I fly in to see for myself

below, blue tarps over the homes of my nation

like those silver blankets that cover the souls

of Mayan and Arawak children locked inside cages

on the US mainland I left behind


arriving home, I enter a mass of confusion

plantain crops walloped in their places of birth

five-foot tall grass rebelliously advancing to heaven

my mother’s lemon tree on her last leg

hunched over, barely breathing


I witness it for myself

splintered wooden electrical poles

held up by a neighbor’s twine

trees arrowed through one another

now growing sideways, surviving


not the palm trees though

the palm trees chose victory or death

no in-between half-hearted living

some growing new hair

others simply guillotined

by Maria’s detonation


I walk into the new growth of forest

detect the low lamenting sounds of the injured there

witness the anger etched into the undulating

mountains surrounding me in the distance


I see the US cavalry arrived just in time

Cortez and Columbus repackaged

into a 21st Century nightmare

armies in metallic flying machines

using talking devices, exchanging messages

in a foreign language through invisible airways


I see the cavalry arrived to help

themselves to the casinos they built

to hurl paper towels at the local mortician

to seize their opportunity to maximize

on the extinction of the natives

keeping them in drawn-out darkness

with no power to run hospitals

no shelter, with no water


I cross the land

from West to East, South to North

to see the revelers and the ruined for myself

to lend an ear to survivors and to the dead

see shuttered schools for miles along the route,

I run out of fingers

on which to count them all


part of the plan to ruin us

a small voice reminds me


I walk along the turquoise shore

lined of amputated homes

crumbled fences

collapsed doorways into the sea

inside, bits and pieces of families remain

their vestiges now

across the Atlantic at the opposite end


back in Ponce, I sit in my mother’s rocking chair

watch my neighbor’s hummingbirds

who’ve arrived to visit her ruby coral bells

I think of my father’s strength

in his humility, he walked in silence

built a house to withstand

a cyclonic catastrophe


I’ve seen for myself

the natives are

the majesty of this world

together they’ve cleared the paths

sawing, hewing through mammoth

barriers of deceit and loathing


retrieved their own water

traversing the inundation

of Washington’s elite

that vowed to drown them


they went about their lives

by the light of a candle

or an old wooden light pole

they stitched back together

with all the love on Earth


maneuvering through a world of cadavers

inside Maria’s eye

amid the tantrums of the privileged

a nation held its ground

now, raises its foundation

of ancestral eminence anew