papi pichón flies out of my library book and no one
hears him because he chirps at spanish-to-english
dictionary speed. all dismiss papi’s beautiful
wings a sabre, a grindstone attached to his gold
plated breasts a picture of many beers emptied
across a flag on the wingspan of a flying rat.
sin vergüenza, he fluffs its feathers and juts
its pecker at an unknown roost slurring, “Mira! Mira!
I got your stereotypical Boricua right here!”
pointing to its pigeon butt. if it had a crack
it’d be the faultline where carpetbaggers meet
the campo. the winning lotto ticket my grandmother
never scratched flutters out of the same book
and papi pichón gobbles it up. it’s been a long time
since we’ve seen real gold that is not the deceiving
yellow foil of a Publisher’s Clearing House sold dream.
it’s been longer since the puerto rican was “as smart as cuban.”
since coplas, décimas, y bombas fetishized Borinquen reinas
and creole babies. show me royalty, father pigeon,
before you go up in flames. before you are burnt
ash buried underneath more history where
Ricky Martin, JLO and others sit on your pile
of dust because you can still sing louder. fly me
to the antiquity that collected the dusts of gold
for your angels in Ponce and harvested coca
to make our heartbeats beat faster than our feet
stepping to the conga in Newark. papi pichón
wants me to follow him past Oscar López Rivera
during the puerto rican day parade. before the Bronx
burnings and commonwealth when we squawked like
coquís. before colorless. before oro. before
our sea of tierra learned to speak Spanish.
Listen to the poem
Dimitri Reyes is a Puerto-Vegan educator, writer, artist, and community organiser from Newark, New Jersey. He is the recipient of the SLICE Magazine’s 2017 Bridging the Gap Award for Emerging Poets and a finalist for the Arcturus Poetry Prize by the Chicago Review of Books. Dimitri is a candidate in the Rutgers-Newark MFA program and his poetry is published or forthcoming in Entropy, Hawai’i Review, Acentos Review, Anomaly, Kweli, and others. He is also expanding the poetry community through his YouTube channel.