Speaking of Independence: Division Street, Chicago

by David Meyers

You must be some island

that you fill the hearts of so many so far away

with dreams of brilliant shimmering waters, flamboyant flora, and a thousand sweet fruits


It must be some magical Caribbean night

that gushes salsa up to the stars and back down to Division Street,

through that bombastic trombone known as Willie Colón


It must be some fancy guayaba-filled pastry you concoct

that your Borikén bakery-in-exile sells out of them by ten every morning

leaving hundreds without their sugar fix, in anguish and despair


It must be some inspiration you give

that your exiled son returns after 19 years, to work like a cotton-mouthed mule

adorning barrio walls with the Taino, African, and, yes, even the European symbols of your heritage


It must be some lush artist's palette

that paints such lovely smiles on the faces of your children,

shining through the tears of day-in-day-out havoc and depredation


It must be some crazy spirit you instill,

that the cold northern winter does nothing to still

your bomba y plena, your hip hop and punk rock en Español


You must have some little sister

to pit a man named Kayak against the largest fleet of ships in the world,

scaling double-speak Statues in her defense


It must be some special substance you possess,

to turn the eggs of your little sister's chickens

a brilliant bioluminescent blue


It must be some forbidden pleasure

that makes so many want to pillage your riches

and bombard, strafe, and chaff your little sister isle from dawn to dusk


It must be some sad misrepresentation

that has made you one of the most lucrative locations on earth

for tax-free corporate investment


It must be some perverse logic

that keeps sending your children far away from home

to a land where justice is the exception, genocide the rule


You must be some island

that your children and your children's children

never stop laughing and longing and fighting to set you free


For Luis Rosa, who continues to struggle "like a cotton-mouthed mule." Peace.

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