Creative Submissions

Refusing the Melting Pot

Photo by Arleen Santana

Written By: Henry Gonzalez


This piece is accompanied by an article, click here to read it.
Growing up in the Bronx,

I admit that it was hard for me

to love those blocks,

that never had as many parks

as empty fenced-off lots,

and my mama couldn’t

trust the schools

were a good place to

be taught.


Those blocks where

Halloween was one of the scariest

days of the year, and at all costs

we had to keep the door locked.


To this day

I don’t enjoy the holiday

I prefer my candy store bought.

It was hard for me to love

that Section 8 apartment,

filled with roaches,

that no amount of traps or poison

could stop.


I think I’ll always hate them

for the many ruined

cereal box.

I loved the car we had,

til it got jacked and stripped for parts.
The cops later found its empty carcass,

told us we should probably

find a better place to park.
It was hard for me to love those blocks,

that never had as many parks

as empty fenced-off lots,


but I was grateful for the men

who gave me pastelitos and frío-fríos,

even when I didn’t have enough change.



For my Dominican barber,

who always bought me M&M’s

if I sat still and behaved.


I was grateful for the bodegueros

who treated me well,

and knew me by name.

For the babysitter who didn’t charge

my mom more when she got off

from work late.



gentrifiers have been

coming into the Bronx

after decades where our borough

was left in the hard knocks.


It’s raising rents and closing businesses,

but it’s our community that really suffers,

as we slowly get displaced into White America’s

abandoned suburbs.

Our lives made further diasporic,

coming to feel singular and outnumbered.

A culture scattered, lost

to hegemonic urban planners.

For all my life,
it’s been hard for me to love those blocks,

but I grew up in the Bronx,

and I don’t want us to lose ourselves

in America’s

white-washed melting pot.

About the author:
Born and raised in New York City, Henry Gonzalez is a Dominican-American spoken word poet, essayist, and community organizer.  At age 15, the effects of the Great Recession pushed his family to move into the conservative suburbs of Northern Virginia. From that point on, his art has been incubated in the DC Slam Circuit and NYC Spoken Word scene, having performed at venues such as the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Busboys and Poets, and The Kennedy Center. Deeply influenced by Jazz and Hip-hop, he tries to infuse his poetry with heavy rhythms and emotion. He is currently a student at Deep Springs College in California, a two-year program for 28 students who form a self-governing community, operate a cattle ranch, and study liberal arts, while living in an isolated desert valley.



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