Coco-Cola and Coco Frio

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Coco-Cola and Coco Frio
Martin Espada
On his first visit to Puerto Rico,
island of family folklore,
the fat boy wandered
from table to table
with his mouth open.
At every table, some great-aunt
would steer him with cool spotted hands
to a glass of Coca-Cola.
One even sang to him, in all the English
she could remember, a Coca-Cola jingle
from the forties. He drank obediently, though
he was bored with this potion, familiar
from soda fountains in Brooklyn.

Then, at a roadside stand off the beach, the fat boy

opened his mouth to coco frio, a coconut
chilled, then scalped by a machete
so that a straw could inhale the clear milk.
The boy tilted the green shell overhead
and drooled coconut milk down his chin;
suddenly, Puerto Rico was not Coca-Cola
or Brooklyn, and neither was he.

For years afterward, the boy marveled at an island

where the people drank Coca-Cola
and sang jingles from World War II
in a language they did not speak,
while so many coconuts in the trees
sagged heavy with milk, swollen
and unsuckled.

From City of Coughing and Dead Radiators. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993.

Not Neither
Sandra Maria Esteves

Being Puertorriqueña Dominicana

Born in the Bronx, not really jibara
Not really hablando bien
But yet, not Gringa either
Pero ni portorra, pero si portorra too
Pero ni que what am I?
Y que soy, pero con what voice do my lips move?
Rhythms of Rosa wood feet dancing Bomba
Not even here, but here, y Conga
Yet not being, pero soy, and not really
Y somos, y cómo somos?
Bueno, eso si es algo lindo
Algo muy lindo

We defy translation

Ni tengo nombre
nameless, we are a whole culture once removed
Lolita alive for twenty-five years
Ni soy, pero soy Puertorriquñea commo ella
Giving blood to the independent star
Daily transfusions into the river of La Sangre Viva.

From Stone on Stone/Piedra Sobre Piedra, edited by Zoe Anglesey. Seattle: Open Hand, 1994.

Ode to the Diasporican
     (pa’ mi gente)

Mira a mi cara Puertorriqueña

Mi pelo vivo
Mis manos morenas
Mira a mi corazón que se llena de orgullo
Y di me que no soy Boricua.

Some people say that I’m not the real thing

Boricua, that is
cause I wasn’t born on the enchanted island
cause I was born on the mainland
north of Spanish Harlem
cause I was born in the Bronx…
some people think that I’m not bonafide
cause my playground was a concrete jungle
cause my Río Grande de Loiza was the Bronx River
cause my Fajardo was City Island
my Luquillo Orchard Beach
and summer nights were filled with city noises
instead of coquis
and Puerto Rico
was just some paradise
that we only saw in pictures.

What does it mean to live in between

What does it take to realize
that being Boricua
is a state of mind
a state of heart
a state of soul…


No nací en Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico nacío en mi.

Mira a mi cara Puertorriqueña

Mi pelo vivo
Mis manos morenas
Mira a mi corazón que se llena de orgullo
Y di me que no soy Boricua.

By Mariposa (a.k.a. María Teresa Fernández)

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