Pegao by Dimitri Reyes

Did you hear         Did you see         Have you seen         Did you know

   Four apartments           the store            the restaurant                      and bar
                                             the typically happy place

Cuatro apartamentos                 La bodega                   El Bachatipico
    a mound of rubble           a mound of rice               fell asleep while cooking
                             El bachatipico was closed   

Oil left in the frying pans         fell asleep while cooking              aceite
   dormido                  en el caldero          waiting to be lit

                               Did you hear                                     alarms

The alarms sounding like the trucks
          the alarms sounding like the people

                              Did you see                       el fuego

                                        the lighting of the stove
                                                   the street corner a stove
                               Cuatro familias
a mound of rice turned with a spoon
                                                   like matchsticks
                                                   like pegao among the short grains

                             Have you seen

     a flame retardant mattress,
             folded under rubble.
                                      The untouched pink princess plastics        an easy bake oven
                         el horno on HIGH

Empty gallons of oil
            refrigerators                  ashes of arroz                sliced bread                  milk
    lit cigarettes        lotto tickets   

                        the many plastic cubbies at the front of the store that held it all together

            Did you hear
the four apartments
                                                       Did you see
                                                  El Bachatipico
                                      the mounds of rice burnt black            Have you seen
                                                                                                 her easy bake oven
                                                                                              the still-intact mattresses
                                                 Did you know
                                              the dusty storefront mats
                                            the bacardi dancefloors
                                                                          the people
                                                       the fire




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“Pegao” was written after experiencing the demolition of a burnt building that displaced 4 families, a restaurant, and a bodega. El Bachatipico was the restaurant and night club that was a well-known hangout in the North Newark section. In this poem the loss of these landmarks mark not only a loss of property, home, and commerce, but represents the loss of important communal spaces for the community.

Dimitri Reyes is a Puerto-Vegan educator, writer, artist, and community organizer from Newark, New Jersey. His work has been recognized locally in the Star Ledger and internationally in Australia, Singapore, and the UK. He is the recipient of Slice Literary's 2017 Bridging the Gap Award for Emerging Poets and a finalist for the Arcturus Poetry Prize by the Chicago Review of Books. Dimitri is a candidate in the Rutgers- Newark MFA program and is published  in Acentos Review, Radius, Verity LA, Eunoia, and others. 

You can see him expanding the poetry community on his youtube channel here: