Havana, USA

No one told me about the
Importance of taking advantage of my education
While it was still free.
Instead they just continued to talk through me
Past me,
Hoping their message would rest on the bridges of the ears
Attached to the kids whom they thought were worth it.

Constantly ignoring that my level of intellectual capacity was
Bouncing like a see-saw,
I could see what they saw in me,
And how little they saw in me
So I projected their thoughts and played them out to fruition:
I became the adolescent know-it-all who just didn’t give a

Figures of role models passed me by,
Always aiming to help the smarter
As if in an attempt to be a footnote
In their Nobel Prize speech.

When what they couldn’t see was that all those kids
Become burn outs
And those ignored start revolutions.

We learn to teach ourselves and each other
Creating a community of outcasts
That are usually downcast in society.
Moving fast as their new prodigy
Gets their childhood stripped away
As they stand on the stage in front of millions
While we stood in sandboxes getting dirt kicked in our
Hopes and dreams,

Because like an abandoned flower garden
Everyone just walked by
Thinking how great theirs is
Compared to us, just spiny cacti.
Completely oblivious that once opened, we hold liquid that will sustain life lost in the wilderness.
Completely oblivious that once opened, we can produce flowers and scents magnificent.
Completely oblivious because we’re irrelevant and unintelligent
To them
But that doesn’t mean we’re not worth it.

I am the reason why there is a shirt and shoes policy.
I am the reason why there is quiet in the library.
I am the reason why.
I am the reason.
My people are the reason,
Because there is no off button
No quiet button
On the lips of a Hispanic.

Having come from the ocean,
Dripping with happiness
Our muscles trembling with fear and excitement of the unknown
We step into local businesses trying to find aid
Trying to find work in order to get paid
In order to become American made.

Dripping water from our steps
We simply forget that over excitement is seen as a threat
To a society where everything is given
Versus ours where everything was taken
Not to be mistaken
Because we look different than those who you buy for 9.99
Off a Toys R Us shelf next to Stacey and Ken.

We invented Theresa but she’s still not enough.
Her curves are mistaken as well as her hair
But the one thing they got right is that she has a great pair a

Being human is more than mimicking a sculpted piece of plastic.
It’s more than ‘monkey see monkey do’ even though that’s what we’re taught
While the other kids are given individualized attention
We have been marked
Everything to ‘bougie’ for me
But I know those words so shouldn’t that mean something.

Oh, wait…
You’re assuming I learned them from MTV
Because I’m never independent enough for you
Even though I was raising my family since I was 11 don’t you see?

Standing up and holding the walls of my house
When they threatened to fall down
Because mama was tired
Eldest was in school
Middle was crying
And the baby
In the carrier
That I rocked with my foot
As I held the walls of the house

And did you ever think that the reason I was so tired in school,
That same tiredness you mistake for ignorance,
Is because I was trying to balance being an adult and simple multiplication
But that’s not enough of an excuse for you.

Silly adult.
Silly over privileged
Don’t tell me how. To. Run. This.


Don’t tell me I’m not mature enough
Because just for once I want to act my age
But in your mind I’ve always acted older than
Then the image of your kids.
“That kid’s going places” you think
But you STILL have the nerve to talk down to me
And by me I mean my people
I mean those who sit below the level
Of poverty of my sisters and my brothers
Of those over tired mothers
Of those who work to the bone
Only to get home
And get beaten
Because “Dinner wasn’t ready when I got here
GODDAMMIT I gave you this house what more do you want?!”



Don’t you dare
Strip me of my liberties
Claiming religious purity
Viewing us a nothing more than dirty
My family has been here for over thirty
And I see it in your eyes the moment I take off my white girl disguise
And tell you that I’m Cuban
How your respect for me wanes

Did you know my Grandmother hopped on a plane,
When she was just 16.
To come to a country
Where they spoke English instead of Spanish.
Where they give handshakes instead of
Kisses on cheeks here are the equivalent of ‘no homo bro’.

I don’t see you
Stepping out of your comfort zone
Because your little niche of American pride
Blocks the view of your own eyes.
As your words glint off the recording of that one smart kid’s Nobel Prize
That you listen to so diligently
Gripping the cushion of your seat
Leaning forward to the screen
To hear your name flutter from their lips.
As we get beat down and dismissed
Cleaning crew
Paid below minimum wage
Paid to clean your mistakes.
But I don’t see you doing that though.