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Newerican

Newerican

American

Américan

Am-é-rican

Nuyorican

Newerican

Brooklyn bard

code switchin’ orator

home of Biggie and Basquiat

scribblin’ sonnets in the womb of my mama

she birthed a riot

I don’t know how to keep quiet

my tongue tattooed with the track marks

of trailblazers spilling ink from marginalized pages

call me newerican

baptized by the word of El Reverendo

resurrected in the spirit of Laviera y Piñero

byproduct of bars, beats, breaks and de Burgos

street corner literary lateros

slinging stanzas for change in

gentrified hoods of orphaned children

pimped out by proprietors and Whole Foods

call me Newerican

next generation still dying for a cause

and acceptance

Juan

Miguel

Milagros

Olga

Manuel

becomes Amadou

becomes Sean

becomes Reynaldo

becomes Timothy

becomes

becomes

becomes

a new obituary for black and brown bodies

who all died yesterday today

and will die again tomorrow

who all died yesterday today

and will die again tomorrow

dreaming about America

waking them up and whispering

black and brown lives matter

America, where his story is bookmarked

So we take a page from our forbearers

fix our mouths in protest

a litany for survival

praise Lorde

and the gospel of Louis Reyes Rivera

the ghosts that take space

between the sharpened teeth of oral tradition

where our word is bond

for every time they demanded

we spic up!

we spic up !

we spic up!

we spoke out!

raised our fists in effigy

shouted Pa’lante!

revitalizing the infrastructure of

vanguards to hold the weight

of our  brave new  voices

Newerican, we stand tall

on the shoulders of a movement

that broke barriers in barrios from Loiza

to the lower east side

and back down these mean streets

to break bread with Baraka and

revolutionize minds

and this time it will be televised

covered on prime-time

die ins and picket signs

and Gil Scott Heron will smile

here in New York

we either move forward or get left behind

so we grind

Punto!


© Maria Rodriguez Morales. Published by permission in Centro Voices on 24 April 2015.