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How I Got Religión

“Blue Dancer (Yemaya)_Cuba 060” by James Emery. Licensing below.
Honeysuckle brings you a new poem in the series from acclaimed poet and performance artist Magdalena Gomez, part of an ongoing effort to honor the people of Puerto Rico. You can see previous installments here and here. (The poet urges anyone wishing to help Puerto Ricans who are rebuilding and relocating to consider donating to the Boston Foundation’s “Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico/Massachusetts Unido por Puerto Rico.”

Orishas mentioned.
Coffee gets sipped.
Hair twirlers
Beard strokers
don’t want to know
what they don’t know.
Change the subject
when it rises with an accent
or names that sound like Blackness.

I practice no religión.
Sunday is for ribs
with arroz con gandules.
Saturday for laundry,
sex toy shopping and train wreck movies.
Fridays for giving thanks
that I don’t work nine to five.

I tithe on street corners
at stop lights
in parking lots
to people
the government used
and forgot
like veterans and first time homebuyers.

Huh? Wha?
Not the same.
San-teh-ree-ah, coño.
More coffee.
Something about chickens.
Wild dancing.
Goats and flying tits. Right?
No. Not right.
Yes. Really. No flying tits.

Forced assimilation.
Black faces behind white saints.
Religious persecution.
Mumbo jumbo can’t be persecuted.
Aggayú smolders.
Keeps watch.

More coffee.
Heat me up.
That’s too much.
Just a splash.
Eyes roll.
Lips twist.
Obatalá grieves
the death of manners.

Check split ends and e-mails.
Even the pies look vintage.
So cute.
Old people.
More coffee.
Just half.
Fill it up.

Parkinson’s and well past retirement.
Feels the earth move.
Splatters on a lap or two.
Wild dancing.
Tits flying.
Something about chickens.

Coffee, the only blackness
they know.

A Tuesday for tithing
one hundred percent!
No reason to apologize.
You are a sign.
A wonder.
Yours is an act of God.
Obatalá in an apron.
Yemayá drenches her mop.

Vegans in leather boots
file a complaint.
Changó. Night Manager.
They should come back
and speak with Oyá.
Third shift is in charge.
Good luck.
No, forget that.
Too superstitious, right?
Elegguá points to the exit
with a chicken bone.
The smell of bacon fat clings
to ironic sweaters.
Ogún grins.
Burgers flip themselves.

Subway car bulges.
Burps. Farts. Snores.
Operatic revenge
of the working class.
Standing ovations.
All ways.

Oshún gets me a seat.
Changó smokes cigars.
Elegguá plays kazoo
all the way to Harlem.
Oyá laughs herself to tears.
Sudden gardens germinate.
Rompe Saraguey.

There is a God.
They are everywhere.

—Magdalena Gómez  ©2017

Bronx-born Magdalena Gómez is a performance poet, playwright, keynote speaker and teaching artist and was an original vanguard member of the Nuyorican Literary Movement. She has been widely published including: The Massachusetts Review; Upstreet journal; L.A. Times, and many other outlets. Her work is included in college and university syllabi throughout the U.S. and her archives are housed at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut at Storrs.

Photo: “Blue Dancer (Yemaya)_Cuba 060” by James Emery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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