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JORGE LUIS BERRIOS —PUERTO RICO—



Jorge Luis Berrios is a Boricua poet, MC, and spoken word artist based in New York City. He also has extensive experience as an actor, writer, and director. Since 2017, Berrios has performed his poetry in multiple venues in the city and online, sharing his work with audiences worldwide. As a CRNY resident artist at El Puente, a storied community organization focused in social justice, he produces "Encuentros", a series of events aimed at building community, healing and inspiration among artists, residents and people attending the gatherings. Berrios collaborates with visual and performing artists for “Encuentros”. He is currently producing a series called “Decolonizing the Conscience" as part of these events focused on legacy, identity and self determination.


Circles, Lines, Legacy


Circles, lines, drums

Sounds, words, legacy.

Some lines constant, some that are broken…

Some lines straight, some interrupted…


My line is apparently broken

And as I see the circle of drums

Announcing an uninterrupted line

A line of words, of sounds, of shouts…

My heart bleeds, my memory struggles

In search of memories lost…


My encounters with memories past

Carries the grief of forgetting

The resilience of my ancestors

In a struggle for survival.


Battling…

Facing the oppression of colonizers

Hurting from a wound instilled in the past

That continuously pierces the soul in the present.


A line being rebuilt in connections

Self assured, self determined, self pronounced…

The line comes back in a circle

A circle guided by a stone in the center…

A guide to dancers, music and shouts

In an areyto that persists in the present;

An energy that I felt.


There, in the circle,

My heart and soul participate of the ceremony

My ears don’t hear the mayohabao

My eyes don’t see the circle of dancers in the batey

But there’s a feeling that grows as I get closer to that circle

There is an understanding of what happens inside

That goes beyond the things my mind can think


Beyond what my fingers can write.

The line is there, in my soul, in my past

In the loud shout of my ancestors over the immeasurable time.


There was once a poem in the works

It was a rap, or a song, or a story…

It is still there…

Buried within the depths of my mind

It may not come to life in a rap, or a song, or a story

But this breath is a brushstroke that survives

That overcomes the repression of a whitewashed history.


Among candles, spirits, fire I search

Murky path, blood and sand mixed in it

Walking on a long, uphill route, difficult way

I’ve decided to go, plant a seed

Go on my way, do what I can

Write and re-write, leave my footsteps

My note in this journey of life.


Getting inspiration from a line drawn from the past

That I feel in some part of my body, of my soul

A line that ends up with me writing

A line drawn from the past to my soul

From the soul to my pencil

From the pencil to the paper and back to my mind

For it to go back into my mouth

Spitting words on a mic

Spitting poetry

Spitting truth

My truth.


Union Square


It’s cold outside,

and I'm quiet at home ......

Afuera hay un ritmo que se mueve,

que me seduce.

The temperature rises…

and the flow of freedom

is felt in the air.

A Caribbean breeze

rushes down my face ,

it comes from Jamaica,

sounds in Havana,

moves in Puerto Rico.

I hear the tones …

Tatata tata …

I sweat,

the heat, the sweat, the steam

reminds me of América Latina,

the rhythm moves within me.

I want to be me,

ponerme la puca,

beber vino en la playa.

Cantar mientras bebo,

read poetry,

write poetry,

do poetry …

I feel the delicious rhythm of salsa,

la melancolía de la bohemia..

Latino flavor

that becomes music,

that moves,

That is brought in the wind

with the ashes of the Montserrat.

I'm at home,

but my legs tremble,

se mueven solas,

quieren bailar batucada, bomba, plena.

El sonido se siente,

This is real.

El negro sabor de Latinoamérica

Ha llegado a New York.

I can feel it,

permeating the streets of the West Village,

of Union Square.

Resounding on the voice of the Nuyorrican Poets

Los vientos del sur

han llegado a Nueva York...

But I'm still at home,

and while my legs are shaking

I am drinking an "English Tea."

Jorge Luis Berrios

Lenapehoking (Brooklyn, NY)

August 28, 2023


Union Square

Hace frío afuera

Y yo estoy quieto, en casa...

Afuera hay un ritmo que se mueve,

que me seduce.

La temperatura sube

y la energía de la libertad

se siente en el aire.

Una brisa del Caribe

Azota mi cara,

viene desde Jamaica,

suena en La Habana,

se mueve en Puerto Rico.

Escucho los tonos...

Tatata tata...

Sudo,

El calor me recuerda a América Latina,

el ritmo se mueve dentro de mi.

Quiero ser yo,

ponerme la puca,

beber vino en la playa.

Cantar mientras bebo,

leer poesía,

escribir poesía,

hacer poesía...

Siento el ritmo sabroso de la salsa,

la melancolía de la bohemia.

Sabor latino

que se convierte en música,

que se mueve,

que viene arrastrada en el viento

junto a las cenizas del Monserrat.

Estoy en casa,

pero las piernas me tiemblan,

se mueven solas,

quiero bailar batucada, bomba, plena.

El sonido se siente, es real.

El negro sabor de Latino América

ha llegado a New York.

Lo puedo sentir,

permea las calles del West Village,

de Union Square.

Los vientos del sur

han llegado a New York...

Más yo sigo en casa,

y mientras las piernas me tiemblan

yo me tomo un "English Tea".

Jorge Luis Berrios

Brooklyn, NY

Enero 2, 2011


Created by Love (Spanglish interpretation of Un Mundo Justo)


I know we could’ve built “un mundo justo”

A just country, a fair barrio,

Where the air and lungs breathe equity

Where the races were not separated into colors:

Green, Blue, Yellow, Red…

Un barrio where you can breathe clean air

A country where hunger doesn’t exist

A world where cultures meet...

Where the only conquest is peace,

Where united, we appreciate diversity…

But the land was betrayed,

Passed from hand to hand, at convenience.

There dry trees, death, hunger, yellow, red...

On the other side abundance, freshness, peace, blue, green...

There the classic, here the folkloric,

There the great, here what remains,

There… …peace, here… …war…

Carefully we get together...

The air has been sold and the water run out.

The houses destroyed...

Open veins bleeding oblivion...

Where once upon a time “pan de agua” flowed

Now there is tar for colorful cars

That don't look down to avoid seeing the pain

Of the tears of children with hearts of coffee and cane.

Those cars where the air is clean

And the path leads you to a boardwalk

Adorned by flowers that the children of the cane

can only imagine.

I know the just form can be built…

La forma justa…

I have seen it in dreams, in fantasies, painting...

I have seen it in the smile of a child who dances

In the poetry of a young man who wears a skirt

In the embrace of a cornered heart

In the beat of a drum damp with tears of hope.

I have seen the shouts of liberty piercing the walls,

I have sat in dreams that conquer time and space...

I’ve embraced a fair society (in my dream)

And all these stories have been created by artists.

An army of angels with brushes

That move creating worlds of “pan de azúcar”,

That in the ruins of tar build flowers made of songs.

Creating with pencils, poetry for white empty walls.

Worlds shaking on hips

That moved the colors and mixed them.

That army imagines, creates, builds freedom.

Those beings of love are soldiers.

Artists of the world creating love, opportunity

The full vision, the right form, the right way…

Reconstructing a world created in poetry

A fair barrio, a just country, “un mundo justo”.

Created by dreams, created by love.






Un Mundo Justo

“Si nada adolece, la propia forma es justa”

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen

Se que se pudo construir un mundo justo

Un país justo, un barrio justo,

Donde el aire y los pulmones respiraran equidad

Donde la raza no fuera separada en colores:

Verde, Azul, Amarillo, Rojo…

Un barrio donde se respira el aire limpio

Un país donde no existe el hambre

Un mundo donde se encuentran las culturas…

Donde la única conquista es la paz,

Donde unidos, apreciamos la diversidad…

Pero la tierra fue traicionada,

Pasada de mano en mano, a conveniencia.

Allá árbol seco, muerte, hambre, amarillo, rojo…

Acá abundancia, frescura, paz, azul, verde…

Allá lo clásico, acá lo folclórico,

Allá lo grande, acá lo que queda,

Alla la paz, acá la guerra…

Nos juntamos con cuidado…

El aire se ha vendido y el agua se ha terminado.

Las casas destruidas…

Venas abiertas sangrando olvido…

Por donde una vez pasaba pan de agua

Ahora hay brea para carrozas de colores

Que no miran hacia abajo para no ver la pena

Que lloran los niños con corazones de café y caña.

Esas carrozas donde el aire es limpio

Y el camino te conduce a un paseo de madera

Adornado por flores que los niños de la caña

solo pueden imaginar.

Se que se puede construir la forma justa.

Lo he visto en sueños, fantasías, en pintura…

Lo he visto en la sonrisa de un niño que baila

En la poesía de un joven que usa falda

En el abrazo a un corazón acorralado

En el azote de un tambor mojado de lagrimas de esperanza.

He visto gritos de libertad que traspasan paredes,

Me he sentado en sueños que superan el tiempo y el espacio…

He abrazado a una sociedad justa (en mi sueño)

Y todas estas historias han sido creadas por artistas.

Un ejercito de ángeles con pinceles

Que van creando mundos de pan de azúcar,

Que en las ruinas de brea construyen flores de canción.

Creando con lápices, poesías para paredes en blanco.

Mundos en caderas movedizas

Que menearon los colores y los mezclaron.

Ese ejercito imagina, crea, construye libertad.

Esos seres de amor, son militantes.

Artistas del mundo creando amor, oportunidad

La visión plena, la forma justa…

Reconstruyendo de un mundo creado en poesía

Un barrio justo, un país justo, un mundo justo.

Creado por sueños, creado por amor.


Metamorfosis Infinita


Somos de las esquinas

Ángulos rectos, agudos, obtusos,

Siempre cambiantes.

Testigos de haditas blancas,

Observadores de Angeles negros.

Seres de cambio y resistencia...

...de transformación.

Acomodándonos y resistiendo

Pero siempre cambiando la piel.

Animal blanco que se posa en la nada,

Animal negro que baja del cielo.

Blanco, gris, negro..

Gradaciones...

Distintas pero lo mismo,

Partes de la misma escala

O seres totalmente opuestos.

Todo depende,

Cuestión de perspectiva

Asunto de potencia

O del ángulo de La Luz.

Baile con formas

O libre y abstracto.

Creación de cuerpos en contacto.

Alcanzando armonías

Superando fronteras.

Somos heridas, cicatrices, tatuajes.

Seguimos adelante

Pero la cicatriz queda...

...tatuaje, herida, cicatriz.

No nos frena el dolor,

Cargamos con él

Y seguimos caminando.

Cambia el paso,

Cambia el cuerpo,

Cambia la piel,

Cambia el lenguaje,

Cambia el fondo,

Cambia la forma,

Pero seguimos siendo,

Siendo los mismos...

En nueva piel,

Nuevo ritmo,

Nuevo objeto,

Nuevos tonos,

Nuevos acentos,

Nuevas claves...

Nosotros,

Los mismos y siempre cambiantes...

Volando al infinito...

Mariposas eternas…




Infinite Metamorphosis


We are from the corners.

Right, acute, obtuse angles,

Always changing.

Witnesses of white fairies,

Observers of black angels.

Beings of change and resistance ...

... of transformation.

Adapting and resisting

And always shedding the skin.

White beast standing in the nothing,

Black beast coming down from the sky.

White, gray, black ..

Tones, shades, hues ...

Different but the same,

Parts of the same scale

Or totally opposite beings.

It all depends,

A matter of perspective

A thing of power

Or the angle of the Light.

Dancing with form

Or free form and abstract.

Creation of the bodies in contact.

Reaching harmonies

Overcoming borders.

We are wounds, scars, tattoos.

We keep going

But the scar remains ...

... tattoo, wound, scar.

The pain won’t stop us,

We carry on with it

And keep walking.

The gait changes,

The body changes,

The skin changes,

The language changes,

The essence changes,

The form changes,

But we are still being,

Being the same ...

In a new skin,

New rhythm,

New object,

New tones,

New accents,

New keys …

We,

Always the same and always changing ...

Flying into the infinite ...

Eternal butterflies...


A Lo Lejos


Noche cálida,

Escape al campo, a la playa…

Allá donde las estrellas se ven…

Yo las veía…

Recuerdo viajes,

Camino a la montaña, a las olas…

En busca del silencio,

Lejos de San Juan, de Bayamón.

Allá, a lo lejos,

Recuerdo una casa de madera

En el campo de Cayey

Allá, la noche era más fría

Y los amigos nos calentábamos

Al son de fogatas…

Canciones,

Versos escapados,

Chistes

Y estrellas…

Un recuerdo tan lejano

Que parece fantasía,

Pero esos amigos aún existen,

Esas amigas aún existen,

Yo existo…

No se si existe

La casa en el Viejo San Juan.

La casa de campo,

El don barbudo

Que vivía en la casa…

Más lejos…

Cabo Rojo, amistades.

Y un camino lleno de hoyos…

Una playa sucia que era muy limpia…

Casetas de campo prestadas,

Acampadas clandestinas,

Poco alcohol y mucho amor,

Rastros de santería,

Olores de playa y sal…

Y las estrellas.

Ese recuerdo

Que parece menos fantasía,

Pero era muy fantástico.

Lejos de la ciudad,

En “la isla”, la misma isla,

Pero más lejos.

Lejos de la ciudad…

Ahí en la esquina más lejana,

Aún estaban las estrellas…

Brillando más que en Santurce…

En mi barrio de siempre,

En la casa de abuela.

Donde las estrellas brillan

Más que en Nueva York.

Esas mismas estrellas

Que veían nuestros taínos.

El calendario cósmico

Que ellos sabían leer.

No se si aún están los hoyos,

O la confusa luz de un globo volador,

O el gallo muerto

A la orilla de la playa,

O el olor a playa,

O el olor a sal.

Pero las estrellas siguen ahí,

Persistiendo…

Saludando…

Guiñando…

Hablándonos del tiempo,

Ofreciendo un mapa,

Ofreciendo inspiración…

A lo lejos lo imagino.

Ahora más lejos

Que mi hogar en Río Piedras,

Mucho más lejos.

A lo lejos

Imagino el paisaje de estrellas,

Ofreciendo un espectáculo de colores,

Acompañado…

A veces del eco del campo,

A veces del sonido de las olas.

Siempre del cantar del coquí.

Cantar plasmado en corazón Boricua,

En petroglifos

E infinitas poesías…

Inspirando…

Ese cantar sigue a lo lejos.

Nos llama.

Se aferra al corazón puertorriqueño,

Nos indica un camino

Un recuerdo de donde es La Patria.

Ese lugar donde canta, cantó y cantará

El coquí.

Esa nostalgia

Hoy me llama a casa.

Ese cantar

Siempre vive en mi.

¡Coquí!



From Afar


Warm night,

Escape to “El Campo”, to the beach…

Where the stars can be seen...

I used to see them...

I remember journeys,

Road to the mountains, to the waves…

In search of silence,

Far from San Juan, far from Bayamón.

There, in the distance,

I remember a wooden house

In the mountains of Cayey

There, the night was colder

And the friends kept warm

To the beat of

Bonfires…

Songs,

Runaway verses,

Jokes

And the stars...

A memory so distant

That feels like a fantasy,

But those friends still exist,

“Esos amigos, esas amigas”

They still exist, I still exist.

I don’t know if the houses exist,

The house in Old San Juan,

The house in the woods,

The bearded gentleman,

“El don barbudo…”

That lived in that house…

Further away…

Cabo Rojo, friends.

And a road full of holes...

A dirty beach that was very clean…

Borrowed camping tents,

Furtive camping,

Little alcohol and lots of love,

Traces of Santeria,

Smell of beach and salt…

And the stars…

That memory

That looked less like a fantasy,

But it was so fantastic.

Far from the city,

In “La Isla”, the same “Isla”,

But further away.

Further away from the city…

There, In the farthest corner,

The stars were still there...

Shining brighter than in Santurce…

At my forever barrio, my hood,

At my abuela's house.

Where the stars shine

More than in New York.

Those same stars

That our Taínos saw.

The cosmic calendar

That they knew how to read.

I don't know if the holes are still there,

Or the confusing light of a blimp,

Or the dead rooster

At the edge of the shore,

Or the smell of the beach,

Or the smell of salt.

But the stars are still there,

Persisting…

Greeting…

Winking…

Talking about time,

Offering a map,

Offering inspiration…

I imagine that from afar.

Now further out, far away,

Further than my home in Río Piedras,

Much further away.

In the distance

I imagine a landscape of stars,

Offering a parade of colors,

In the company of…

Sometimes the echo of the field,

Sometimes the sound of the waves.

Always the song of the coquí.

Tattoed chant in the heart of Boricuas,

Depicted in petroglyphs

And in infinite poems...

Inspiring…

That song continues in the distance.

It calls to us.

It clings to the heart of the Puerto Rican,

It shows us a path

A remembrance of where the homeland is.

That place where the coquí sings

Where it sang

Where it will always sing…

That nostalgia

Today calls me home.

That chant

Always lives in me.

Coquí!


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