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Prince

'This Thing Called Life'

Poetry Inspired by the
Music and Spirit of Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson
1958-2016

 

Cacayo
Poem

About the Poet

Cacayo (José R. Ballesteros, Quito, Ecuador) is the Steven Muller Distinguished Professor of the Arts at St. Mary's College of Maryland.  

Cacayo’s poetry has been published in several journals in the U.S. and Europe and has been anthologized in Al Pie de La Casa Blanca: Poetas Hispanos de Washington, DC (Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española, 2010). 

His first book of poems Lovedust/Polvo enamorado (Izote Press), was published in early 2014. He is a co-author of the Spanish literary anthology Voces de España (Cenage, 2013).

He is a translator of poetry including Marcial Molina Richter’s The Word of the Dead (Lluvia Editores, Perú). 

Cacayo is also the owner and chief editor of Zozobra Publishing, a bilingual literary press dedicated to publishing the work of Latinx poets writing in Spanish in the U.S. 


Spring 2017 »

El Prince
by Cacayo
  A triptych in memory of Prince Rogers Nelson and of the
legendary Blues Bar in Quito, Ecuador, in the 1980s.
 


I. Electric Word

at 15 you need all your senses
crossing La Carolina park
at two in the morning
you have to run, pendejo
swallow hard so your heart
won't pop out your mouth
walkman in your brain
shit, run-man in your brain
playing let's go crazy
playing

So when you call up that shrink
in Beverly Hills
You know the one,
Dr. Everything'll-Be-Alright

and then you
take off
buck wild
wild thing
a child
wild child
runnin'
passed

junkies, whores,
junkies, whores,
junkies, whores,
thieves, thieves, thieves, thieves,
junkies, whores,
junkies, whores

hoping not to get

robbed/raped
robbed/raped
robbed/raped
stabbed-stabbed-stabbed-stabbed

You see I called my old lady
For a friendly word
She picked up the phone
Dropped it on the floor
(Ah, ah) is all I heard

a fatherless highrise
pounding in your head
praying to some idea of God
that little sister is asleep
younger brother looking
through a kicked in wood door
waiting for his momma's
giving face to emerge
from her new man's groin
so he can turn you in
yelling
Mommmmmm...?!
Cacayo jumped out
the window againnnn....

And when we do
What's it all for
You better live now
Before the grim reaper
come knocking on your door

hoping not to get
robbed/raped
robbed/raped
stabbed-stabbed-stabbed-stabbed

just get to the headlights
past the pine trees
and search the sidewalk
for a cigarette butt's
worth of swagger
like you didn't just run
the fastest half-mile any
pendejo
ever ran
at
9000
feet

altitude



II. Kiss Interlude

there it is
white garage door purgatory
El Blues
Janus at the gate barking
no way, pendejo
your cousin's on a bender
been here all week
get him the fuck out
and I'll think about
letting you stay

at coat check
you say goodbye
to your only friend
last week it was your watch
just more shit from the States
your father sends you
you hawk for whiskey
at the cash register
at dawn

you come
alone
everybody is lonely here
at the Blues
especially the peladas
in the red velvet lounge
to the left, to the left
drunk on scotch and soda
high on executives
with gold-plated wedding
fingers
and tailor made
noses
that glisten like a
Coke is it!
billboard
at the Blues Bar

not for you
a pipsqueak
at 15
coming in at a little over
120 pounds
5 feet
give or take an inch
you don't have to give
the cojudos
who won't give you the dope
you don't have the
huevos
to
buy

remember...
you and your degenerate
little breakfast club
stole it your first time
German shepherd
backyard in Guápulo
low walls near the cathedral
got so high
you flashed the girls
on the second floor
of the catholic school
that looks over Lolo's house
when the teacher spotted
what the fussin' was about
she just shooed the girls
away from the window
vamos, señoritas, vamos
like
no
big
deal

at El Blues the likes of you
wait around in the corners
until your butt of a joke
is summoned
by the city's swarthy older brothers
and hip chicks stoned
on permission to be out all night
all Chaneled No. 5 and Madonnad
headed to breakfast in the morning
to the Intercontinental
put it on daddy's tab

JC spots you and nods
what's up carita de verga
your cousin just got thrown out
kicked some banker in the face
this round's on me
but that's it
I'll give you a ride home
he says
don't worry
I won't try to feel you up this time
and you shoot back
I thought your big
brother was the meco in the family
and he heads toward you
come
here
maricón

then
the funky little strum
at the beginning of
Kiss
saves your ass
from the first sign of gangrene
of the night's many regrets
and you and every other boy
like lunatic and deserted debutants
hit the dance floor
half empty message in a bottle
highball glass in hand
to stake your territory
the only place ever
in Quito
so, on earth
where you can dance in public
alone
where you don't need the nerve
to make the only girls not dancing
reject
the
last
flight
out
of your Fantasy Island of despair
your falsetto eyes closed
doing something akin to dancing
you,

El Prince

starring in your own MTV video
Mariachi like pants
cutoff tank top with gold buttons
courting a black veiled
white angel of death
in panties, a bra, and sunglasses
accompanied by your own
personal guitarist
making funny faces about you
knowing that you're so cocky
you'll just keep doing
your own sweet thing
shirtless
with a chain and crucifix
in highheeled boots
one armed push up moves
letting coy girls
made of marble know
that it’s totally ok
if they're not cool too
hysterically
until the final refrain

You don't have to be rich
to be my girl
You don't have to be cool
to rule my world
Aint no particular sign
I'm more compatible with
I just want your extra time
and your...

Kiss

after which
all the lonely boys in the world
return to drink at the bar
for the rest of the night
for the rest of their lives



III. De-Elevator

back on earth
JC
pulls out
fucked up
and at the first light
you find yourself
in the cool leather of his family car
and begin to get comfortable
until he veers over
by the park

he looks at you
cockeyed
his hand grazes your thigh
on its way to the glove box
from where he takes out
a
gun

then his fingers fumble
around the ashtray
and grab a bullet
he puts in the cylinder
you feel stuck
like on a roll, roll
roller coaster ride
then JC closes it
and spins
and in slow broken
English
he slurs

Let's go cra/zy
Let's get nuts
Look for the pur/ple banana
Un/til they put/us/ in/ the/ truck

he stares through you
with the saddest eyes
you've ever seen
making you think
it's been two years
since his brother fell out
a penthouse window
with an ocean view

then
he puts the gun
in his mouth
and pulls the trigger

click

you scream so hard
tears pop out your eyes
as you jump out the car
into the cold night air
that cuts your lungs
like a long drag
while you walk away
fast
as he peels off

and there you are
alone
at the edge of La Carolina park
brain saying
just another Saturday
so that your knees
don't give out
staring into the lion's den
again
¡carajo!
when just around the corner
of your mind
you stumble onto
enough words
to tell yourself
what needs
to be done
breath
pendejo
you
got
this
be home in no time
you
are

El Prince

and you know
what you gotta do
so you unbutton
your shirt
and
in the name of
the
father
son
and wholly
mother
fucking
spirit
take your crucifix
and give it one last
kiss
saying
under your breath

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life

and you run
you run
like never again
passed

whores, junkies,
whores, junkies,
whores, junkies,
thieves, thieves, thieves, thieves,
whores, junkies,
whores, junkies,

hoping not to get

raped/robbed
raped/robbed
raped/robbed
stabbed-stabbed-stabbed-stabbed

past
every living soul
in the park
and every sleepless
neighbor on your block
passed the 4B call button
passed pleas to your mother
to let you in
passed your sleeping sister
passed your fatherless brother's
smirk from your mother's
queen size bed
passed what you have to say
for yourself
insoportable
desgraciado
sinvergüenza
all the way down the hall
passed your mother
her folded arms
pushing up plump breasts
naked under her night shirt
¡cochino!
passed the shame of her
watching you strip down
to your socks and underwear
until you crawl into bed
and stick your head
under the pillow
and feel her
leave
and you can finally
be
alone
to begin
your
looped
prayer

Hang tough children
He's coming
He's coming
Coming
Take me away

 

 

~

Cacayo ~

 

 

 

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