OYE MUNDO / sometimes

By Jesús Papoleto Meléndez Jesus Papoleto Melendez
sometimes (
                            when the night air feels chévere!
) when i can hear the real sound
of el barrio
on la conga        y timbales
coke bottles
& garbage can tops

          when i can feel
          & reallyreally touch
          la música Latina /     africana

& the fingerpoppin' soul
emergin from tears /     sweet tears of laughter

          & i can feel
          a conglomeration of vibrations /
          heat waves
          body waves
          people waves
          of real gente
          / & i feel gooooooood

when i can taste the rare culture
of cuchifritos        y lechón
chitterlins      & black-eyed peas
& corn bread

          & la pompa is open
          & cooooooools the hot tar
          of summer heated streets
          where children play
          kick-the-can (

& sirens
cannot be heard)
          / sometimes
when the last of the ghetto poets

writes of flowers
growin in gutters        / & i know it's real
          / sometimes

sometimes /      sometimes
when i can almost hear       / being echoed back
an answer
to my ghetto cry

sometimes /        sometimes
i run up the fire escape /      not to escape
& climb on the roof
& stand on the ledge
& look down
& yell out
to the midnight world
within :


& i forget about the junkies
on the stoop.

Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, "OYE MUNDO / sometimes" from Hey Yo! Yo Soy!: 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry A Bilingual Edition. Copyright © 2012 by Jesus Papoleto Melendez.  Reprinted by permission of 2Leaf Press.

Source: Hey Yo! Yo Soy!: 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry A Bilingual Edition (2Leaf Press, 2012)

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Poet Jesús Papoleto Meléndez

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

 Jesús Papoleto Meléndez


Raised in New York City’s east Harlem, poet and playwright Jesús Papoleto Melendez is one of the founding poets of the Nuyorican poetry movement. His short-lined, quick-turning poems engage city life through a mosaic of metaphor and song. In a 2013 New York Times article, David Gonzales observes, “The poems of Jesus “Papoleto” Melendez have a bopping rhythm, where words cascade down the page and—when he recites them—swirl around . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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