BEAUTY IN THE GHETTO

BEAUTY IN THE GHETTO
Who said nothing good comes from the ghetto.
There is loyalty in the ghetto,
There is love amongst prostitutes in the ghetto.
The birthing of my inequality
was a given birthright amongst
brick tenements and welfare checks
and corner pharmaceuticals
by the violent gangstas that protect like family.
I found my 1st kiss on the lips of my molester.
The tienda specialized in
a fine cuisine of penny candies and old bread.
My stoop was the meeting spot.
Set up with a corporate appeal with
6 packs or Miller and loose joints.
My drugs were your drugs.
Mommy getting ready to make sure
the rent got paid this month.
Bright red “Come fuck me” lipstick
meant we were going to eat well tonight.
Dark Burgundy was put on
to leave traces of color on meaty shafts
that promised euphoria in sealed thumb size rice paper bags.
Who said there is no perfection in the ghetto.
Where I learned to defend myself
with razor in mouth
while inhaling on Newports.
Backyards piled high with vomited insides of buildings
once occupied by the living.
Residing now with zombies strung on hypodermic needles
filled with regurgitated hemoglobin.
Who told you ghetto wasn’t family.
where when you signed the lease
you knew it came with
Jose the neighborhood alcoholic,
Pito the one that sold you everything at half price.
It came with Linda & Mari
the 2 unmarried sisters with
the 6 children that had enough to
always be high
always be drunk
always be available.
residing alongside the Lalo’s & Tuti’s & Papo’s & Tati’s.
becoming family with the Rivera’s, Santiago’s, Vasquez’s and Rodriguez’s
Where Spanish was taught 1st,
survival 2nd
and English 3rd.
you went to church on Sunday’s
but not to be forgiven but to have an hour of peace.
Whispering prayers of needing and wanting on each bead of your Rosary.
Welcome to the ghetto
where there was no such thing as Dominican or Puerto Rican or Black,
everyone was poverty, suffering and hope.
Where everyone had enough to hide
but never enough to give.
Where bricks of cheese and powered milk
was the win of the lottery.
Welcome to the ghetto because this ghetto is in me

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