Reflection Of Then And Now - Poem by Dan Quiles
Born & raised in the hood;
First established in 1964,
South End Community Development
Who helped renovate 83 abandoned buildings in Boston’s South End. Soon they merged with Greater Boston Community Development.
To expand in the whole metropolitan neighborhood.
Later, they would be best known as Boston Housing Authority (BHA) . The largest landlord in Boston.
The largest Public Housing Authority in New England.
BHA, provided our families and many others
Stability, affordable housing to low income families.
All my livelihood.
From 1975-94 On the famous red bricks.
Right on Lenox Street.
In the South End/Roxbury area.
Whom didn’t always meet, greet, treat us fairly.
Mostly especially to Puerto Ricans.
It is were I learn to be a man and learn tricks.
That was a bit slick, sick, thick, wick, flick.
And at times, I felt like crap and so much trapped.
And of course, I was quick to pick
As my con skills became my trade.
And I became sharp as a blade.
There was nothing to brag,
Because in the end,
I felt like a rag, drag dirty bag.
In the end, I had to be resilient to peer pressure
And become my own individual.
I used to be called little Mick For Irish white kid
Soon, they found out I spoke Spanish
Then I was called little spic.
And that alone tick me off,
But at least I wasn’t a gay chick.
Being from the ghetto;
And as I got older;
Helped structured, frame, and developed me
To have a passion, compassion for lonely& dusty books that look Incredibly enticing and nourishing to the soul.
It was my escape.
My own kingdom.
My real education unlike Boston High School.
Took place in the local library of the South End,
That helped me get away & fly away within my own imaginations. Helped me recover my time loss.
And nurtured me with the needs,
That would help me weed,
Feed my own deed.
Create my own seed.
In this journey I can only thank my caring parents Antonio & Juanita
And a beloved Social Worker, mentor & friend Tony de Jesus.
For their endless encouragement and show me the value of Proper education and moral values.
For helping me pledge and ledge new steps
That would eventually convert to continual reps.
On another note: I grew up on Spam Ham
I envision myself running on a lam;
From all that spam ham.
At times I felt a little sham.
It wasn’t all that, but it was food.
Also, we used to eat a lot of peanut butter & jelly
It was our treat.
We ate it like meat.
Sort of like trick & treat.
My brothers and I would fight for the jelly and bread;
Poor Wonder Bread!
Now, I grew up watching single parents
Harassing the mail man day in and day out.
To see if the stamps would come in.
Mapping and timing every second.
No! Not the mail stamps,
But food stamps.
Each time it would lamp
Their souls and fill a desire need
To feed Their hungry children,
That looked like anxious pilgrims.
Some families abused the system,
Of the office of welfare.
Some needed it to survive the abnormalities of living.
It sure helped our family jump that lump in our lives.
I am grateful they are programs that help families in need.
It is unfortunate others give welfare/food-stamps a bad name.
In addition, the hood was full of coach roaches
Encroaching, witching, lynching, the whole apartment.
It was part of the home setting that was yuck,
With not much luck.
Especially at night when one used turn the lights on;
One could see them everywhere running wild
Like a speeding cattle in a middle of a battlefield.
Forget about having them yield to humanity.
What an unstoppable force.
If one left a cup full soda overnight, they would all hang out like ants
All over the cup in order taste the sugar.
It was never beneficial and preferential to have them
Since it left stains on the tall walls and eggs everywhere.
The most embarrassing moment was having guests around And seeing a damn cucaracha scattered around with ease across the wall, Having a ball in these stained walls.
And one wishes that the guest wouldn’t see them.
Getting all weakness, what a stillness, tightness, and motionless moment.
What a pit, hit, spit, bit shit.
I used to torture them by smashing and trashing them with my feet.
And that alone was my inner treat and my own feat under the drumbeat.
Loud music was the norm
A form of entertainment.
Enjoying the moment.
A way of representing their black & latino culture.
Although most thought we were like vultures.
Hip hop, rap, salsa, merengue was our music.
Some wanted to be wishing, witching, hissing, and pissing
Our own likings.
It wasn’t the case; instead it became part of us.
Music was what got youths in a real groove.
It became their everyday rhythm.
Part of the arts.
That caps a map of opportunities and possibilities for the younger generation.
Another classic example:
Graffiti, break dancing and the Arts was part of our every day ray.
It was part of our culture.
Some saw it as a sin or invaluable measurement.
I always saw it as an immeasurable volume of talent
That was content & eager to express, and not too repress and just let the community aware of
The entity of its rich talent within their society.
To this day,
Too much focus in foreign affairs while our domestic issues are wounded.and hurting badly.
It is hurting our society.
More than ever the youths need support & necessary resources.
Most of the youths are fatherless, motherless, empower less, homeless, reach less, loss, their need to survive has become pointless.
So, most of them turn to drugs, gangs, cults, violence, suicide, or become a run-away,
And that is the reason there is so much problems in the world of juveniles.
No support and too much preaching and teaching but never any reaching.
Therefore, the arts have proven to be a positively constructive.
To be devoted in the arts is to see less crime & suicide on the rise. Youths need more than ever valuable resources, qualified and passionate professionals to help.
Respectable materials to study,
not some old and outdated text.
Access to personal computer in each classroom setting for the benefit of any teaching model.
To provide for each child and youth will be beneficial and essential in every precocious state.
To provide is show a celebration of life.
A way to give to others.
It gives new hope and fresh insight and new perspective.
To support the creative arts is to save the young generations and those yet to come.
I learned about work ethics From my grandfather:
Best known as: ‘Lua’.
Life was brutal.
My grand dad and I worked as a team.
We would go around in every corner, every single garbage trash can Looking for a five cent cans or bottles.
Which meant a possible potential earning.
Getting our hands dirty on a disturbing summer time.
Being laughed at by neighboring kids.
Seeing other kids have fun in little leagues,
Having fun, really bothered & disturbed me greatly.
Nevertheless, I learned so much.
We earned a bunch,
It meant eating out for lunch.
It also meant we could and would munch all we could eat in buffet style with exhilarating feeling,
Knowing full well, that today was dandy As a candy.
It was a way to survive for us and others as well.
It was not always swell,
But it was a way to live honorably and respectably.
In which in the end we never harbored any ill Will.
I have seen and read a lot of negativity Via media, politicians and journalism as a whole Only promoting crime, failure in youths,
Never anything positive or a success story.
Who wants to be in an entry level positions with low wages?
State dream jobs are being prohibited
Simply because of someone’s past.
Should someone be judge for there past or for their current success a comeback that has left an embarking stamp to their struggling ladder? Do we know their reasoning behind their past circumstances.
How can we judge and label others.
How can we easily hurt the youths and young adult’s future?
If we don’t believe in them, then who will?
Who will give them a chance in society if we are so easy to condemn. We all want to be someone.
Not just be anybody but productive citizens in this world.
We want to succeed, proceed and excel in life.
Only give us a chance.
Not a close door.
Don’t cut their dreams back.
Like a shark attack.
Where are the churches when we need them.
The churches used to be like a powerful government.
The true force.
The pavement for the future.
It was the elite One.
Full of influence and power.
People had a preference & reverence in the churches.
What happened to the loss of credibility.
The ability to make a difference.
Mixed messages to the public.
Swirled with controversy.
Hidden sexual and fraud scandals.
A lot of hypocrites have hurt the heart of the church.
We hear a lot of positive messages but not enough acting.
Am I over reacting or is it the truth?
Why can’t we be productive church goers and make an impact in our Local neighborhoods.
Why can’t we provide quality time to the kids.
They need our assistance and persistence.
Lets sacrifice some social time.
Community service is key.
Lets pray and work together.
Lets show society that there are solutions.
There are better ways in dealing with us/we.
Now lets get to little Snoopy.
Snoopy was the mean little Chihuahua
Around the labyrinth neighborhood
Tormenting the whole hood.
What a storm of torment.
Stood tall for many years.
He was quick, swift to the exaggerated point.
Scaring and chasing the little kids.
The sound of its snarl, growl and barks were terribly terrifying.
As we grew to manhood.
Adulthood was passable.
We started bullying the damn thing around.
We would start throwing all sorts of things to that thing.
It usually didn’t work out that well with those sharp teeth & wit.
I remember vividly once kicking the damn devil so hard.
He flew across the street only to give me a mean lean look And showing off its sharp teeth.
Only to get angrier and hungrier.
He was no treasure.
Now the pressure was on him.
Snoopy was never the tormentor
But the tormented Cemented in his head that we were the boss now. The measure of its height no more.
It wore thin now.
And one day just like that; he was gone like the wind.
Family is the kind of membership
That needs careful attention.
Our Puerto Rican family was & is a close knit.
Tight, loud and real proud.
Back in the days; only blacks and Puerto Ricans existed in the hood. At least in that part of the hood.
The Afro-Americans and Puerto Ricans
Had only one thing in common:
Mainly we were part of the minority percentages.
In addition, we were proud of our rich heritage; (language, skin, size, sports talents and etc.) .
Even though there was so much conflict, competition, misunderstanding, Tension and friction amongst ourselves. Idealistically and preferentially
We got along better than with the White folks.
For the sake of future relationships
We had to work on stability In order to have Tranquility and the ability To worship one’s own actions.
Was to withdraw all possibility and probability for the long road ahead of us.
Reputation is our legacy.
To much pride as wide as Washington & Tremont St. put together. Balance in life must start with one’s own blood.
It is the flood of the blood that represents everything we’re.
Kinship should always be worshiped,
But also we must treat each other like family.
In end we are all one. We should be one.
Love should be like a flying dove.
It must drive past all lust Overcome all lust, dust, and bust
And be true, pure, to all colors.
We must learn to show support,
Make constructive reports,
Build a foundation of stability built ports
That can last our past generations
And become an endless evolution
And our exception And justification to work,
Humbly and cohesively Without any interruption,
But an endless eruption,
Edification of endless connection
To all people, given them Options and opportunities,
That will benefit ALL,
That is what love should represent
To our neighboring ones.
Remembering summer camps,
I remember learning new skills such as:
Fishing, swimming, painting, hunting, calligraphy, survival skills, kayaking, mountain climbing, and cooking,
Besides learning a whole new world. It also meant being away from the city. It meant smelling fresh air.
Being close to the ocean.
So close to mother nature.
Now that’s poetry.
A flair of new serene.
Personally a therapeutic value.
It also meant working with a diverse groups,
It meant networking with new kids from similar background.
The whole experience was very sacred grounds.
It kept me in good ground.
There was so much a sense of community, Wholeness.
Growing up, one felt and observed about all sorts of rejection.
Our world is so full of imperfection.
Rejection is to feel dejection
The strong root of rejection Leaves a clear projection
Of things to come and become Is not a feeling one should call home.
It is a road that is too broad and hard to unload.
Overcoming it is a challenge itself.
Taking a first step of healing and moving onward is beneficial. Answers is not always in others but in self.
In this world we must at times stand alone as an elf.
The root of rejection comes from many roots already planted.
It is a constant struggle of security vs. insecurity.
What’s the point of having tons of friends if none are true friends. Where are the friends we need them.
What do u prefer quantity or quality?
It is something no one likes to speak openly.
It is what makes others feel uncomfortable.
A lot of times people feel unease and act inappropriately.
In that process people can be morally or immorally wrong.
Most are in self-denial about this issue.
Perception in rejection is not always a fact.
We must unveil all revelation in time.
Communication should bring clarification,
Our options in rejection is to accept it and move on
And try being stronger, overcoming all backstabbers,
Looking at the other side of the road that awaits us with open arms. Learning and growing is the key to our path.
Don’t pay too much mind in having others accept and praise you.
You don’t need others to accept you.
As long as you praise God he will always accept you just as you are. You are an exquisite instrument onto his eyes.
You are his jewel.
He will take care of you.
He will never abandon you.
He will take away all roots of rejection.
God never rejects anyone or anybody.
We are the ones who reject him.
Even I have rejected him only to come back to him for restoration and edification.
We must learn to trust in our Creator.
He can only change our ways of feelings.
In the end he is only ONE whom we should serve.
Our responsibility should be with God.
It is the only thing that matters.
Believe in the power of prayer and you shall feel much better.
Lets take other’s people examples and embrace it as an inspirational instrument.
Redemption, edification though mediation is the solution to our salvation
For the sake of our mental health and ever evolving soul.
Finally, I have awaken from my morning reflection I sense a new light of direction.
Sorry, it wasn’t no erection
But a sporadic thought.
Deep penetration of contemplation and election Of waking up now with new perspective Innovative vision and respective Status to my name.
I may never have fame.
I don’t seek it,
But it doesn’t mean I am all that lame.
At least, I will never bring shame
To my family’s name.
18. Now I have found my voice.
Not by choice or by chance,
But by the Joyce Of my own grace.
Still I must keep my poise.
My choice to write, generate creatively
Is my peace & joy Hoping it will be my ploy.
Through self motivation, inspiration,
A little self-reservation and preservation,
I face a path of many windows of opportunities.
I am not timid anymore. I am not even frigid either.
I am fully content with being a service to others.
I am proud of the placid self that has developed
With skills that are billed and grilled
For: reaching, teaching, preaching, pitching, stitching
And approaching who are less fortunate.
That need a little guide, abide by constant encouragement.
Better life and time management.
And more friendlier smiles and positive pep talks.
I know we all need a little push.
I will always be there to rush and crush
And bust all negativity and bring options and hope in order to cope with life.
I am there for you.
You are there for me.
We can grow together.
We can help each other along the way.
There will be many chapters in our lives.
Just hang in there.
I am here. Where? There!
Real friends are far and few.
I embrace it.
I welcome it.
I am loving it right now.
Do you? 19. I tried being firm in the test of time. Now, I don’t give a dime, Wasn’t all that lime. Life doesn’t always rhythm. Becoming a survivor became an attribute. It is my self tribute. My only trusting mate And eventually my fate Word is that those that come from public housing Are bound for failure. I am no failure. I am one of the few. That is no Jew, but golden jewel. Hell with the percentages and the odds. I am fighting for the ultimate dream. So can you. 20. In 1994, I thought I would finish college soon After I got off from High School. It has been challenging road. An endless struggle. An Odyssey. Many surprises. Many lessons learned. A hurdle never imagined. One learns many things. The brush with fate has taught me many things. Mostly about: Self-Discovery. Self-Recovery. Self-Development. Total Redemption. Forgiveness. Personal, Professional & Academic growth. An endless metamorphosis. Nine years have passed and now I have only two semesters left to finish What I started many years ago. I haven’t always taken advantage of many available doors. I have been a fool in that regard. Don’t you do the same. As I have evolved, so have my hunger to improve my self-status. I feel like an aging wine. Ready to dine And make my world mine A fine moment to truly shine. Ready to enshrine What should have been mines long ago. Historically, poetically, locally, partially, Circumstantially, prophetically, it is our Duty, to not get all moody & down about our own circumstances, But make a stand, land firmly and bravely to our feet. No matter how steep it is. No matter how wet it is; we must always Seek a balance & order to find stability and tranquility for the sake of self. The ability of the frailty that waits in our curvy roads. It may be abroad but we must never loose sight of what is. And what could be.
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