used to “Como ‘ta linda?”,
used to “yo ma” me,
when I was peligrosa
and a 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
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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…