First in a series of elegy poems. I suppose it had to happen sometime.
This has been, continues to be, one of the most difficult tasks of my writing career so far. And my pain, compared to the pain of others who know the story here, is tiny.
Love to all who are in grief and in support.
for John Rodriguez
The Nuyorican Aesthetic, if I am to believe Miguel,
would have required a poem for burial instructions.
But we got no poem, no instructions, your ashes
in a small green can, and what little I know
about the orishas.
And of course, we said Fuck it. Let him go out on the water.
Fuck the procession, too. Here’s a river, and a bridge,
and the Bronx. Everything else is noise.
Three Dominican boys are swimming here–
illegally–like our poems, our literature, our asses even.
We stay grimey, even in death.
The fine for releasing human remains in a public waterway is one hundred dollars.
But, we weren’t trying to hear that shit.
It was always the Bronx. White folks raised millions
to dredge this river, preparing it for your arrival.
Elegua is the master of the bridge.
Oshun lives in the river.
The erratic flight of an orange butterfly.
I signify the choice with a jar of honey.
One drop on the bridge, the jar thrown over the side,
and when I said thank you to Oya, I swear to
God, John, it rained.
Like the whole fucking sky
fell on me.