Natalia A. Pagán Serrano

Upon finding Puerto Rico at the local toy store


Natalia A. Pagán Serrano is a poet from Puerto Rico. She currently resides in Oregon, drenched in tree-magic and rain, with her fiancé, Daniel, and her cat, Esteban. When not writing, you can find Natalia making soup.

Twitter: @napspoetry

an expansion


1.    You find it in the board game section, the name of home brandished on a cardboard box. The name of home brandished on an island by owners and owners and owners[1]

2.    If you ask anyone from home what they’d like the island to be called you think they would say, “Borinquen”[2].

3.    The game teaches an average person how to play colonizer. The game teaches the colonized how to play dead. 

4.    After what Puerto Ricans call “el verano del 2019”[3], you think that they are tired of deeming themselves, or being deemed as, less than anything. 

5.    Before el verano del 2019, it’s been said that Puerto Ricans had an inferiority complex, a symptom of centenary ownership; which is to say, you deemed yourself inferior. 

6.    You’ve had to explain the colonized quality of your home to many people since you’ve moved here, so, it shouldn’t surprise you to see the board game. The brown figurines are that of the native population extinguished by the first colonizers. 

7.    For years, you celebrated the instigator of this genocide by having a day off at school[4].

8.    On the island, cities fight for the right to say, “Colón entered through here first”[5].

9.    The maker of Puerto Rico[6], the board game, is Andreas Seyfarth. Seyfarth is a white, German-born man who enjoys luxuries like playing at colonizer. 

10. In Puerto Rico, players simulating colonizers are supposed to gain “victory points”. You think of reaching out to Andreas Seyfarth and asking him how many victory points one needs to become a successful colonizer.

11. Puerto Rico is rated #22 on the list of best board games of all time by Board Game Geek.

12. Your partner wants to buy the game so it’s no longer in stock at the toy store. You tell him it only means the creator will get monetary compensation for a game that infantilizes your collective, wrought, history. 

13. Your partner[7] then suggests you tell the owner of the toy store that they shouldn’t carry the game anymore[8].

14. You convince yourself out of complaining.

15. You convince yourself it won’t achieve anything.

16. During el verano del 2019, you were back on the island and you watched for the first time what a revolution might look like. You convinced yourself your presence there mattered[9].

[1] Spain, 1492-1898. England, 1598—tried, really hard, but couldn’t cut it after a few months. United States of America, 1898-Present. 

[2] “Taíno Indians who inhabited the territory, called the island Boriken or Borinquen which means: ‘the great land of the valiant and noble Lord’ or ‘land of the great lords’. Today this word—used in various modifications—is still popularly used to designate the people and island of Puerto Rico.”

[3] “El verano del 2019 marcó nuevos paradigmas en los procesos políticos y sociales de Puerto Rico con repercusiones en el gobierno y la legislatura.” Denis Marquéz Lebrón, “El verano del 2019 ¿ahora qué?”, Claridad

[4] Celebrated in Puerto Rico as el Descrubimiento de América; in Corvallis, Oregon, where you’ve moved, they now celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

[5] “La fecha del descubrimiento de Puerto Rico…ha sido motivo de disputas entre Aguada, Aguadilla y Mayagüez…” El Nuevo Día, “¿Por dónde llegó Cristóbal Colón a Puerto Rico?”

[6]Puerto Rico was released in 2002 by Rio Grande Games. An expansion of Puerto Rico, aptly named San Juan (after the capital of the island) was released in 2004.

[7] Sometimes, when your partner gets home from work, he says, “Estoy tan fucking cansado de hablar inglés todo el día”

[8] Your partner has always said you’re better at speaking English. You don’t ask him to talk to the store owner himself.

[9] It is estimated that about 600,000 Puerto Ricans participated in protests in July 2019.

To build a home where you are not wanted





































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