Two Poems by Maritza Rivera

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Advocacy

There are needs that exist
but no one sees them.

There is pain that exists
but no one feels it.

There is poverty all around us
that no amount of money can cure.

We are all born equal but then
life and circumstances happen.

We turn away from those who
live in poverty, have no homes, no jobs,
no legs to stand on, as if we were immune
to the impact of so many injustices.

Yet our thoughts and prayers go out
to all those unfortunate ones

as if thoughts and prayer
could pay their rent and utilities
as if they were on some distant continent.

As if they were not our neighbors
or sitting in the pew next to us
in church on Sundays, or on the Metro
going to or returning from work
or standing next to us at the Wall
on the National Mall on Memorial Day.

These are our Earth Angels,
the people put on our path,
to help us rise to the occasion

that if we don’t look the other way
and help them up instead,
we will earn our wings in heaven.

Blessing our Boats

Today we become boats
vessels on a voyage
on the ocean of life.

Our boats carry cargo in their bellies:
traditions, stories, family secrets…

and whether we know who they are or not,
we carry the struggles and sacrifices
of our ancestors in our souls.

Our lives honor our ancestors
for without them, we would not be
and without us, their purpose in life
would be lost for we are their purpose.

We carry their ancestral memories
like stars that guide our journey.

Join me in the quest
for the truth that lives
within each of us.

Let us each bless our own boat
with the name that identifies who we are.

I christen my boat:
Maritza Rivera Rosario
Torres Mendez Sanchez
Ayala Zayas Cruz

Maritza Rivera is a Puerto Rican poet and Army veteran who resides in Rockville, MD and San Juan, PR. She has been writing poetry for over fifty years and is the creator of a short form of poetry called Blackjack. Maritza is the author of About You; A Mother’s War; Baker’s Dozen; Twenty-One: Blackjack Poems and the Blackjack Poetry Playing Cards. Since 2011, she hosts the Mariposa Poetry Retreat and the Mariposa Reunion Reading. Her work appears in literary magazines, online publications and the public arts project, Meet Me At the Triangle located in Wheaton, MD. In 2022 Maritza and Jeffery Banks co-edited Diaspora Café: DC, an Afro-LatinX anthology published by Day Eight. In 2023, she translated the poetry collection, Inquilinos Mudos/Silent Tenants by Alberto Roblest from Spanish into English.

These poems were supported by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of Latino Affairs and through a retreat for Afro-Latin poets produced April 15, 2023 by Day Eight, directed by Jeffrey Banks and Maritza Rivera.

Image: Isaac Sprague, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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