Dear Pedro

87286100270500LJohn Dean interrupted my
regularly scheduled Sesame Street
when you were getting turned on to grass
i was watching Vietnam on TV
when you met Agent Orange
and he stuck to you like glue
i didn’t know i just heard
it was the word

later i got turned on to Jazz
ran away from college
searched for uncommon knowledge
didn’t know i could be Puerto Rican
dreaming in New York i never left
you never arrived at
didn’t know what was Taino
never missed My Island
didn’t know i could get a visa
from El Puerto Rican Embassy
didn’t know who was Miguel or Lois or Steve
just knew what i knew
putting words on pages too
i heard it was the place to go
a man dressed in black appeared
carrying freedom from misery in a briefcase
thinking radically under his hat

today they still argue in the capitol of capital
about the final arrangements of the funeral
for tomorrow
when they will sell back what was taken
but i know that El Puerto Rican Embassy
is at a secret location
where you can’t book a vacation
you have to bare your soles instead
get with the Manifesto seal the deal with grass
sit on your ass look at the sky
see what was is what will be was

i’ve been reading your book
looking at your picture on the cover
sitting at a table
(so dutifly holding your Selected Poetry)
writing on a blank sheet of paper
a letter for you to pick up on Mars
well honestly it’s a blank screen
with a desktop picture of a chunk of cheese
well honestly i made that part up about the cheese

you took the stage
read from your page
we laughed
i didn’t know what was your degree
in poetry that you were royalty
except like Lord Buckley
i thought everyone was a Lord or Lady
i didn’t know what was slam
Bob explained the rules
but i must not have been listening
maybe that night they were all there
Tracie Edwin Willie Paul Reg Suheir
i don’t know cuz i didn’t know any of them
the crowd booed me off the stage
before i got to the end of the page
but the man in black who made everyone laugh
said to me i dig your originality
i nodded and left cuz i had to pay the babysitter
you know this story but maybe you forgot

down here in Greenville i have a family
i water my vegetables with words
and serve my poetry on dinner plates
i walked into a coffee shop a little while ago
and there was a young man at the register
a sticker on his laptop said
City Lights
i said
that’s far away from here
he told me
it was the name of his church not far away
i told him
about a famous bookstore he never heard of
he told me
he was studying to be a religious musician
i asked him
had he ever heard of Pharaoh and Leon
and The Creator Has a Master Plan
he stared
at a 52 year old lady with wild hair
he didn’t know
i drank coffee and checked e-mails
and there was a message from Mars
that your poetry that i searched for
and found out that your poetry is hard to find
and i was looking for those telephone poems
at the time
cuz i had heard that you had a book party
but i didn’t get there yet
the message from Mars said that City Lights Books
was publishing your poetry and Lord Buckley
who i listened to on an LP when i left home young
who inspired me ten years later
to tell that Cinderella story at Nuyorican
that was not welcome by anyone but Pedro
who i didn’t know who you was

messages from Mars don’t come often
i don’t know what it means
but it means something
these were no ordinary co-incidents
and there’s more to the stories
you have appeared again
that’s the way it was too

you were the first only person on line
at the table that was holding up
my first limited limited edition book
off the restaurant floor
you asked me to sign it
i don’t know what it means
but it means something
in this same year that City Lights
has published your Selected Poetry
and Hiparama of the Classics
is also the print on demanding
of the limited, limited second edition
of my first book that you took the first copy
the Pedro Pietri Bought My First Book Prize
but i have to confess how to utilize i wasn’t wise
you sat for a little while at a little table
that held your drink steadily
and then you disappeared
like an angel i didn’t know was an angel
i thought you probably drank too much

when we saw each other early in the mornings
walking our daughters to the same school
hungover maybe you was
me out of order
was rats in my kitchen
compromising positions personal conditions
when we smiled and waved from across the street
while we held their hands
and led them away a little more each day
i have to confess that i forget
when i try to piece together the order of things
which came first what happened next
you told me you taught my book in your class
and i went to your new years eve party
up there in that tower just for people like you
who write unforgettable obituary
that i couldn’t remember when you
wished me happy b’day inside the cover
yesterday when i handed it to my oldest son
to bring to his poetry class
but even though i won
the Pedro Pietri Bought My First Book Prize
i still got evicted before that boy could talk or walk
i left New York that never leaves me
after you never arrived
i have to confess i don’t remember even
where was the poetry reading before leaving
that got started after it ended
when you opened the pages of a telephone book

you know this story but maybe you forgot
i have to pause here to drink some rum
in your honor
well honestly it’s not rum it’s honey whiskey
but tonight it tastes like rum on Mars
i have to say that you were surrounded
by poets who listened and laughed and cried
there were no dry eyes
El Reverend sermonized
i could never forget

i heard
you had a telephone book party
i heard
Agent Orange told a dirty joke
left his tab on your table
it was the word

now it’s later than later
i’ve gotten to the so True short story at the end
which wasn’t the end of your Selected Poetry
i laugh and cry and nod my head
i’m looking at your face that remains unchanged
on your book resting on my table
i hear your voice clear as a bell
tell it like it is like it was like it’s always
here is not New York
Dizzy was born in South Carolina
but he didn’t give it a song
at all times i keep my visa with no expiration
from El Puerto Rican Embassy
anyway anywhere is everywhere
asses of the masses grow large on sugary lies
we have the right to work 9 2 5
numbers games with no claims to
organ eyes or brains with imaginations
no one i know down here knows your name
but some of them would wannabe Puerto Ricans too
if they only knew

now i have read the very last words
at the end of your Selected Poetry
written by your true friends who kept their promise to you
they say that your 3 thousand poem telephone book
was a limited limited photocopied edition

now i am writing a Dear Pedro letter
there’s another book party to come
it will be just like i’m writing it
unless you want to rewrite it
there won’t be any politicians just
live muse ishans and poets and lovers
and rum and grass
i don’t think you’ll get this on a computer
or in a glossy magazine selling things
so i’ll send it to a blank page
take it to the stage
read it under bright lights
just like you in your picture
on your book on my table
i’ll say your name loud
you’ll have a dream about your Big Book party
at El Puerto Rican Embassy on Mars
it will be so

see you when i get there
yours in Poetry
martha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *