To me myself them and others always then and now that day   
we was flying through above Atlantic Ocean clouds the plane   
and the plan O also plain language plano feet or face was in   
perfect harmonious bolero wavy plena to someplace a few miles   
away from heaven this gathered from the way the adults poke   
their eyes out from their natural sockets   More here in the   
United States the actual splendour of big cities disfigures   
your face even more than imagining its sweetness so much that   
you can’t   taste yourself the way you taste yourself when the   
sun shines on through your stomach   All you knew was that the   
birds fly with you in them too   All you knew was miles of green   
road eating you   One year that comes and another one that splits   
that’s the way the jingle puts it one December made a print   
in your mind   And the next December the passion and excitement   
the coconut rice and Eisenhower who was President of the   
United States used to come to our parties and sit inside the   
television set and I began to see paths in the wall by way of   
cracks how would this be interpreted Also the cracks made   
a perfect bear   this must be the Life of skidsofrenos without   
any breaks I thought I could take a small bike that I had   
and go exploring through the next apartment after I took the   
room or the road   When I told Mom she said Qué confusión so many   
questions   back in Aguas Buenas the water was clear and here   
there is no guava   They can keep Puerto Rico just give us   
the guava of independence   depending on no bodies   tortures dreams   
of the past or future within the present State no State ever of   
things She loves that fruit the best    Assemblage yourself for the rum-
ble on Avenue D against the Sportsman we gonna kick them off the   
earth yet see them floating down the East River   the street was noisy   
and full of jumping bodies moving somewhere   One quiet afternoon   
the President of one gang fought the President of another gang and   
the afternoon changed nature with voices of O man git him Roach
fought Roach fought   One of the presidents was named Roach and   
he fought and the other guy fought from the middle of the block to
the corner and another person who was not part of the tussle kept   
saying Roach fight Roach fought Roach fight Roach is in it Roach is   
the one the one is Roach It is Roach do it Roach   Roach it is   Roach   
jumped up he threw him down   heat sweating glands Roach   is out   
he came out and is into a tumbao with Look Roach   Tropical   
serenity atop hammock and eating Bacalao ala Española and if   
news of Ponce de Leon reaches here   That he is looking for the   
Fountain of Youth   say just be tranquil take a bath you smell like   
Manhattan sewers if you get drunk don’t bite your eyes   You cannot   
find a plane to go back to that plane   The fight kept moving up the   
avenue and they fought and fought till they went over the horizon   
We have learned the greatest lesson in geography as we moved along   
through space at 29 thousand feet   eating air going to the next age   
over   or under or beyond   What it could have been like   
                                                                               Sticking it   
into her like a root the idea that she can go back and once again feel   
happy that she can go to big cabaret dancing in Santurce   
Appreciate   the aroma of strangers   That is what it says in the Bible   
the one translated by the maniacs from the land where the Papaya   
grows to its full size like a basketball   
In the new landscape you can see the word escape into your roots   
when they are riding well and it feels hot like you into   the   
center   fabricating thru air motions of mountains of motional   
emotion scribbling   it takes a lot of concentration to move your   
nerves like that   Slow up within the jet   within the slow propellers   
of the 50’s   Hold up a second there has been a change of space   
but everything remains the same angles on your life   your   
destiny   You do your claves on the paper I will read you   
your secrets   Civilization smells so different within the iron   
trees   Sivilessensation   spread yourself out of it listen to   
the beat abnormalize yourself compa.

Victor Hernández Cruz, “Airoplain” from Tropicalization, copyright © 1976 by Victor Hernandez Cruz. Originally published by Reed, Cannon, Johnson & Co. Reprinted with permission of the author.
Source: Tropicalization (Reed Cannon Johnson & Co., 1976)
More Poems by Victor Hernández Cruz