Samuel Miranda: Poetry and Art

By SAMUEL MIRANDA

after the suffering

 

LOOKING FOR MY CITIZENSHIP

After Adál

When I am unsure of who I am
I pick up my dominos
and search out el reverendo
Pedro Pietri
so we can pray for clarity.

I find him in front of the botánica.
We slam the bones
onto a card table,
become domino table,
become seat of divination.
He fingers the double zero
y canta La Borinqueña.

“If you can’t fly, swim
to the spirit republic of Puerto Rico,”
he tells me. So I wait in line
at the Puerto Rican passport agency
listening to the click clack
of the monja, who types
my identity into a dream
I have every madrugada.

“Where are you headed?”
my friends ask.
A state of mind,
where plena always comes to my rescue
banging out the news
from el barrio, o Loisaida, o el Bronx.
All places I run to, then from, then back to again
borderless.

 

 

PERO NADA

Pero nada
lo perdí todo,
estamos bien.

This is not a war zone,
not an act of a god,
not a single moment,
but many
that started
with a rain that found the spaces
and drove itself into them
leaving nothing untouched
by its need to invade.

That started
with a wind cutting through a home
causing the woman inside to scream at it
to yell her resistance
to lay claim to what was hers.

This is suffering
and then reclaiming possibility
with a pero nada,
pero nada,
but nothing.

Lo perdí todo.
I lost it all.

Estamos bien.
But we are well.

This is not submission.
It is a statement of fact,
one that makes clear
survival.

Pero nada.
But nothing.

What we have left.

Lo perdí todo.

What we acknowledge is lost.

Estamos bien.
How we know
what matters:
            El coquí que no para de cantar.
            La plena que no deja de sonar.
            El corazón de un pueblo.
            La generosidad de una comunidad.
            La fuerza de mi gente.

How we know
that we are strength.
How we know
wind and rain,
and leaders who throw paper towels
and speak of our dead as if they
were not enough
are not allowed
to break us.
How we know that 100 by 35
is not the extent of our borders
that like the rain and wind
the children of this place
will invade, will bring what is needed
will join in the rebuilding
and will stand against
the winds of loss
that will blow through us
but will not knock us down
and can never tear away foundation.
’Cause we know
what to say when the shit goes down:
¡Pero nada,
aquí estamos!

 

self portraitSelf-Portrait with Ancestors

 

 

womanSoledad

 

Samuel Miranda is a poet, teacher and visual artist from the Bronx who has made Washington, DC home. His poetry is included in various online and print journals, and anthologies. His chapbook Departurewas published by Central Square Press in 2017. His visual work is included in university and private collections and has been exhibited in Washington, DC, New York, and Puerto Rico.

Artwork by author

Debbie WenSamuel Miranda: Poetry and Art

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