Elisabet Velasquez, 2017 Poets House Emerging Poets Fellow
Self Portrait Of America As A Revival
Mami never misses a revival. It is a chance to pray to dead things like her marriage. Her body, a thing she carries like a cross. In America the police kill men sometimes. They do not bring them back to life. They still want to be called God. I am a poet obsessed with learning a holy language. A language that is not white. I only speak in color. In Brooklyn. In resurrection. I am a girl who cannot drown. This makes them call me witch. I make them call me baptized. I come from hell before the flame was gentrified. I still remember when the block was hot. The Bible teaches me to brag of riches even if I am broke. even if I must die to see it. Which is to say - I own a piece of heaven on layaway. In Brooklyn a revival is held in the deadliest part of town. Tonight heaven is a bank. Tonight someone will cash out. Tonight we only praise the living. Tomorrow the news is our bible. Tomorrow another god is dead. Tomorrow a street corner lights a dozen candles. Tomorrow a wall takes the shape of a face. Tomorrow a tee shirt is turned memorial. This is how we resurrect the dead. Next week a mother joins a march to save her children. She marches like a commandment. She dares you to break her. Her children will know no other god before her. Her face heavy and wooden. An arc amidst a flood of bodies. At revivals, we praise the living. At revivals, we dare you to find a tomb to house our gods.
Elisabet Velasquez is a Puerto Rican writer, mother, feminist from Bushwick, Brooklyn. Her work has been nominated for Best Of The Net. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications including Huffington Post, Muzzle, Latina and Vibe Magazine. She is a VONA alum and the author of the chapbook PTSD. You can find her online at ElisabetVelasquez.com.