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Madre de Bomba

October ends, and here is the last installment of our October series by acclaimed poet and performance artist Magdalena Gómez, reprinted with her permission, and thanks to Red Sugarcane Press, from her 2014 book of poetry Shameless Woman.  Sharing her poetry this month has been part of an ongoing effort to honor the people of Puerto Rico. You can see previous entries here, 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.”

if I had an abuela
she would have fangs
x-ray vision for men
who make false promises
and a special tea
to make them true
to their word
refilling their cup
until she is satisfied

if I had an abuela
she would carve
dragon heads
into her rocking chair
that come alive
when she is angry
sending fire into the places
where she wants it
away from where she doesn’t

my abuela would dance naked
at the Hunts Point Market
in front of the cherries
that would spill their juice
at the sight of her;
no one would dare
call the cops or laugh
I assure you
someone would carry
her basket of yautía
up the six flights
to her apartment,
thick skinned robots multiplying
in her boiling pots
of Borikua kitchen generosity

my abuela would keep a machete
by the door
a rosary in the pocket
of her bata
muggers would
drop dead from a look
and just in case that didn’t work
there would always be
a live moustrap
in the pocket
of her pocketbook

my abuela
would have
mule legs
kicking wide open
the smarmy face
of injustice

my abuela
would not be polite
if there is too much salt
in the bacalao
and leave the table
if there is not enough

my abuela
would love Motown
as much as Loíza
swing from the
branches between Borikén y Cuba
tell you about Blackness
as you stretch, iron, bleach
your hair into submission
offering you the cigar
of intelligence
give you another chance
but not too many
fools belong to worms
she would say
and sink her fangs
deep into your heart
until there is room
for light and music
to enter

¡Ay! ¡Si! Penetrar

until you are satisfied

Abuela would be the Mother
of all Bomba
history’s clean ocean in which
I would happily drown.

—Magdalena Gómez, ©2014

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 ReviewUpstreet journalL.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: Day of the Dead Skull, Huichol tribe beaded artwork

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