Alba Delia Hernández

Alba Delia Hernández is an award winning writer, inspired by Puerto Rico, growing up in Bushwick, and salsa, who dances in the hybrid forms of playwriting, fiction and poetry. She was awarded the winner of the 2022 One Festival for her one woman show, Juana Peña Revisited. She is a recipient of the Bronx Council of the Arts First Chapter Award and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University. She has been published widely and has performed at El Museo del Barrio, Nuyorican Poets Café, Teatro Circulo, and other venues. She’s a passionate yoga teacher, salsa dancer, and videographer who recites speeches by Puerto Rican revolutionaries or moves to songs of resistance. 


when i was in the fourth grade
a teacher
had once yanked
my long ponytail
real hard
i poked my head
into his classroom
just to say a
quick hi
to my cousin/

held up a black and white newspaper
and shook it
“damn Puerto Ricans
got me stuck in traffic with their parade.”
we were on a yellow school bus on our way to the bronx zoo.

all our laughing /joking/ excitement
he was telling us this with a bullhorn
“and all those flags.”

“who’s Puerto Rican here?”
more than two thirds of us raised our hands

“ok, now one of you, please raise your hand and tell me
something you’re
proud of about being Puerto Rican?
tell me one thing you’re proud of?”
he sneered

i remember the
           heat on my cheeks.
it was really hot in that air conditionless yellow bus

we wiped the sweat off our brows
just to cover our faces
we looked away from each other
looked down
we were only nine

none of us raised our hands

“that’s what I thought,” he chuckled/boomed

----------------------------------------------- // ---------------------------------------------------------


Like a foot stuck in mud
          my shadow can only move from the ankle and up.

Maybe it was the shoes I decided to wear/the heavy black ones that come free.

Someone said a million dollars is
not a lot of money /c'mon what you gonna buy
with a million dollars?
A new land we can grow coffee beans in?
Or plantains or mangos?
Is a million dollars gonna get
us a whole island? Back? Don’t talk to me about
a million dollars being a lot of money.

Go talk to my shadow.

It's rooted deep in cement mud/It won't come after you.

          My shoe has never been to a swamp.
          Only a factory in Brooklyn.
          Bushwick to be exact.
          Where women give birth to babies
          Standing up.

Run motherfucker run whispers the tongue of my shoe.

You gonna sit in that mud you gonna die in that mud/and I ain’t giving you my heart because
you've gone and got yourself stuck/in pig mud.

A pig in PR almost ate my finger, because I thought it was so cute. Maybe a million dollars was
good enough too to buy some salt water in a tin cup to keep the infections away.

When I was eleven,
a white lady on 5th ave
chased after me and my mom
because I had dropped a
Mickey D french fry pouch on the ground.
She picked up the greasy paper pouchlike
she was picking up dog shit
and with quick steps caught up
to us and tapped


Between her fingers glistened the pouch/You can’t litter in this neighborhood/Is that your child?/Is
that what you teach your kids?/ Disgusting.

The air stinks of potato skins
                      and gravy.

oink oink/
The Sun, she gets tired too
        and she eyes the Moon
                   a sneer, a promise to send some dust/ trade places.
                   It must be so easy to work, says the Sun, when the children are sleeping.
                   Isn’t, Moon?

My shadow/…..
Stuck in a sinkhole

5th Avenue white lady
In a spa
mud on her cheeks and nose
pulls and pulls her clogged pores
I think she forgot that garbage day
was Wednesday.

It was a sunny day when I was eleven. And me and my mom walked down 5th avenue and we
celebrated with Mickey Ds because some doctor claimed he had a cure for my vitiligo.
I was playing I Spy with my mom, my way of teaching my mom English. I don’t think I dropped
that french fry pouch on purpose. I’d pay a million dollars for the lowering of my mom’s forehead
and her, “Miss I’m sorry.”

Damn I’d pay a billion dollars and a

path of fire for that
pigs in pig mud don’t know how the world sees them
until a pistol shoots them right between the eyes.


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