Puerto Rico on American Time

We don't need no stinking worker class

Note — I have not done this out of country thing for a long time. I used to travel when it was $10 a day, when sleepy fishing villages were villages and sleepy, when you could hitchhike to Panama from Nogales. Later days, really.

These 57 years of living have SEEN a whole lot, sometimes enough. So, saved up for honeymoon, postponed a year: in Puerto Rico for a week and then St. John Virgin Islands for another week. Of course, I am pumped up with stories, articles, poems, dirges, the whole nine yards.

This is a poem, but not really — just screwed up tabbing and indenting. In reality, I will be pushing this trip many, many times in DV columns. Who woulda thunk PR and American VI would be microcosms of climate change, the One Percent and their 10 and 15 percenter back-up teams? Wealth, USA exceptionalism, the absurdity of the endless summer for some and the decades of pain for others.

Talked a lot to Puerto Ricans, the Island of Burger King. Mental health flagging…. well, think 70 percent of the island, tied to that hard wealth of the few and the struggle of the many, and the colonialism, the US parent nanny state.

Been reading a collection of work, Boricuas – Infuentual Puerto Rican writings, and Chasing Che, by Patrick Symmes. Both done in the 1990s, when real writing seemed to zenith and then, well, nose dive into theses endless cultural yuppie Fuck-You-Book nonsense.  I’ll be talking about those books too.

But first, some riffing, written a week ago, Sat., and I am just now posting it from Concordia, an eco-resort (sort of) on the island of St. John.

Think of  this as Part One of 70 parts. Oh yeah, a new novel, starting, a take on 100 years of Solitude — Sixty Years of Darkness — my wife came up with the title, since I am a very-very dark person on the average Richter scale.

Puerto Rico on American Time

they say no more burger king
viva la independencia
Puerto Rico on July 4
the guards and cops on
Harleys, Princess Cruisers
protected by flak jackets
gracias adios, Zionists
9 mm gracias adios, Smith
and Wesson
burly weight, steady hands
these guys are centurions
Creoles and Columbus-splayed
pelugas, fleas to 24-hour fitness
Puerto Rico gusanos, they
are the future-past
one thousand years of darkness
the twenty year old guys
scream at their people, pendejos
afraid, man, why can’t we
be like Mexico
fight against these rich fuckers
they just want to get knocked up
age 16, two kids, and get on welfare
no sense of time, history like
Mexico, Zapata, Pancho Villa
we don’t need no stinking gringos
Ah, guayguay, enchanted Puerto Rico
give us your Tio Sam, Israeli security
tools, those no way Jose enchanted
islanders giving it up to Spain
Teddy big stick Yankee, old señor
Truman and jefe Dwight
Independence? what about my
whopper, smooth plastic shit
wrapped up from the USA
where are those workers
where are those radicals
all cocooned in neoliberalism
there is no history in the McNugget
ESPN the new church
your men like dogs
sniffing the armpits of Chase
ass crack of the Goldman Sachs
world bank , puertoriquenas
the salsa no es picante
Heinz 57 in una Cuba libra
there are dogs living under them, cars
lifted up to stay flat
on street corners where
Americanos go on rum tours
guys my age rushing into traffic
peddling Nestle water, Oreos
guys in the middle of the bourgeois
Old San Juan, the ramparts shadowing
big fat Baskin Robbins
selling a pose with his iguana
El Che, the silver snake ready for
ham-fisted Forty-Niners dad
this guy a charmer of old
now schizoid tourist danger
fat wads of credit cards, evil
in skinned potatoes, white pink speckled
death a la gringo
I met Noel, Virgin tattooed on his back
living in Nissan Sentra, cardboard
the shade, his esposa moving the seat for a siesta
he was there, ripped on Busch
but eagle eyed, eagle brained
knew where the coffee plantation was
wished me and my wife good speed
nothing more than his story, his want
an ear, gringo, si, but out the rent-a-car
looking at Yauco fields, ranchera
ghosts,  he never was borne
for one foot on this island
one foot in USA grave
Noel with knife scars, umbilical
tied to Jesus Cristo and steel
living outside gulag of economics
this is the face of the now, the future
Puerto Rico, five-block facades, tourist
zones in Ponce, in places all over this island
broken by Catholic steel, gods of cannon
Dutch, Spanish, Yankees, this godforsaken
place now, back door, neo-liberalism
the capitalism of just enough haves
to smear out the rest of us
shuttered schools
fallen roofs, the island is microcosm
fast-food, island drug workers
a seventy percent insanity rate
so many-so few with disposable income
fannies flabby, so many diamonds
they watch them watch the watchers
the meek and poor shall inherit shit
trickle down, collateral damage
even dirt ass poor PR
wads of US fed ink ain’t
enough so you import workers
plugged into the hand-held world of Zuckerberg
viva la Zionists, each gigaton of giga-nothingness
surfed on their Puerto Rico island
nothing to do here but peddle — tourism, endless
backroom cafes, the street vending
nothing here but slips for container ships
more cars per capita than any other place
more suicides, AIDS, poverty
words not etched in the museos, the cultural
weepy places of gild and mold
so many tied to the states
fathers who fought for Yankee Go Home
WW Two, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf One-Two-Three
infinity, more fascists in the making, more rot gut
cartoons, jumping salsa bands, Puerto Rico, conquered
the neo-liberal island of the now, the future
McDonald’s and Ronald House for Kids
more gastrointestinal ailments
this is it, the future is now, Greece, Somalia, You Name It
USA, everything good shuttered
the rich and their toys
the servers of the rich
the professional middle and upper middle class
every single  dollar captured to splay the poor
to hurdle the artists, the teachers, the dreamers
the endless turnstile of greenbacks
sell-sell-sell, so the history of the place
is a fat calorie-filled delight
10 at night, the cruise ship lit up like
USS Obama, the cowboy-loving tourists
emptying out like rats, red-faced
neon glow, rats, and the Puerto Ricans?
the rich are rich, and the poor, well, those
Zionists sell good hardware, star
of David stenciled on tear gas canister
worthless apps but ahh nanosecond
profits stuffed in jowls of JP Morgan, Greenspan
pals, they get the handcuffs, get
who butters which side of actuaries
but in Puerto Rico we get coconuts
imported from Thai-Wal-landia
Boriqueno, co-opted, colonized, consumerized
the face of revolutions now Revelon
the music the grita
history screened, idled, washed away
there are stories of resistance, bombs
no stinking Yankees, Truman die
you rotten gun boat blonde devils
there are, there are
tomorrow is the hurricane
capital-drones-dengue fever
the island of toppled corals
rum by the gallon
imported coconut milk
pineapples from
tomorrow, another day
the split dna, africa-Iberia- Taino
open wound of mother catholic
Espana, open wound of the missile
no more salsa, just a jumble
Spanglish, where oh where are you
Victor Hernandez Cruz
in you Rita Moreno mambo

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.