Monday, November 9, 2009

A message to young people: Passing The Torch to a new Generation - May the USA stay in good hands!

From my old generation to your young generation,
Please keep passing the torch...

First, on behalf of my generation, I want to extend an apology to you for not passing the torch to you in the most proper way! We let you down and now we are paying the price for it! Too many students in your age group are falling through the cracks.

But I believe that it is never too late to make a U-turn and I want to share with you what we should be passing on from one generation to the next generation.

So please, listen to me as I try to reach out to you, so you can begin to set-up a personal foundation to help you along the way -- now and in the future. I firmly believe, because of your age that you have the maturity and spirit of emerging independence to appreciate what I am going to share with you. I want you to realize that you are a part of a very important generation and in a position to make a very big DIFFERENCE in what this great country is going to look like in the future. YOU ARE A PART OF A VERY HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT IN OUR LIFETIME. The strength or weakness of this country’s TOMORROW is going to depend on what choices and decisions you make TODAY!

So please listen carefully – Points by Point:

1. Please stay in School, and work on getting an Education

2. Learn to read, but read to learn

3. Learn to write properly

4. Learn to speak properly

5. Learn your math and numbers

6. Learn Music

7. Learn to play a musical instrument

8. Learn to socialize by getting involved in school activities

9. Go to gym classes and exercise the body

10. Remember that school is not designed to prepare you for a job. You are in school to learn, to acquire the skills, Knowledge and awareness to decide what you want to do with your beautiful journey of life, to properly involve yourself in a positive movement for growth and development.

11. Go on to Higher Education; get a high school diploma and a college degree which is a great thing to do!

12. You may also decide to get a job, and work for someone the rest of your live, but you may also decide to run your own company, become an entrepreneur, creating your own product based on your own creations and ideas.

13. You can be a CEO (Chief Executive Officer), BE a President of a company; you can BE anything you want to be, but you must have the education to understand and have the vision to make it all happen! Education gives you the instruments and the tools to make right choices and decisions.

14. Open your eyes and begin to define things for yourself, and take accountability and create your own score and play your own game; and remember that the real ability to see comes from your education, not from what is on public display.

15. Reach out to your teachers and let them know that you want to learn, and let them know your weaknesses so they can work with you.

16. Stay away from groups that take away the real meaning and purpose of WHO you are. These groups will take away the promises of your dreams to be somebody and turn you into a drop-out or a gang member.

17. LADIES, learn to love yourself, first, before talking about loving any guy. If you don’t know how to have love and appreciation for yourself, people will take advantage of you, and the guy you give your love to will not be around to help you pick up your emotional pieces.

18. GET SMART! LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND LOVE THE IMAGE YOU SEE! Be #1 in your books!

19. Don’t allow anyone to program you. You must program yourself. Otherwise, you will stay inside the box and never realize the potential and excitement of your life.

20. And when so-called friends or family members put you down, walk away and don’t look back; because, if you do, this time, you are putting yourself down.

21. Remember that being different is beautiful. Don’t hate what is different; Embrace it!

22. Don’t be afraid to create an idea or a philosophy with the mind, a belief with the spirit, and health with the body, maintaining a balance so that one element does not control the other.

23. Make sure to create and draw the line that you won’t cross; otherwise, you will never stand for anything. Be a leader, not a follower. Be a Provider, not a Consumer!

24. Remember that you are composed of four important parts:

a. Spiritual – having a solid belief and faith in what you do not see; remember that you are not a human being experiencing a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being experiencing a human experience.

b. The Mind – having the ability and willingness to prepare yourself educationally and to think clearly, being able to think in a critical fashion, to make the right choices and the right decisions. Without an Education, you will have a hard time climbing the mountain.

c. Emotional Balance – You understand, respect and control your abilities to feel, for example, not giving up your dreams and aspirations for someone else, especially if that person is not in your best interest. Control your emotions, bring balance to your emotions, and stay true to YOURSELF!

d. Physical – having respect for the temple of your body. Eat proper food, exercise your body. Don’t take your body for granted. Take care of your medical and dental needs.

25. You must make sure that each part works together in harmony to ensure that you are maintaining a balance helpful to your growth and development as a human being on this planet. Without this balance, you will have a hard time in the journey of life.


With that said, I would like to read An Educational Pledge for you and if you truly love yourself and want to make something of yourself, you will make the decision to use An Educational Pledge as a road map and guide to help you navigate your plan for the great journey ahead of you.

I pledge to maintain
a healthy Mind and Body,
Staying away from the evils of Drugs
I pledge always to try my Best
to understand the importance of Knowledge and Education
I pledge to paint a Positive picture of where I plan to be in the future
Not allowing obstacles to stop the growth of my Plans
I pledge to seek Answers to Questions,
with the understanding that they will lead to other Discoveries
I pledge to work Firm,
with the Awareness and Confidence that firm work today will serve
As the Seeds for my strong Tree tomorrow,
a Tree that no one will be able to tear down
I pledge to learn proper languages, beginning with my Mother's
Always prepared to appreciate others
I pledge to gain a better understanding of Me,
by understanding my Cultural roots
I pledge to fully accept Me as a human being,
a Rainbow of many cultures and colors
I pledge to overcome any Personal misfortunes
Becoming Stronger from such misfortunes
Always striving to become
A wise person…


In closing,
Learn to be a Provider,
Not a Consumer!
And never stop climbing your Mountain,
One Step at a time!

May the Educational Pledge be with You!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Basic Guide to Self-Development - 15 Questions to get you started!

Please take the time to read the following as a preparation to appreciate the essence of your presence on this planet and move forward to become a Provider in your community:

The following fifteen (15) questions are designed to help with your self-development process.
The questions also will work to develop clarity of vision of who you are in relation to your presence on this planet. It is not enough to live from day-to-day without examining one’s life’s journey of choices and decisions. Take the time and provide answers to the following questions. If addressed seriously, these fifteen questions will help to enhance your purpose and quality of Life.
Learn to truly appreciate why you are a living creature on this planet!
Get out of the “Box” – and be you!

From the Book:
 "Never Too Late to Make A U-Turn:
An Educational Pledge & 15 Questions to Self-Development
by Alberto O. Cappas

1. Who am I? Use this question to challenge yourself to truly examine what you have become since your day of birth. Begin to see how you can carve out the real you…

2. Why am I here? Give thoughts to the reason why you were born. Is it an accident, or is there a spiritual or divine purpose for your existence? Are you here to give or to take? Take a good look at the events of the world and how you are linked and connected to them.

3. Am I living out my dreams? Do I have dreams? If not, why? Are you working as a doorman but want to be a painter? Are you living in Buffalo but want to be in New York City? Are you employed in a job that you dislike but stay just to collect retirement benefits after twenty years on the job? Do not let your dreams pass you by. Get on your skates and move on! Take the risk!

4. Am I doing what I want to be doing with my life? Instead of saying: “I hope my dreams come true”, why not say: “I will work and plan to make my dreams come true.” There is a reason for dreaming. Dreams are like blueprints and designs. Do not let your dreams remain dreams. Bring them to life.

5. Am I living a life based on other people’s expectations? Do what you need to be doing, and not what others want you to do. Remember that the expectations must come from you, and not from anyone else. You are the gatekeeper of your aspirations on this planet. The expectations are yours to design and navigate.

6. Am I happy? If yes, why am I happy? If not, why? Make up your mind to be happy. Do not allow or give power away to others to direct and control your emotions. Control your ego, understand the influence of family, and appreciate your association with the Universe. Smile with the Sun, not at the Sun. Dance with the Moon, not at the Moon. Be happy!

7. Is my present situation based on a risk taken or on an opportunity provided? Are you cruising in life, taking anything that comes your way without an honest examination of yourself in relation to these opportunities? Take the time to think about things you would truly like to be doing and what you need to do to get there. You need to enjoy the element of Risk and let go of what you now have so you can move forward with your real purpose and mission.

8. Where do I expect to be in the next 10 to 15 years? Stop cruising and begin to see yourself 5, 10, and 15 years from now. What do you see? What would you like to see? At this very moment is the right time to plan seeds for your Tree so you can enjoy the Fruits of your labor tomorrow. Begin investing today. Tomorrow never comes for those that don’t take the time to design it.

9. Have I maintained a system of values and standards to govern my life? How do you live your life from day to day? Is there something inside of you that stops you from doing something you don’t want to do? How do you arrive at making important decisions or choices? Have you taken the time to examine your inner constitution and amendments?

10. Am I a consumer or a provider? Do I know the difference between the two? A consumer consumes (takes). A provider provides (gives). You need to address this question very seriously if you want to move to a higher level of awareness and consciousness. The answer you find will be a big step in formulating the way you decide to live your life.

11. What are my strengths and weaknesses as a human being? You need to seriously look at yourself and determine the strengths and weaknesses of your human tools. For example, if you hate or dislike reading, you would not want to take a job as an editor or proofreader even if the pay is great. Use your strengths to get where you need to go, as well as to understand your weaknesses. As human beings we all have them. The more we learn about ourselves, the sooner we get where we want to go. Read, use the computer, attend lectures, and ask questions. Just get started.

12. What are my hobbies? Do I have any positive hobbies? If not, why? Take the time to understand the origin of your interest in hobbies. Hobbies can be an extension of your purpose and mission on this planet. Properly utilized, hobbies can help you with your personal growth and development as a person.

13. Have I explored the potential of my hobbies? Hobbies are sometimes hidden treasures that can lead to a career or business enterprise. Get to understand the value of your hobbies and examine how they can help you grow and develop spiritually and economically.

14. Do I understand the difference between being religious and being spiritual? Many people believe in God. They attend church for their religious guidance. Others do not attend a church but also believe, taking upon themselves the need to reach out and talk directly to God or the Supreme Being. What about you? Are you a religious person? Are you a spiritual person? Can you be both?

15. When I look in the mirror, what do I see? Am I able to honestly verbalize that image? If not, why? Be happy with who you are. Understand your mind and your body; look into the spirit and the soul of your being. Use this question to confront the real you and work to obtain the highest level of self-awareness about the person you are capable of becoming. Have the courage to say goodbye to your negative associations as well as to negative habits. As long as you are alive, you are still in the game of life. Play by the rules, and use your inner constitution and amendments to guide you in the journey.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Poem: Gentrification

Pepe looked
Across the street
And noticed
Something good
Happening in the neighborhood
“Look across the street,”
He screamed out to Carmen,
“The building is being fixed-up
Maybe now they will fix-up
The
Whole neighborhood.”
“¡Que chevere!”
Said Carmen to Pepe.
It was
The beginning of something
Called gentrification
Moving in
Next door to all the next doors
Of the neighborhood
Leaving no trace of its obvious presence.
Pepe and Carmen
Are now
Very
unhappily
Residing
Somewhere

Poem: Stickball

Summer screams
where half-naked bodies dance
In the shadow of despair
Where streets become playgrounds
And fire hydrants become beaches
And rooftops the place to get closer to the Sun
Summer screams where half-naked bodies dance
In the shadow of despair
Watching Joselito playing cowboys and Indians
Eddie in the corner talking about the
Viceroys against the Sinners
Angel and Junior
Creating a baseball field in the backyard
Bobby the Junkie committed a robbery
The solution to his problem
Carmen with Pete
Under the stairs
Losing innocence
And Juan
Playing stickball in the middle of the street
Killed by a driver who didn’t understand
Recreation on this side of town.

Poem: Hide and Seek

When
I first encountered
your existence,
at
'Under the Stairs',
I was able to sense,
spiritually,
and please don't ask me how,
a person hiding inside herself.
Layers of protective weight.
That night I saw the pain,
in your eyes,
'the mirror of your soul.'
And now,
after years of self-exile,
in my solitude,
hiding inside myself,
learning to feel again,
I became a newborn,
craving for attention.
I need you to understand,
I need you to forgive.

Poem: Milagros - An American Love Story

When she was born
her mother named her Milagros.
Her father was never around.
The neighbors said she was beautiful
but it was sad that her hair was a little kinky.
When she was fifteen years old,
she had dreams to go after.
When she was seventeen,
she dropped out of school
'cause it was the groovy thing to do.
When she was almost eighteen,
she opened her legs to Papo (who told her he loved her).
The night after, he told her to get the hell away.
When she was almost eighteen,
she was cool, she partied, she smoked
and got down a few times,
hoping someone would tell her
'I love you' (and mean it).
But time passed (and no one ever did).
When she was nineteen,
she had five abortions.
When she was nineteen,
she was cool, she was beautiful,
selling her wasted body on 42nd Street
to buy American Dreams,
hating the ugly smell of polluted breath
and old men telling her,
'I love you, you Spanish girl.'

Poem: Maria - An American Journey

She was sitting there
The lonely traffic passing by
Thinking of yesterday when Mommy
Used to cry in protest
The warm air freezing her body
Listening to broken down voices of edited confusion
Subway rides traveling to nowhere
The wino on the corner learning to read
The New York Times
The polluted smell of everything hanging around her body
Thinking of yesterday when Fernando told her
“If you love me - you have to prove it”
She was sitting there
Hating the endless hours of the night
Those that passed looked at her with inviting eyes
That wanted to come out after her
Black and PuertoRican kids playing Cowboys and Indians
After dark in the backyard streets
Where all of them
The Rats, the Dogs, the Cats, and the Pushers
Hold their daily meetings
She was sitting there
Hating herself for accepting a defeat that loved her
The lonely traffic passing by
Bars and liquor stores on every corner conditioning the younger victims
While drug dealers count their money of death
Thinking of yesterday
Her trip from Puerto Rico and her first introduction
To the New York cold that ravaged her body
Sitting there
Thinking of yesterday when Freddie played her wrong
Accusing her of being a puta for no reason at all
He is now happily married to a girl
From Queens who makes love to the dog next door
Thinking of yesterday
The dances, the parties, and the James Bond movies
She loved so much
And now
Waiting for the overdose of everything to take effect

Poem: Suicide of a Puerto Rican Jibaro in Mainland Buffalo

They didn’t understand
They were all Americans now
He would smile sometimes
Thinking about his youth in Ponce
Carmen, Rosa, Teresa and Liza
Holding on to dreams
That helped him stay alive
The tropical music that was killed
By the new sound of “salsa”
But they didn’t understand
His children didn’t understand
A million times his body was raped
By the unfriendly cold
The farm he sacrificed
To pursue the American Dream
Trying to buy some dignity in the trade
Of the unemployment office
Shoveling the snow that invaded
His tropical existence
He would walk up Virginia Street
And down Hudson Street
Searching
For some clues of understanding
But
Only
Found
New inventions of nightmares
That wanted to destroy his dreams
The dead dreams
That helped him stay alive
Were too weak
For the American nightmare
They didn’t understand
They were
All Americans now






Poem: Doña Julia

Doña Julia
Committed suicide last night
Cause the welfare department
Demanded too many documents she did not
Know existed
The utilities were removed
The landlord proudly gave her eviction
Papers
The friendly bodega accused her
Of trespassing
Holding on to hope
Doña Julia visited Puerto Rican leaders
With fancy titles
Promising her things that never arrived
Doña Julia
Always made it a point to vote
With the democrats, the party of
The poor, she used to say
Doña Julia
Committed suicide last night cause life was angry with her
She told her spirits
And the people that didn’t
Know her always found things to say about her
With fancy titles
Her daughter Evelyn disappeared with this
Dude named Hector who promised her every thing he didn’t have
And her son Josè
Who dropped out of school at the age of 10
Always took money from Doña Julia
To pay his expenses and other things for the dead head
He too disappeared looking for his friends who were never around
When he didn’t have anything
Doña Julia
Committed suicide cause life was angry with her
Her dead face had a smile that police officers did not understand
Someone that did not know how to read found a note
And flushed it down the toilet thinking it had something
To do with the numbers
The note said something about
“One way or the other
I’m going back to the island”

Poem: Her Boricua

Doña Rivera
The one everybody comes to when
They run into unresolved situations
Was sold the Moon yesterday
She was very happy ‘cause the
Salesman gave her a break
Telling her she did not have to pay taxes on it
“It was tax free”
He told her
All her neighbors were surprised
That she accomplished such a big thing
So they assembled and celebrated
Her new fortune
They decided that Doña should
Keep it a secret or else the welfare department
Would come and take the Moon away from her
Time passed and Doña Rivera
Became a very proud woman
At night, especially when the
Moon was bright and in full view
Doña Rivera would stay up late
And admire the beauty of her new possession
On weekend nights
She would invite her relatives and best friends
Over to share the experience with them
“See”
She would tell her friends and relatives
“In this country
You have the freedom to buy
Anything you want”

Poem: A Letter for Iris

It was long ago yesterday.
The oldies, the gangs, the wine,
Trying to find definitions to everything,
Everyone refusing to speak Spanish,
Stupid heavy accents,
Keeping our welfare secrets to ourselves.
You didn’t reveal anything until years later.
It was long ago yesterday,
The oldies, the gangs, the wine,
Going to sets during school hours,
And drinking that terrible wine that you disliked so much.
And the Ricans and Dominicans from downtown,
Rapping to you behind my back.
The Latin Knights against the Young Lovers,
The Sinners against the Viceroys,
The Dragons against the Assassins,
Jitterbugging into oblivion.
Willie, a junkie on Columbus Avenue,
Eddie, a homo on 72nd Street,
Carlos, a revolutionary at Attica,
Sara, a community leader in Washington Heights,
Jose, a capitalist on Wall Street,
Mimi, a housewife in Puerto Rico,
Carmen, a puta in the South Bronx,
And Miguel,
Demonstrating in front of the United Nations
With fifty buttons on his jacket.
It was long ago yesterday,
The oldies, the gangs, the wine,
Remembering those wonderful nightmares.
The playground, the backyard, the roof,
The fire hydrant, the basement,
And those silent trips to the park where we called
For the plans that never came.
I leave you know,
The oldies, the gangs, the wine,
Hoping you found your definitions without regrets.
I only discovered new ignorance and stupidity
By many that refuse to open a new path
To our growth and development.

Book Review


Another Book By Puerto Rican Poet /Writer Alberto O. Cappas
Doña Julia and other Selected Poems
http://www.educationalpledge.com/
From City Limits Magazine Review:  "The standout poem in this collection is the title piece, "Doña Julia।" The poem is about a woman who commits suicide, and leaves a note that baffles police, stating, "One way or the other, I'm going back to Puerto Rico।" The poem starkly describes what led the woman to this place. "Do--a Julia/Committed suicide last night/Cause the welfare department/ Demanded too many documents she did not/know existed." It's quite the indictment coming from an employee of HRA. In a city used to low voter turnout in most elections, where people feel increasingly alienated from their political and community leaders, it is refreshing to find someone working in the system who is sympathetic to the lives of ordinary citizens. Cappas' poetry, never overly sentimental, demonstrates both a talent for the written word and a deep understanding of people, their communities and the larger institutions that influence their lives. The next time you go to the polls, don't elect a politician; elect a poet.

A Pledge for our Children and Youth

An Educational Pledge

(Except from the book: Never too late to make a U-turn)

AN EDUCATIONAL PLEDGE
I pledge to maintain a
Healthy Mind and Body
Staying away from the Vice of drugs
I pledge always to try my Best to understand
The importance of Knowledge and Education
I pledge to paint a Positive picture of where I plan to be in the future
Not allowing obstacles to stop the growth of my Plans
I pledge to seek Answers to Questions
With the understanding that they
Will lead to other discoveries
I pledge to work Firm
With the Awareness and ConfidenceThat firm work Today will serve
As the Seeds for my strong Tree tomorrow
A Tree that no one will be able to tear down
I pledge to learn proper languages, Beginning with my Mother's
Always prepared to Appreciate others
I pledge to gain a better understanding of Me
By understanding my Cultural roots
I pledge to fully accept Me as a human being
A Rainbow of many cultures and colors
I pledge to overcome any Personal misfortunes
Becoming Stronger from such misfortunes
Always striving to become
A wise person.
A Rose in Spanish Harlem

Three Characters in One:
East Harlem - Spanish Harlem - El Barrio
© By Alberto O. Cappas

There is a Rose in Spanish Harlem
Hiding in exile until it becomes all clear
A community
Divided unto itself by itself with itself
While other cultures make themselves at home
We stay inside
Like Lobsters in a barrow
Managed by a social service over-dosed mindset
Cultural Centers keeping Boricua in the past
Preaching a strategy of outdated liberated emotions
Perpetuated by poets with words that erase
Possibilities of moving a new generation forward
Colonial chains still in full operation
A living electronic field of rappers and poets
Adding confusion to the meaning
A community consuming, not providing
Electing misguided egos into public policy positions
Cementing the fate with physical evidence:
Babies coming from babies
The young echoing the "N" word as a daily sweet diet
Tattoos carved on human bodies transformed into walking billboards
And slacks placed below the waist line as something very cool
As the poet Pedro Pietri said,
"It is time to visit
Sister Lopez again
The number one healer"
And pray that the spirits
Would heal and guide us out of
Ignorance and bondage
Giving us the wisdom to build A new Spanish Harlem
And Liberate the Rose
Rise Puerto Ricans
Rise Puerto Ricans
Rise!

____________________
About AOC:
A published poet, author of several books of poems, including a self-help book, Never too late to make a U-turn: An Educational Pledge and 15 Questions to Self-Development. He is the founder of Nubian Speakers Bureau, Don Pedro Cookies, and www.aneducationalpledge.com website. AOC is also the director of Community Affairs for the New York City Human Resources Administration. AOC was the student leader that led to the development of Puerto Rican Studies at SUNYAB in 1971. During this same period, AOC was invited to Attica Prison as an Observer to help negotiate prison reform with Governor Rockefeller.

Comments about Cappas' Work



El Boricua Magazine (www.elborocua.com/BookReviews.html)
A self-help and development book, where Cappas, the author, writes encouraging words to inspire and motivate our youth into taking a closer look at themselves and embolds them to change those things that can be changed. Cappas writings encourage the reader as if it was an inspiration speech and rallies the reader into action. He uses an easy to read and understand style of writing and gets down to the basic core of human behavior using lists of fundamental steps to change for the better. This is an excellent book for teachers of students at risk and for troubled youth.

Great book for our youth -- Angelica Aquino
Never too late to make a U-turn is a reflective tool to help anyone, both young and old. It allows one to take a step back to move on and to understand the impact of actions and omissions. Give someone the gift of self-empowerment and self-realization by sharing the questions and the ultimate answers that come with such quest. It is a life time gift, it truly transcends generations. I encourage parents, educators, young people and everyone to share the book with their friends and loved ones. I think this book makes a wonderful staff development and parent and pupil, student and teacher conversation facilitator. It is a conduit for personal growth. – Angelica Aquino, Attorney, Washington Heights, NY

A Challenging Book – Rafael Rodriguez
An Educational Pledge is a most read book for all. I truly recommend it, and Mr. Cappas insightful and clear message is one that will motivate everyone to start "thinking outside the box”. If you are looking for your next book to read or as a gift, this would be a great and lasting investment. -- Rafael Rodriguez, President of the July 4th, 1899 Foundation, Queens, NY

Anthony Camacho, Educator, Higher Ed Counselor, NYC
I could feel the force of the waterfall in your words.Words are the most constructive or destructive instruments to nurture or discourage the potential in every child. I really appreciate the gift that God has given to you to express this truth. I could almost feel the force of the waterfall in your words. I can relate to the feeling - so overwhelming."

Pedro Cordero, Child Care Administrator and Educator, Bronx, NY
’ve used the educational pledge on many occasions. Cappas’ writing comes from the heart and the soul. Cappas truly captures the everyday people's hopes, dreams, and fears. I ’m fortunate to know him - as a friend and as a poet"


Elaina Silva, Writer, California
Your writing is a reality check! You are a very deep and thought provoking writer - a reality check as well. Your talent shines through your work. I intend to read many more. Thank you!"

Beverly, Poet/Writer, from the starlitecafe.com website
Right Feelings into your words... I'm a teenager in today's society. It's not easy to always keep your goals in front of you. I've lost touch with some of my goals; thank you for reminding me of them. You put the right feelings into your words. Keep it up!"

Writer’s Digest
….I have seen first hand how many students fall through the public-school cracks and the best way to insure against this is to empower each student to become more accountable for his or her own education and commit to it well beyond the classroom. In essence, Cappas establishes a great deal of credibility in relating his own story and how he pledged himself not just to education and learning as a way of life, but the importance of balance, commitment, and courage as one of the surest paths to personal fulfillment…..


Review by Jaira Placide, New York University
Clear, Natural and Poignant. These words accurately describe Alberto O. Cappas’ work. Cappas understands the suffering and struggles of Puerto Ricans living in Mainland America as well as in Puerto Rico. His poetry traces their hopes, problems, and misconceptions from the island to the mainland where they discover dreams do die hard. In the poem “Suicide of a Puerto Rican Jibaro,” one need not be Puerto Rican to identify with the alienation faced when entering a cold, foreign, and jungle-like world. Cappas successfully explores what such a drastic change can mean for a Puerto Rican away from his island, where he is the majority. In “Jibaro,” for the Puerto Rican man who comes to the United States, “A million times his body was raped by the unfriendly cold... to pursue the American Dream...” Cappas is a relentless observer and commentator of what happens when a people leave their homeland, or forget where they come from, to pursue the uncertainties of the American Dream. His poetry, ironic at times, questions whether this dream does exist.


In “A Spoken Secret,” “Light skin Puerto Ricans forget to speak Spanish... and dark skin Puerto Ricans adopt hot combs to straighten their hair.” In “Doña Julia,” a woman is trapped like a mouse in America and so commits suicide as a last attempt to return to her homeland. And in “Maria,” a young girl sits patiently thinking about her experiences in New York since leaving Puerto Rico and now waits “for the overdose (of a drug) to take effect.” Of course this is not to say that all Puerto Ricans moving to the United States end up killing themselves but it does show that Cappas is keenly aware of a sort of cultural and spiritual death that happens to Puerto Ricans when they leave the tropical scenes and adopt certain American values. In the ironic humorous poem, “Her Boricua,” a woman buys the Moon, tax-free, and invites her relatives and friends on weekend nights to “admire the beauty of her new possession.” She tells them that in America, “you have the freedom to buy anything you want.”

“Haiti in Puerto Rico” explores the death theme even further. “I recited useless words of a poem to an audience of Puerto Ricans, turned into zombies, refusing to break the spell of all the misfortunes.” Doña Julia is a poetry book filled with poetic stories, forceful and powerful imagery and messages that will stimulate all minds that come into contact with it.

Cappas’ language is original and refreshing, which makes his writing very natural and uncluttered with abstractions. Cappas is correct, knows what he needs to say and clearly makes his point.