Miguel Algarín era Poeta. Lo escribimos con mayúscula porque era su nombre propio. En su casa en Manhattan se reuneian los poetas. Tantos que tuvieron que buscar un local donde estuvieran más cómodos. Junto a otros Poetas como Miguel Piñero y Pedro Pietri cofundó el Nuyorican Poets Café, que hoy es una de las institucionesculturales más importantes de la comunidad puertorriqueña y latinoamericana en Estados Unidos.
Algarín era promotor de la poesía y la cultura. Su voz e influencia llegaban a la radio, al cafee, y fue editor de varias antologías que le dieron impulso al género. Sus libros meas conocidos son Mongo Affair , On Call (1980), Body Bee Calling from the 21st Century (1982), Time’s Now / Ya es tiempo (1985), Love Is Hard Work: Memorias de Loisaida / Poems ( 1997, Poemas / Recuerdos del Lower East Side) y Supervivencia Supervivencia de Prensa Arte Público. 2009, del que presentamos una selección.
Rafael Acevedo/En Rojo
«Always throw the first punch»
My uncle always insisted,
“strike the first punch,
put your enemy on the run.”
I always threw the first punch,
“attack, attack, attack,
put the hurting
on his limbs,»
the night my uncle
got angry because I said
his wife thought his nuts
were christmas walnuts
and that she cracked them
every day of the year,
his left arm twitched,
I leapt at him
and struck first.
Miguel Algarin, «“Always throw the first punch” (1980)» from Survival Supe
Elections and . . . : second part (1985)
«People go out to vote
but the guerrillas obstruct them.»
That’s what’s said on Channel 4 in Manhattan.
On the 28th of March we’re made to understand
that Democracy is being obstructed
by the left, «the guerrillas
fire against the Salvadoran people,»
but that chaos was invented in the White House
and it doesn’t afflict the public in Chatatenango,
there aren’t any guarantees
for the public to take hold of!
although some go out and vote pretending
that the machinery is not fraudulent,
that Duarte doesn’t repress,
not withstanding that it’s written in every man’s bible,
that in El Salvador Christ has not yet
freed his folk.
We tell in strength. “The telling,” when to tell, leads to a discovery
between the teller and the listener. Acquiring knowledge; the teller
holds his/her information as a tool for health, movement towards truth.
To converse as an attempt to recuperate, a holding on not to die.
To acquire “language” for talking about a plague in the self.
Who to tell? Is there someone? The search for what to tell.
Welcome the responsibility to do the work of building verbs, adjectives
and nouns for mortality and its subsequent eternal breaking of concrete.
Revel at ion,
rebel at I one a course
to regret erections,
to whip the cream in my scrotum
till it hardens into unsweetened,
unsafe revved elations
of milk turned sour
by the human body,
of propagation of destruction.
The epiphany: I am unsafe,
you who want me
know that I who want you,
harbor the bitter balm of defeat.
If I were to show you
how to continue holding on,
I would not kiss you,
I would not mix my fluids with yours,
for your salvation
cannot bear the live weight
of your sharing liquids with me.
to tongue into sounds
how I would cleanse you with urine,
how my tasting tongue would wash your body,
how my saliva and sperm would bloat you,
to touch you in our lovemaking
and not tell you
would amount to murder,
to talk about how to language this
so that you would still languish
in my unsafe arms and die,
seems beyond me,
I would almost rather lie
but my tongue muscle moves involuntarily
to tell of the danger in me.
- Of Health
To use my full and willing
body to reveal and speak
the strength that I impart
without taking away what I would give,
to use my man’s tongue
to exact nothing,
to receive all things,
to expand my macho
and let the whole world
into the safety of my mature masculinity.
Sometimes I fear touching your plump ear lobes:
I might contaminate you.
Sometimes I refuse odors that would
drive my hands to open your thick thighs.
Sometimes closing my ears to your voice
wrenches my stomach and I vomit to calm wanting.
Can it be that I am the bearer of plagues?
Am I poison to desire?
Do I have to deny yearning for firm full flesh
so that I’ll not kill what I love?
No juices can flow ‘tween you and me.
Quicksand will suck me in.
New Year’s Eve
December 31, 1975
Richie playing the maracas
is the universe becoming fluid
and the Nuyorican Café
floor becoming platform
for the shape of art
to mimic so that the artifact
becomes direct message
no symbols of
but the very thing itself
the knife in the belly
and the blues singing soft
shoes of pain as my gut
kicks my nerves insisting
on its pain vomiting more pain
about gifts that on a Christmas
day reached a dead child
too late to be played with
but it wasn’t the deliverer’s fault
it was his uncle who kept forgetting
that Christmas falls with love
not on a calendar but on the tenderest
feelings where the self of all others wants
love and sharp edges that awake
the internal mind into a self-created speech
that reaches over into your listener’s system
and reschedules his entire psychic set,
I once had a friend who in one afternoon
traced all of my spinal short-circuits
and rearranged my electrical flow
into more fluid work than the switch-on,
switch-off, I’m overloaded crisis
that results in nausea, asphyxiation and the
swallowing of my tongue
hay un epileptic fit
trying to reduce me into a trembling
mass of jellied nerves, formless,
shuddering, there, on the subway floor
while hundreds of passengers masochistically
look on both enjoying my crisis and feeling sorry
for me, the poor wretch, lying on the dirty
concrete subway floor imploring my muscles
and nerves to keep cool and cut the short-
circuit tongue down my throat menace
out and institute a no-nonsense
coherent I’m a mechanical and predictable
human being behavior modification program
to counter my muscular violence against myself
which keeps calling attention to itself while the
transit cop is almost breaking both my legs
by throwing his full weight on me as he
tries to hold my legs still and my mouth open
grabbing at my tongue, yanking it out,
shaking my shoulders, slapping my face,
working to neutralize the short-circuit
in my spine till Dr. Psychiatrist starts
to define my mind and its connections
into a State Asylum where I can get more
medication than I do out on the streets
or have the medication forced on me by a
well-meaning nurse who relates herself to me
through an every four hour give him his
it’s 11:59 p.m. 1975
and I got one more minute of talk
before 1976 finds me shooting up and down
behind the Nuyorican Café bar trying to
decide if nuclear war will ravage
New York before I find out just how
to divide the line so that it repairs
short-circuits that block the world
from coming together! it is 12 a.m.
the new year’s been bombed and over the T.V.
the hottest news release tells us that at La Guardia
Airport an explosion was so strong that tiny,
invisible slivers of glass have penetrated the skin
of many but the slivers are so fine that
it cannot be detected where they’ve entered
and here it is 1976 enters in like a
glass sliver undetected yet causing pain.