Mourning for Bushwick

Mourning for Bushwick

I mourn for the ghetto.

A White Castle next to

an incongruous condo.

 

I weep for rickety fences and rusted gates.

When the L train was yellow and grey.

Before they raised the rents.

Off the M, when there was salsa at Borinquen.

 

Oh, way back when

we occupied steps,

claimed a corner, taken a block.

Skies with pendulous banderas

over the May rising flocks.

 

Dominican bodegas.

They called me rubia,

before baristas and yoga gyms

landed on Troutman.

 

Before history got wiped.

They call it gentrification.

I call it genocide.

 

An invasion, a regression, an infection

of organic produce.

It once was wild, and brimming with pride.

Oh, Bushwick, I miss you.

 

The hermanos, the primos, the chachos, the homegirls.

Knickerbocker has gone silent.

It’s the worst deaf I’ve ever been.

The worse death ever experienced.

Where my people at?

 

Oh, it burns so bad – it hurts.

When my home feels like an alternate universe.

I feel like a refugee, a survivor, a remnant.

Eventually an artifact.

 

Slabs of fresh paint while tackling lower crime rates.

I’m grieving for this place, for milk crates and domino games.

I sob for the mom and pop shops.

This place has changed too much and too fast.

 

Something’s breaking in my heart,

A phantasmagoria

of bubble tea spots, vintage store fronts and health food stores.

Now until forever, for Bushwick, I’ll mourn.

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 4/30/2015

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Been wrestling with these feelings and this poem for the last week or so. The neighborhood where I grew up has changed so much while I’ve been away – it feels strange. It doesn’t feel like home anymore. It feels like I’ve been gone too long, and now it’s too late. It feels like I took for granted something I’ll never have again. Sad part of growing up I guess.

 

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Child’s Fairy Tale

When I was a child, I saw with blinded eyes.

White sheets by my side down my living room aisle.

Human porcelain came to life and lip-gloss gave me years.

Plastic plugs clipped on my ears, a lollipop took away tears.

Pairs of socks stuffed into my shirt, toes sink into giant shoes.

Little pink frills upon my skirt and a piece of rubber to chew.

Pink cotton fluffs propped up on sticks, games that I never lose.

Magic tricks and vanilla splotched cheeks,

No sickness a mother couldn’t soothe.

 

Sunflower fields and golden wings around my head.

Bare feet pitter-pattering, when I believed everything said.

When a penny was a lot and money had colors.

Boy was the world nice then!

Tucked into bed with a goodnight kiss,

to awaken to a reality without mend.

 

Empty spaces during dark phases,

the world just cries and wails.

No white horses, just fifty percent divorces,

a world full of broken fairy tales.

Ripped pages and dried ink, the fantasy is now the past.

Tears at the brink from this reality, breaking the heart like glass.

Dying trees, unknown disease, and an education that always fails.

So next time you see a little girl with wings, underneath her golden veil.

Just keep passing by; it’d best be wise, to not say a single word.

Just hope she doesn’t open her eyes,

peaceful and undisturbed.

 

For being a child is a luxury,

she deserves the sugarcoated lies.

At least for a while, at least for some time,

Let the poor girl taste the sweets.

Because as she lives and the pages all end,

that’s all it’ll ever be.

A sweetness with a bad after taste.

Just a nice sugar coated dream.

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 4/30/2006, edited 4/30/2015

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 

Wow, I wrote this almost an entire decade ago! I found it and realized I had written it the same day as today, except it was 2006. I thought it was meant to be published here today. This was originally inspired by a quote from the bible and my dark afterthoughts at the time. I was purposely aiming for that nursery rhyme feel.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, felt like a child, reasoned like a child: when I became a man, I put from me childish ways

1 Corinthians 13:11

The D Uptown

The D Uptown

I hear it in layers.

Like a wind –

an exhale, unvarying and steady.

 

Sinking into potholes.

Toothy tireless rims.

 

Grinding, thunder, whinnying, skidding.

 

A cacophony of keys, hollow pots banging,

ringing, scraping, hinging, rattling,

an elephant screeching,

whistling amidst cicadas

and marbles being swirled ’round and ’round a metal tin.

 

Shrill and sharp.

A largo tempo.

And a distant memory of amusement park bells.

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 4/21/2015

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 

Have you ever stopped to close your eyes and really listen to a train? I always thought that trains sometimes sound alive, like metal breathing organisms. I wanted to see what I could pluck out from the white noise while on my morning commute, and make sense of it piece by piece. It was an interesting exercise, especially for someone who is hard of hearing.

I like this idea – maybe I’ll revisit this poem later.