I Come to See for Myself: On the Anniversary of Hurricane Maria
By Nancy Mercado

I fly in to see for myself
below, blue tarps over the homes of my nation
like those silver blankets that cover the souls
of Mayan and Arawak children locked inside cages
on the US mainland I left behind

arriving home, I enter a mass of confusion
plantain crops walloped in their places of birth
five-foot tall grass rebelliously advancing to heaven
my mother’s lemon tree on her last leg
hunched over, barely breathing

I witness it for myself
splintered wooden electrical poles
held up by a neighbor’s twine
trees arrowed through one another
now growing sideways, surviving.

Not the palm trees though
the palm trees chose victory or death
no in-between half-hearted living
some growing new hair
others simply guillotined
by Maria’s detonation.

I walk into the new growth of forest
detect the low lamenting sounds of the injured there
witness the anger etched into the undulating
mountains surrounding me in the distance.

I see the US cavalry arrived just in time
Cortez and Columbus repackaged
into a 21st Century nightmare
armies in metallic flying machines
using talking devices, exchanging messages
in a foreign language through invisible airways

I see the cavalry arrived to help
themselves to the casinos they built
to hurl paper towels at the local mortician
to seize their opportunity to maximize
on the extinction of the natives
keeping them in drawn-out darkness
with no power to run hospitals  
no shelter, with no water

I cross the land
from West to East, South to North
to see the revelers and the ruined for myself
to lend an ear to survivors and to the dead
see shuttered schools for miles along the route,
I run out of fingers
on which to count them all

                            part of the plan to ruin us

a small voice reminds me.

I walk along the turquoise shore
lined of amputated homes
crumbled fences
collapsed doorways into the sea
inside, bits and pieces of families remain
their vestiges now
across the Atlantic at the opposite end

back in Ponce, I sit in my mother’s rocking chair
watch my neighbor’s hummingbirds
who’ve arrived to visit her ruby coral bells
I think of my father’s strength
in his humility, he walked in silence
built a house to withstand
a cyclonic catastrophe.

I’ve seen for myself
the natives are
the majesty of this world
together they’ve cleared the paths
sawing, hewing through mammoth
barriers of deceit and loathing

retrieved their own water
traversing the inundation
of Washington’s elite
that vowed to drown them

they went about their lives
by the light of a candle
or an old wooden light pole
they stitched back together
with all the love on Earth

maneuvering through a world of cadavers
inside Maria’s eye
amid the tantrums of the privileged
a nation held its ground
now, raises its foundation
of ancestral eminence anew.

Ushering in Armageddon
on the eve of trump’s election
By Nancy Mercado

We rapidly disappear all drinkable water
Ramming engorged steel pipes
Like a rapist’s penis into the Earth
Injecting its insides of vile poisons
Lacerating its core
Leaving warm radiant grasslands
Stippled of dark grey gaseous machines
Rusting oozing mucus onto the countryside
Choking-vaporous clouds rising from rivers

Waterways cloaked with upended salmon
Assorted insects we’d yet to encounter

Mass extinctions
Of other life forms run amuck
Before us
Because of us

We indulge in gluttony
Zealots for crude oil
Nuclear fuel and intangible futures

We indulge in greed
Crazed for imbecilic video games
Prime time and commercial ads
Making others rich
And our minds poor

We coddle our narcissism
The idea that we are invincible
Masters of the universe
Superior to all life forms
Yet ignorant of countless creatures
Inhabiting black depths at the bottom
Of our own planet’s seas

We sentence ourselves to wrath
Placing madmen at the helm of a nuclear empire  

We fornicate
With money and palm oil lovers
Torching vast swaths of Earth’s forests
Decimating acres at whim

We sentence ourselves to deception
Choosing fanciful illusions
We are leviathan stars
On a global stage
Existing only inside
The flat screens of our cracked skulls

We sentence ourselves to sloth
Lethargically sitting by
Witnessing the implosion
Of even our own families

Never lifting a finger
Never troubling our carcasses
Out of cushy cheap sofas bought at Walmart
On Veteran’s Day sales

We splatter everything over
Of syrupy affirmations
That disguise our crimes
That masked our cataclysms
Our inertia
Our self-inflicted Armageddon
Like a junkie shooting up
That last dose of bad endings
A rehashed nightmare

How utterly foolish we are.

Nancy Mercado is the recipient of the American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement presented by the Before Columbus Foundation. She was recently named one of 200 living individuals who best embody the work and spirit of Frederick Douglass by the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. She is the editor of the Nuyorican Women Writers Anthology published in Voices e/Magazine, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College-CUNY; an online literary journal. A guest curator for the Museum of American Poetics, Mercado is also assistant editor and board member of Eco-Poetry.Org; a website dedicated to addressing the issue of climate crises. Featured on National Public Radio’s The Talk of the Nation, and a PBS NewsHour Special, America Remembers 9/11, Mercado has authored: It Concerns the Madness  (a poetry collection), Las Tres Hermanas (a children’s coloring book), and is the editor of if the world were mine (a young adult anthology).