles like grease.

A crater by his eye like his skin was sampled

by a teeny tiny spoon.

He hides his shame behind long bronze hair,

but is still brave enough

to hold my hand.

Knuckles like marbles – maybe rocks.

Boy was a real heart throb.

Or more like a heart attack.

No amount of Ajax could

rescue this fourteen year old girl

from cutting Spanish class to walk down Himrod

hand in hand only to get home and

not talk on the phone

with Mr. Vegas in the background.

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 6/1/2015

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No comments here. Just memories of a fourteen year old girl getting walked home by her boy. 🙂

I still feel like I can work on this more. For now, it is what it is.