We first met Alba at our Prepping to Publish workshop with Sonora Jha a few months ago as part of our Building a POC Literary Community collaboration with POC United. We had the honor of featuring her in a Reading: Isolation a few weeks ago.
Now, we're excited to spotlight her work here on our website: presenting PUERTO RICAN QUEEN by Alba Delia Hernández.
The way I remember it—is that there were music notes beside his body. Like a quarter beat,
half a beat and a long silence.
My Queen says look up and you will see the intricate crisscrosses in the mattress above.
Thunder runs through circles of smoke that fell from the mouth of a lady. To you I can say
that together we can make a couple of hundred dollars, under to say that I lavish love
according to lastima.
And this is my middle finger sticking at you motherfucker. Because you know that I know.
Here I am in flesh and blood and my spirit talks to me so gentle and my smile is contagious,
so they tell me.
And this is me bouncing to the rhythm of babaloo. Looking at you and say something true
like the purple blue of your face.
Duele. Los sueños no siempre son lindos. Escuchen bien:
Que en las manos de un tigre yo vi el corazón de una niña
buena y sin falta y
ni paredes que me encierran en un boca grande.
Grandes. ASÍ. MIRA ASÍ.
In other words, touch a member of my clan and teeth will shatter until shreds of flesh like
I’m gonna find you, cucaracha, hiding in islands or skinny shaped continents. I’m going to
crawl through the mesh of this hole I put myself through because like an elephant mourns the
scent of a brother’s skin I know skin and skin is spotted.
Y yo queriendo ser una princesa liviana
la mas amada.
Sin embargo yo cruzo el puente con vergüenza en mi frente.
Mira, mira aquí, en mi palma está mi Mamá. Que linda es. Tan preciosa. Tan buena.
We’re leaving her out of this.
La tierra de Borinquén
Donde he nacido yo
Es un jardín florido
de mágico primor
I’m here to remind you that if one is ugly like you, son of a bitch. A bloodbath. Yeah, That’s
what I meant to say, a bloodbath. No, I’m sorry, what I meant to say was a bath of red
like a slap in the face,
your fist in my face.
Red like that.
Preparate! I’m so excited!
Somewhere along the line we all started to be polite to each other. Like, “is that ok?” Who
knew you would be as smart as the Chinese girl in your 5th grade class.
If someone tells you that my backyard is filled with rotten food and slashed tires and dead
pigeons, tell them they are lying.
However, if somebody tells me that today the sky is gray but that yesterday it was sunny.
There are no sunny days before today.
There’s a singulary voice of people that only can be heard when children that are without
proper consonants. It’s like saying that I am smarter than you.
If someone tells you that I do not know my consonants, tell them they are lying
You better be quick before come hither that unmentionable. The thought of evil is now like
sitting in your sofa and watching TV.
If someone tells you that there are broken bottles and dead cats in my backyard, tell them
they are lying. I have a parrot green and yellow that sings operas with the windows open.
Bring me drums and saints and fuerte immortal aguanile move like this like the tambourines
like metal clashing and people look for another day of faces that move like the speed of
water sharks traveling all to one purpose to eat and eat and eat. Eat this bit stuck between my
teeth slithering sinkering cantankerous snake.
And then we get saved a little song maybe you know it pretty girl. And those Puerto Rican
girls they be coming out at 12. Gonna get them. Dance. Dance. Dance it. But not like a ho.
Agun agun agun llevate el cuadro. Agun te heché fo. Si te llama el titere juan goyo, yo lo iré
Hey ho hi low bring me some of that horseshit home.
If someone tells you that my panties smell dirty, that my panties are brown with rust, tell
them to stop lying!
I’m giving you a head start. Run. Run fast. Run fast like a cheetah, like a lizard, like the wind
‘cause you’re being chased by a heavenful of snakes. Ha haaa. Run motherfucker run.
Para pan pan para pan pan para pan pan para pan pan. Let’s sing, let’s flow, especially when
there’s an intricate plot here that is being knitted in between the music. Oh a plot so plenty so
juicy so deserving of a place on a stage and Clytemnestra wringing her towel red deep. An ax in her hand. And Agamemnon thought he was getting an honorable bath. You should have
listened to your concubine who prophesized your death. Pendejo. Que tonto, que stoopid (you
so stoopid), he, never suspected it. You killed your own daughter you piece of shit.
Que han dado la señal
Despierta de ese sueño
Que es hora de luchar
She sat alone in her cell, quiet like a mouse starved waiting for night time. That time of night
when man, wife, child, husband, has gone to bed. Rage. My sister sits biting her nails staring
at the crisscrosses of the mattress above. Rancor. How does one kill a man? Brutal crime.
Rencor. Blood, open wounds, a knife, over and over again. How can a woman overcome a
man with her hands small delicate given to washing dishes, changing diapers, slipping and
sliding dicks? How, como se hace un crimen hací?
When my Queen, my sister, held the knife in her hand, she did not tremble. When she split
open the rivers of his head, she did not flinch. She swung at him from behind. He had no
chance. Punctured skin. He still had life in his eyes when my sister pulled me out of the
closet. She held me by the wrist when she said to him, “I know what you did to her.” My
Queen wasn’t even mad when she said that. Wow, my sister is an artist and his body was like
pig skin hanging from a hook. Colors mixed. Strange, red has never been her favorite color.
Yes, my sister is an artist. She is a blessing flower flowing her strokes like a peacock fanning
his feathers. Strange red has never been my favorite color, but today, yes, today, yes, red is
Alba Delia Hernández is a writer inspired by Puerto Rico, growing up in Bushwick, and salsa. Her writing was highly commended in the Poetry Project series ‘House Party,’ Like Light (Bright Hill Press), Calabash (A Journal of Caribbean and Arts and Letters), and most recently in Harvard’s Latinx Publication: PALABRITAS. She received the Bronx Council of the Arts First Chapter Award and Columbia University’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature Writing. She’s read at el Museo del Barrio, Nuyorican Poets Café and La Respuesta in Puerto Rico. Currently, she teaches creative writing to students across New York City public schools with Teachers & Writers Collaborative and other organizations.