I was 17 years old, fresh out of high school and headed to Barnard College.
Richie was a very unimportant man who owned multiple bodegas throughout New York City.
He called me stupid once.
This poem was my response to him.
My mother grew up in those projects over there,
my father in a broken family and foster homes.
My grandparents no spicky di English,
or at least not very well,
and me, I’m an American,
as Puerto Rican as a jar of caviar,
but I won’t let you say it.
You want me to be ghetto, to shout
insults the way you slam them against me,
but I do not consent to your power.
These streets don’t own me.
Pretend you’re not the childish one
playing with three cars and two cell phones--
one for business, one for sex, you said.
So stuck on capitalism, you dropped your son out
to work fifteen hours daily at your corner store
And now that he wants his GED, you fire him.
To you, what is intelligence
Besides the heirloom of the white child?
Nice. You’re so talented
at ignoring your wives waiting, waiting
nightly, as on nails, for your return.
What is faith to you
But the reservation of your place in Paradise?
Busy bribing girls with modeling
jobs, then selling them for sex,
you think pimp is a master title!
What is imagination to you
But a quirk of childhood?--
Nothing, like you are
nothing but the shadow
of a serpent
cheating to conquer
The American Dream.
Copyright 2013 Xiomara Andrea Maldonado