Rinconcito is a special little corner in Somos en escrito for short writings: a single poem, a short story, a memoir, flash fiction, and the like.
A Letter A Mis Amigos “Patriotas” by Raymond A. Benitez
Today I take back my birth right
without fear or hesitation.
You, who believe you have as much right to deny me my heritage like conquistadores in foreign ships.
Yo soy Boricua! Aunque no lo sepas!
Yo soy Boricua! Aunque tu me niegas!
I know how it drives you insane, that my Spanish sounds like heresy.
Do you not recognize your own brother?
I am the product of our mother’s violation, the bastard son of history, the crumbs that the mainland left behind! I am the echo of our past!
And I see you. I see throughyou. You foam at the mouth, ready to spit rejection into my face.
As I speak, I see your lips curling like bows taking aim at my chest. Your tongues are pitchforks starving for blood. Your words are salt encrusted and stink of vinegar left to dry.
Your fingers slowly creep, crawl, and wrap themselves around stones. Accusing me of adultery, pharisees of my flag.
Me acusan de traición!
Me han dicho que abandone mi patria!
Por no estar sufriendo con ella! Luchando por ella!
Accuse me of poverty instead!
Accuse me of loving a family I could not provide for! As if being Puerto Rican eight thousand miles away from home was not suffering enough.
As if representing our pride and defending our honor to those who believe we have none left isn’t enough of a fight!
But I see that your eyes still speak silence and rejection.
Sin embargo, I know who I am and where I am from.
Yo soy el jíbaro triste, migrando a la cuidad de Nueva York.
I am the sleepless nights in the heartless jungles of concrete and traffic.
I am the desperation of the immigrant.
I am the weeping eyes of mothers praying for their sons.
I am all of their “Hail Mary’s” and “Padre Nuestro”.
I am the uncertainty of choice. To leave or to stay?
And pack your whole life inside a bag of luggage…
I am the isolation of our single star.
Quiet seed of the Caribbean.
It wants to scream out from beneath the earth, to be acknowledged by the world.
We are taught that injustice is our daily bread. To be thankful that we are not like other Latin countries, “republicas hambrientas”
Justice is too much to thirst for, because “no estamos listos para la soberanía.”
As if freedom is something we must learn, as if it wasn’t already seared into the very skin of our souls when we are born! As if it wasn’t already carved into our bones and written in verse within our hearts!
Tell me, do you think we felt loved when the President threw paper towels at us when there was more blood running in the island than water?
Neither did I.
I am Judas, who betrayed himself and sold his flesh for thirty pieces of silver and a loaf of bread to give to his mother.
You would have me crucified for being born into the same skin as you.
The sound of my rolling r’s is flat and deformed, my skin is a shade of American to you, but I will never be what you want me to be.
I will not confess to crimes I did not commit.
Because you cannot abandon a home,
that has never left your heart…
Y confieso con mi cantico triste,
Yo soy Boricua, aunque no lo sepas.
Yo soy Boricua, aunque tu me niegas.
Raymond A. Benitez was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico and spent his childhood growing up mostly in the United States. He moved back to the island with his mother and younger brother at 12 years old and stayed there for nine years until Hurricane Maria required him to migrate from the island to support his family in 2017. He is currently finishing a Bachelors in Journalism while serving in the United States Army with the dream of returning to Puerto Rico which he considers to be his home. This is his first time being published individually, but he was previously published in a poetic anthology titled Vuelos del Vertigo from the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao.
is a special “little corner” in Somos en escrito for short writings: a single poem, a short story, a memoir, flash fiction, and the like.
Dial M for Machismo
by Marisol Lozano
Men, Mensos, Machos, Mamones.
Los hombres tell me my shorts are too short, I’ll make the older men think bad thoughts. Los hombres tell me to cook, clean, be a woman. Can’t you see, estupida? The machistas mow the grass you lay your head on while you think. Los hombres are turning me into a consumable chick, breed as many kids as you can, in the baby mill inside your body. You fucking dog. Starve your kids, starve your hombre, bury them and roast them like winning hogs. Salivate thinking about the man who has been roasting underground with potatoes, onions, chilies. Think about the sweet basting sauce that was carefully poured over his thick light skin. Basting liquid that was slowly and carefully massaged on his body making sure it made its way down the scores on his body. Think, think, think. Think about the rub recipe that’s been in your matriarch’s lineage before your hombre was even a thing. Let your mouth water as you think about crisping his skin on the grill over coal. Watching carefully making the skin glassy and crispy for a midnight snack. Los hombres no son Buenos hombres.
Los Machos stand by the wall, one foot planted on the ground one touching the wall. Los machos say ‘en mi casa yo mando’ Code for, ‘My women. Eat my shit.’
Los hombres y los machos van a ver.
Los hombres y los machos are allowed to get angry. They yell, They kick, They stomp, They curse, They drink.
They grab you like a doll and throw you to the wall. Los machos named, Mario, Mariano, Marco, wrap their thick big hands around your neck and refuse to let you breathe. Los machos suffocate you. Finish you off on the floor kicking and dragging you around your home. Clumps of hair scattered on the floor, scratch marks on the floor trying to save yourself, broken nails, ruined face.
Grab a fistful of el macho’s hair and bring his skull to your direct vision. Slowly bring a dull knife to where his forehead and hairline meet, scrape the knife against the soft sweaty skin, and stab. Slowly, insert the dull blade into the skin making sure to hit the right spots that make him squirm. Remind el macho why you’re doing this, he needs to learn.
Go around his head forcing the blade on him making him wince, feel the same pain you do. Hum a soft tune while you dig deep into his tissue scraping, digging giggling. Pull his scalp and listen to slurping and pulling of his tissue. Listen to the cries of the demon, relish in his pain. He deserves this, he needs to learn and become broken. Do it for the failed women, who were fooled by these men.
Los hombres, los machos, y los mamones do as they please, Cheat, Lie, Steal, Laugh, And we’re supposed to be okay with it.
Marisol Lozano is a BA English student with a concentration in Literature and a minor in Film Studies at UTRGV. A Chicana from the Fronteras trying to seam her Mexican and American identities together. A daughter of a Mexican man who was never swayed by the American dream and a proud Tejana. She loves her parents, sisters, dog, and grandparents.
Rinconcito is a special “little corner” in Somos en escrito for short writings: a single poem, a short story, a memoir, flash fiction, and the like.
Did your father ever swear?
By Jenny Irizary
Come to think of it my father only ever swore in Spanish Maldito sinvergüenza some verb porquerías I could never catch what was being done to the porquerías or if it was their being-made getting done to him when I didn’t do the dishes fast or often enough (it was me he usually muttered that phrase to) stoic not angry but yes, sometimes he was angry. You asked me did he ever take me fishing? Yeah, and I was disobedient or something I don’t remember and he slapped me. No, he didn’t do it a lot just when I was being contrary. My mother? Never calm even that time I came home and she’d stayed to do laundry caught her hand in the press lever (we didn’t have tumble machines) it looked like a crushed pomegranate and sidewalk gum boiled into beet juice but she didn’t cry and my dad explained what had happened he wasn’t at work, either, which was odd only happened one other time I can think of because he drank too much and when the guy he carpooled with to the factory came by my mom peaked out the door whispered he had a hangover (she knew vernacular like that words her relatives slipped on into other verbs I could never tell which ones so she talked to officials or just anyone speaking English or I did). So that was the other time my dad didn’t go to work. I was usually the first home to take care of my younger brother no, not the one that died in my mother’s arms at the bus stop the one that got tied up in the umbilical cord wrapped up inside came out blue not breathing he’s why I always thought the Blues was a good word for music you choke out when people didn’t want you to breathe my brother didn’t speak in the same sounds assigned actions as other people but his exclamations aren’t exactly passive and he never was, either, which was why I watched him like when he climbed out the window onto the roof maybe searching for kites or just a different view when my dad showed up at the front door I was staring down at my shoes willing his eyes anywhere but up when he looked and saw my brother climbing smiling the rest of us were panicked (but my brother seemed very relaxed) took a hand off the roof reached up and our dad started to coax him down telling him not to be afraid even though he clearly wasn’t “Come back inside where it’s safe” that kind of thing he rarely spoke so soothingly to me although when I threw a baseball through the garage window and pieced the glass back together with glue he grinned a little at the notion I could put one over on him. I wasn’t a good liar and I felt guilty so I usually just confessed like when my brother and I were jumping on the bed he seemed to stay in the air longer than I could have sworn he was up when I came down feet hard on his belly sloshing like the sound those fish would have made if I had caught them instead of being a good-for-nothing like my father said (or whatever he said in Spanish like I said I don’t know Spanish didn’t teach you Spanish but life sticks dictionaries you can’t shake to your shoe and you walk around like that sometimes for a lifetime maybe just for a childhood anyway my brother and I we were young and the diagnosis was around that time I cried when I told my dad I thought I knocked the quiet voice out of him made him loud with the sounds people use to excuse the fear they already have maybe call the police (and later, they did and that’s why my parents decided if I was going to college they couldn’t take care of him so I’m kind of the reason he was institutionalized in a way because otherwise he might have gotten arrested or hurt but that place we dropped him rotting mattresses lined up smelling of semen and urine out of the movies or books or the records those kind of places didn’t keep or worse, the ones they did). And the diagnosis when they called my little brother “Retarded” then “Developmentally Delayed” then “Autistic” and always “unacceptable” this kid who loved to fly kites with me at Wrigley Field until he took a roll of receipt tape from a vendor and the guy yelled for some police and they tackled him my English almost wasn’t good enough to get him off not using language like other people is one of those inexcusable cardinal sins I guess or maybe stealing while Puerto Rican and what you kids call it non-neurotypical and running smiling bent over looking up a kite soaring overhead we’re supposed to be docile shouldn’t be able to hunch over and move that’s some trickster terror to some people that day when my brother and I almost both got booked for stealing juvenile delinquents was the one time I saw my father cry and he didn’t swear in English or Spanish nothing he could get done with words.
Jenny Irizary grew up along the Russian River in Northern California and now resides in Oakland. She holds a B.A. in Ethnic Studies and an M.A. in literature from Mills College. Her work has been published in Label Me Latina/o, Atticus Review, Sick Lit, Snapping Twig, District Lit, Communion, and other journals. Her poem, "If You Want More Proof She's Not Puerto Rican," was the winner of Green Briar Review's 2016 poetry contest.