Creative Submissions

before they arrived


Written By: Sydney Valerio

before they arrived

el zapatero y el barbero

used to be part of people’s weekly routine

I’d watch the regulars go into their shops from my window

in the round building on the corner across the street


before they moved into my block

they’d have to confirm with their mom and pops

how they would spot them the monthly extra thousand dollars

they’d need to complete their rent because getting this place ensured

they’d have a residence, a second place

              heavily relying on their parents’ credit check

   so as to keep them out of their basement


before the zapatero and barbero closed

the regulars thought:


“It’s okay, I will get new shoes where I buy my clothes.”

“Tato, I will go to the other barbero down by the train or right up the block…”

“Wait, that barbero is also closed.”


before they arrived


the places

the services

the access to food

all were drained

the schools, oh my,

even the schools

had whisperings

of “if you stay,

you’re a fool”

and the residents

became distraught

felt abandoned


as a desert was created right in front of their faces.


‘There goes the neighborhood, Mami, you better keep your place!’

it became attractive and appetizing with

a rent that is what Mami pays times three

of course the landlords

are welcoming to those who are called the gentry.

Sydney Valerio, born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, enjoys focusing on the socio-cultural aspects of life that shape our perspective. In 2015, she joined the spoken word performance community as a member of the Full Circle Ensemble. She is an M.F.A. student at the City College of New York. She has performed in the National Black theater, the Bronx Museum of Arts and most recently, her one woman show “Matters” sold out at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. She has an extended encore performance on February 25, 2017 at the National Black Theater. Her first print publication will be featured in the Mujeres, The Magic, The Movement and The Muse Anthology of Women Writers book published by Peggy Robles-Alvarado. Visit her website for more info:




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