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