Konch Magazine - "Five Poems" by Nancy Mercado
A Room of My Own
The color of sky blue
A place where
The world had no key
A theater where
I sang and danced
A secret studio where
I sketched for years
A refuge for a refugee
When I was twelve
My room was a church where
I prayed for freedom

Ethel May Whittier
Ethel May Whittier
Always wore
Pillbox hats
Dresses with
Delicate floral prints
She always carried
A pocketbook
Over one arm
Ethel never married
And lived in
One room
At the YWCA
Where I visited her
When I was ten
Every Sunday morning
Tiny eighty-three-year old
Ethel May climbed
Into a yellow
Checkered cab
To pick up
The neighborhood children
For church
Every Sunday morning
We fought to sit on
The tiny folding stools
In the back of those cabs
In church Miss Whittier
Cheered us on
To memorize
Bible songs
Rewarding us
With pins and books
And bookmarks
After church
She’d take us
To the Boardwalk
For hot dogs and burgers                                                     
Ethel presented her
Heart wrapped in
Deeds of love
To the children
She introduced us
To the meaning
Of ocean waves
And fed us warm sun
And sea air on windy
Sunday afternoons

Return to Binghamton
I’ve just returned
From Puerto Rico
Where the sun defines
Every blade of grass
I’ve just returned
From New York City
Where I’m eternally young
On its wide-open streets
I’ve just returned
And walk across town
For a little package
Filled with bits of love
And lemons
Coffee and color
A package from mother
I’ve returned
To where desperation hangs
On city corners
To Binghamton-days
Saturated in tones of gray

No Where
Is there any place left to go
When smells of a Third World War
Loom thick in the air
When birds abandon
The clammy gray city
Sunken in muddied snow
Is there such a place
Where commodity is dead
Where humans are devoid
Of hatred

Change the wars in the Middle East
Wiping-out the children in the streets
 Dressed in grey rags playing with dirt and sticks and with pebbles
Change the insatiable hunger of the rich
For diamonds and dollar bills and oil to eat and to drink
Their self-indulging time bomb for us all
Change the extinction of the bats and the bees
The little hard working creatures
Who never asked us for anything in life
Change their early downfall from this planet
Change our lust for ignorance and for more and more things
Our hypnotic affair with guns and ammunitions
With violence on the air and violence in our dreams
Change the foolhardiness with which we treat the earth
The yanking out of forests by the acres
Without knowing the lives there with no care for the souls there
Change our narcissism over miniscule acts of how far we’ve come
Our bizarre decrees of dominion over earth and sky and sea
Change the minds and hearts of men
Their rotted country sides and blackened water ways
Their tainted winds and distempered cities
Let them be filled with color, with youth and vibrant again
Let them be lucid and living and loving again

New York at 33
The first time my mother came to the United States from Puerto Rico
She landed in New York City with her first husband
The wild racket from the streets frightened her
For the first time my mother feared the night
The first time my mother was pregnant in New York City
She did a favor for a homeless friend and let her move in
When time came for my mother to give birth
Off she went screaming in Spanish clutching her belly
The medical staff not understanding her cries
The first time mother was alone without her family
It was in New York City
She had no one to talk with in the hospital
Didn’t understand a word on the tube
And complications with her pregnancy delayed her return home
For six months
The first time mom was betrayed
It was in her home in New York City
The day she arrived with her new baby cuddled against her breasts
She discovered the homeless friend she had taken in
Was now pregnant with her husband’s child
The first time my mother returned to Puerto Rico
With her newborn boy she vowed never to set foot in New York City again
She declared her eternal hatred for the New York before boarding Pan Am
The first time I moved into New York City I was 33
I was terrified my mother would declare her eternal hatred for me
Terrified she’d vow never to set foot in my life again
Just as she had done to New York City