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MIGUEL PIÑERO: A Lower East Side Poem

July 6, 2009

Miguel Piñero (19 December 1946 – 18 June 1988)

Miguel Piñero (19 December 1946 – 18 June 1988)

I first heard this poem by Miguel, a Puerto Rican playwright, actor, and co-founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, during a therapeutic workshop ran by Aja-Monet at Odyssey house in NYC. Something about the emotion in this piece tied into the workshop was an extraordinary spiritual journey that allowed us to speak creatively with vulnerable expression.

I sit here today, multi-tasking, picking up expendables at a vendor for an independent feature and wanting to share this with you today. Feel free to comment.

A Lower East Side Poem

Just once before I die
I want to climb up on a
tenement sky
to dream my lungs out till
I cry
then scatter my ashes thru
the Lower East Side.

So let me sing my song tonight
let me feel out of sight
and let all eyes be dry
when they scatter my ashes thru
the Lower East Side.

From Houston to 14th Street
from Second Avenue to the mighty D
here the hustlers & suckers meet
the faggots & freaks will all get
on the ashes that have been scattered
thru the Lower East Side.

There’s no other place for me to be
there’s no other place that I can see
there’s no other town around that
brings you up or keeps you down
no food little heat sweeps by
fancy cars & pimps’ bars & juke saloons
& greasy spoons make my spirits fly
with my ashes scattered thru the
Lower East Side…

A thief, a junkie I’ve been
committed every known sin
Jews and Gentiles… Bums and Men
of style… run away child
police shooting wild…
mother’s futile wails… pushers
making sales… dope wheelers
& cocaine dealers… smoking pot
streets are hot & feed off those who bleed to death…

all that’s true
all that’s true
all that is true
but this ain’t no lie
when I ask that my ashes be scattered thru
the Lower East Side.

So here I am, look at me
I stand proud as you can see
pleased to be from the Lower East
a street fighting man
a problem of this land
I am the Philosopher of the Criminal Mind
a dweller of prison time
a cancer of Rockefeller’s ghettocide
this concrete tomb is my home
to belong to survive you gotta be strong
you can’t be shy less without request
someone will scatter your ashes thru
the Lower East Side.

I don’t wanna be buried in Puerto Rico
I don’t wanna rest in Long Island cemetary
I wanna be near the stabbing shooting
gambling fighting & unnatural dying
& new birth crying
so please when I die…
don’t take me far away
keep me near by
take my ashes and scatter them thru out
the Lower East Side…

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2009 6:02 pm

    i love this poem…. its sooooooooooo beautiful

  2. Mark Fogarty permalink
    January 2, 2010 7:59 pm

    saw the movie, read a few articles said he was a hero or a fake. The poem is true and that’s all that matters.

  3. September 20, 2011 12:19 pm

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