Sunday, December 4

Conquistador

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Conquistador By Layla Abdullah (photo collage by Marina Ortiz)By Layla Abdullah
—Liberation Mic, Justice Center in El Barrio, March 31, 2017

Manipulated, Manuscripted, Monotone, Mission
You quenched your thirst
By inserting venom in the naive parts of my Queendom

You circled around my block
Like a cop chasing a black body on a summer night
Like a pigeon with one wing disassembled
Like a tourist in a city too big for their liking

Making me taste control like the way I taste Patriarchy
On city pavements
I was a family business making ends meet
Till you gentrified this street
Changing the curfews of public parks
And making it a crime to be seen on public property

I was but a light post, staying bright in a city that dissolved beings
And like Con Edison you caught off the electricity on my block
Made glass on a sidewalk out of the ordinary

So you swept these streets
Of course not with your own hands
fixed the lamp post that would gently rock back and forth
Untied all the sneaker strings from cable wires
Tighten the screw of my fire hydrant
so water will not spring in the air
Like the frizziness of my curls

You needed to tighten my screws
Monopolize the water pipeline
And give me access when you granted it

You cemented the cracks that made our mother’s back crack
Just so you can say you fixed an impoverished neighborhood
To say you fixed a broken girl, with no Dad to teach her how to never let a man
Fix her neighborhood
when it felt like home to her for 21 years

That she is not just property of the state
But landscape painters tried for centuries to capture in still life
She is not just a lamp post
But light itself the very equation that equals Lit
She is what Newton thought of in all the light rays of various colors

As he attempts to repaint her dark rusty black and yellow roads
He figures that signs will be necessary
To reduce traffic, to reduce confusion, or to control the culture of her neighborhood

He does not understand her norms
All he is interested in is his property
His purpose in life

So he doesn’t understand that Latino restaurant on the corner of his new found territory
Makes her favorite dish
He doesn’t like beans and finds it much more appealing if the line cook
Will learn a different cuisine
Her cuisine is not adored on his territory

Her graffiti sprayed walls
Her side walks that screech poetry in every sewer deposit
Is well
Unattractive

Her  skin tone and accent is not..well… exotic enough
Her bricked walls and handball courts don’t bring enough friction to his
Diction

The light flickers on Freedom street
But nothing in this neighborhood is free
All her rights are reserved to him

Conquistador By Layla Abdullah (photo collage by Marina Ortiz)

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