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About this poet

Sandra María Esteves was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She is the author of Bluestown Mockinbird Mambo (Arte Publico Press, 1990) and Yerba Buena (Greenfield Review, 1980). A member of the Nuyorican movement, Esteves is a founding poet of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and the former executive director of the African Caribbean Poetry Theater. She received a poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 1985. She has served as a teaching artist for over thirty years and has conducted literary programs for the Bronx Council on the Arts, El Museo del Barrio, and the New York City Board of Education, among other educational institutions. She lives in the Bronx.

Sistas

Nina Simone, Celia Cruz, Billie Holiday, and Bessie
were all sistas growin’ up,
keepin’ her company through only-child-blues.
Afternoons spent laughin’, cryin’, dancin’ motown gold,
harmonizin’ are-’n-be teen sweet melodies.

Aretha Franklin, La Lupe, Diana and the Supremes
stayed up nights at heartbreak hotel,
rappin’ real close moonshine doo-waps,
patiently riffin’ their lines till she learned all the words.
Takin’ it higher,
hittin’ all the notes home.

Ronnie Scepter and Gladys Knight hung out too.
The first time ever she heard Roberta Flack,
knew they were fruit from the same feelin’ tree.
How they loved her madly, without even tryin’.
Didn’t have to be nobody. Didn’t need to prove.
They never got tired, or complained about the volume,
or even cared who was listenin’.
Always by her side, no matter what.
Tight for days.
Gettin’ it on. Gettin’ down.

Sistas all the way.

From Bluestown Mockingbird Mambo (Arte Publico Press, 1990). Copyright © 1990 by Sandra María Esteves. Used with the permission of the author.

From Bluestown Mockingbird Mambo (Arte Publico Press, 1990). Copyright © 1990 by Sandra María Esteves. Used with the permission of the author.

Sandra María Esteves

Sandra María Esteves

Sandra María Esteves is the author of Bluestown Mockinbird Mambo (Arte Publico Press, 1990) and Yerba Buena (Greenfield Review, 1980). A member of the Nuyorican movement, she lives in the Bronx.

by this poet

poem

Being Puertorriqueña-Dominicana
Borinqueña-Quisqueyana
Taina-Africana
Born in the Bronx. Not really jíbara
Not really hablando bien
But yet, not gringa either
Pero ni portorra
Pero sí, portorra too
Pero ni qué what am I? Y qué soy?
Pero con what voice do my lips move?

poem

for Lela

Half blue, feet first
she battled into the world.
Hardly surviving the blood cord twice wrapped,
tense around her neck. Hanging.
Womb pressing, pushing,
pulling life from mother’s child.
Fragil flesh emerging perfect in blueness,
like the lifeline that

poem

weaver
weave us a song of many threads

weave us a red of fire and blood
that taste of sweet plum
fishing around the memories of the dead
following a scent wounded
our spines bleeding with pain

weave us a red of passion
that beats wings against a smoky cloud
and forces