Marcus Garvey Park

Got off the train at 125th St.

Sitting on a bench,
transcribing my thoughts,
wondering if my dad ever sat in this seat.

                             I could use some answers but my pen is reluctant.

This wasn't his hood.

His territory was about forty blocks north,
               but        this was                                          his city.

                             Did the evening smell like this when he was here?

The 2-train would have brought him here at some point. If I listen close, he's probably giving me answers, coming through the breeze, in between lovers holding hands and adolescents on the playground, recalling their childhood. His words sound like Stokely Carmichael having dinner at Sylvia's.

These are difficult shoes to walk in. No wonder I'm stumbling. They feel too big.
I want to be the father              he was                             and the father               he wasn't.

The truth is he might have sat in this exact bench, nodding off singing Billy Holiday. Taking the same journey she took so many times. Right arm flexed with subway tracks marking every stop from Intervale Ave. to 125th St.

Daniel Boone Playground (the next day)
Got off the train at Intervale Ave.

I walk down blocks,                 that I know,
              he walked a thousand times—
                            skinny legs, giant heart,
                                                       trudging along the footpaths
                                                                                                                    of the South Bronx.

                             I had to stop writing for a second.

I have to admit that I am self-conscious about the thought of crying my brains out on a park
bench in the                    Boogie Down               Bronx.

               "Premier like a motherfucka!" he use to shout,

announcing that he was one
of the Mighty Premiers
and everyone knew:

               "They were some bad motherfuckas from Kelly St."

They called him Lefty Morningbreeze. Lefty, cuz he batted lefty in stickball;
Morningbreeze cuz he could go
                                                                        in            and            out
                                            of an apartment,            as gently            as
                                                                                                      the morning breeze.

I'm not a premier but I still want to wear the Converse that Lefty use to wear,
                                                                                                                                              at least sometimes.

I want the smell of cuchifritos to have the same relevance for my two boys as it does for me, even if they become vegetarians. I want them to understand that the Puerto Rican sun shines on 169th St on October afternoons.

I walk into a bodega lookin for something Puerto Rican to drink and grab a Coco Rico:

                             Bottled in San Juan, PR by the Pepsi Bottling Co.

I hope my children understand this irony as well as I do.

Victorio Reyes is an activist and artist living in Albany, NY. Reyes was featured in the anthology of emerging writers: Chorus, published by MTV Books and edited by Saul Williams. He holds an MFA degree from The Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches poetry classes at Siena College. His poems are forthcoming or have been published in the Acentos Review, Mobius, Word Riot, The Pine Hills Review, The Homework Project and the anthology It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip Hop. In 2014, Reyes served on a panel entitled "Uncovering Hip Hop Poetry" at the AWP Conference. Reyes also explores the role of activism in art evidenced in his essay "A Personal Journey for Justice," published by the feminist blog She Breathes. Blending his writing and activism, Reyes has also been the executive director of The Social Justice Center of Albany (SJC) for the past 10 years.