Sancocho by Mario (Ponce) José Pagán Morales


Mario (Ponce) José Pagán Morales is a LaSopa alumni and founding member of the Títere Poets: A writing collective that explores the boundaries of masculinity, vulnerability and male trauma. Mario has featured at Capicu Culture People's Open Mic, Great Weather for Media, 32 Poets for Oscar Lopez Rivera and Who Needs Healing? He is also the co-host of Pan Con Títeres a monthly podcast, which addresses the intersection of poetry, trauma, mental health and the Puerto Rican identity. His work has been published on Sofrito For Your Soul and the upcoming Great Weather For Media Anthology: Birds Fall Silent in the Mechanical Sea.

Don Marcos combs his hair to the right,

leaves a part

hipsters now call style.


He dresses with rough leathery hands from sugar cane fields and coffee plantations

his hands feed his familía

held abuelas face tenderly every day at 3am kissed her hello/goodbye

before picking another man's profit

he drinks his coffee black and bitter.


I ask him why?


He says Elsa was the only sugar he

ever needed.


Abuelo wears 3-piece suit

a black handkerchief

with a calatrava white cross

in his inside pocket,

still wears his 1940’s wing tips

they remind him

of an island filled with possibilities,


He dresses like a mafioso:


Island couture vintage shops salivate over.


Walks with a cane

Indian head pinky ring

his bible held tightly never leaves home without it.


Diddy bobs every third step

arthritis has colonized his bones,

kids on the block call him OG.


Marcos tells me chivalry is dead

men forget women also wear crowns

never spoke disrespectfully to Abuela

only touched her face with his lips.

He tells me que las mujeres dan luz a hombres

we forget that mami is also a woman.


that psst psst mami:

oye Nena

mami Chula

si cocinas como caminas me como hasta el pegao!

is not a woman's name!


Que a las mujeres se respetan.


Marcos dances bolero like sancocho cooks     nice     and     slow.

As nostaljia strums his quatro serves him Bacardi con caña.

he zones out to Felipe back to cantinas, copas rotas, tus amigos, camas vacías,

wishes Puerto Rico was free so he didn’t have to miss su viejo San Juan so damn much!


He's gotten use to Philadelphia,

he can't tell difference between cold winters and people.

le hace falta Guayanilla, las Quebradas y el saludo caluroso del jíbaro.


Marcos sueña con Lola's Borinqueña,

Bracettis bandera and Albizu as governor.


Dice que toda su vida ha sido un esclavo,

that maybe “you mijo”

will one day see un Puerto Rico libre,

walking barefoot en la playita

having a cup of cafe

where the rooster saluda con accento Borinqueño

donde ser pobre means ser rico.


Abuelo has been living una pesadilla

y me dice que cuando él muera que no lo despierten.

The Acentos Review 2019