Pedro Pietri


Pedro Pietri: Selected Poetry

Edited by Pedro Lopez Adorno, Juan Flores
Paperback - $18.95 $13.27Save $5.68 (30%)
Publisher City Lights Publishers
Nb of pages 254 p.
ISBN-10 0872866564
ISBN-13 9780872866560

Pedro Pietri (March 21, 1944 – March 3, 2004) was a Nuyorican poet and playwright and a founder of the Nuyorican Movement. He was the poet laureate of the Nuyorican Movement


I hate the world
I am depress
I am deprive
I am deprave
I am ready to propose to the grave
Life is too complicated to proceed
Fate is the only medicine I need to feel good

Seriously speaking
I am seriously seeking
the exit to leave this eerie existence
My resistance is low and will not grow

Rent control my ghost will haunt you

I hate the world
I am dejected
I am rejected
I am neglected and disrespected
ever since these damn liberals got elected
and corrected nothing really important
I am starving
I am no good at robbing
I have no ambitions
These damn housing projects
are responsible for my nervous condition

I hate you credit cards
Because of you there is a pain in my brain
Because of you all the minority groups
own a television set and will not let me sleep
at night watching the late show at full blast

I hate the world
I hate the world
I hate the world
I am disgusted
I am totally busted
The welfare department
will not handle my case
I am homesick for the past
when radio use to be a luxury
for the minority groups
and there were no such things as the late late show
Oh how I hate those damn
anti-poverty programs

All those electric appliances
are executing my people
If only the tenants knew
it was bad and destructive for them too
the world would be a better place
for everyone regardless of race
before our race is erased from the face
of every place
We do not want to be
destroy diminish and finish forever america
I am hungry
My folks are hungry
My friends are hungry
Every member of our generation
is a victim of starvation
We are down and out without a future
to look forward to WE ARE THROUGH
I attend over ten funerals every day
I don’t have time to send my black
melancholy suit to the cleaners anymore
That is how bad the situation is
and all because all of a sudden
everybody wants to be somebody
This is ridiculous this is absurd
why should our race be erased to make
america a beautiful place for everyone but us

We are the real american
We was here before columbus
We was here before general electric
We was here before the ed sullivan show
We are older than adam and eve
Noah also took cockroaches into his ark
Why should we be denied coexistence???

Back in the old days
long before these housing projects
wrecked our civilization
cockroaches were strangers to starvation
and lived better than the pepsi generation
There was always enough to eat for everybody
Every day was a holiday in those days

Those were the days my friend
we thought will never end
We use to eat forever every day
Our problems were few
No bill collectors no internal revenue
Those were the days oh yes those were the days

The life expectancy
of a cockroach in those days
was ten times longer than it is today
Ten seconds to ten minutes is the new limit
These damn anti-poverty programs are to blame
Since they came the people are not the same
Today everyone can afford the price of DDT
the television commercial says
Everyone old enough to talk is being train
to use deadly weapons to wipe us out

And what bothers me the most
is that nobody is protesting
No demonstrations no moratorium for our dead
Everybody is busy protesting this
Everybody is busy protesting that
Everybody is raising hell about the air strikes
But nobody is saying a damn thing about the DDT strikes
Like nobody is wearing STOP THE DDT STRIKE buttons

I use to come
from a very large family
and now I am down
to my last second cousin in-law
I have been married seven times
I have never been divorced
All my wives and husbands
are now resting in peace
None of them died from natural cause
They have all been fatal casualties
of the games the great society plays
This so-called civilization nation
has made a lonely man out of me

My insurance company
has informed me that they will not
insure another wife or husband I take
They think I am trying to make
a living out of this THEY ARE DEAD WRONG
I come from a good non-catholic
non-protestant non-jewish home

I have never read the holy bible
I will never read the holy bible
Cockroaches in their right minds
will never go near the holy bible
Bible reading is a dangerous mission
Is like committing suicide to get to heaven

I once had this uncle
who was very religious
He read the good book all the time
One day he fell asleep reading
the twenty-third psalm and woke up
in the hereafter the following morning
The owner of the bible close the book on him

I once knew this clairol lady
who threw salt and pepper on my people
and fed them to her pet hamster

I once knew this marlboro man
who decorated his ashtrays with my people
after putting his cigarettes out on them

I once knew this boy
who married the clairol lady
and gave birth to the marlboro man
His mission in life magazine
was to sell us gasoline in listerine bottles

If those are the kind of people
that go to heaven you can send me to hell lord

I want to be
a million miles away from humanity
with their vanity and profanity
and insanity preachers preaching survival
for them and the hell with everybody else
who cannot read the new york times
drink good booze have the wall street blues
hate discriminate castigate castrate
liquidate assassinate and instigate air pollution
oppose revolutions that will put a conclusion
to confusion and welcome positive solutions
end false illusions of the beginning of time
I want to be a million miles away
from nickles and dimes and quarters
and dollars white collars bright collars
blue collars go screw yourself collars
millionaires carfares welfares nightmares
and all that neurotic psychotic idiotic
chaotic air of despair found everywhere
underwears of deception win the elections
If I have to sin to make this wish come true
I will start by saying: our father
which art in heaven FUCK YOU

My first wife
lived a very short life
Tragedy came
separated our name
The first year
we started our atmosphere
she was ambush
by this retarded boy
who destroyed her pride
and swallow her body
after she died

My second wife
lived a shorter life
When tragedy came
and separated our name
she was still a virgin
We were married in the afternoon
and somebody stepped on her
on our way to the honeymoon

My third wife
was taking a short-cut home
thru the kitchen sink
A homicidal maniac saw her
while taking a drink
and turned on the hot water

My fourth wife
was a militant
She carried a knife
and was prepare
to cut anyone up
who threaten her life
She said to me
on our wedding night
I know I know
someday I have to go
but not without a fight
Before they kill me
I will have three
or more of them on the floor
ready for the morgue
The following day
she passed away
on a crowded elevator
I warn her to beware
of those modern inventions
but she paid no attention
If she had used the stairs
she would still be
alive and well with me

My first husband
lost his sacred life
in a DDT strike
coming home from the A&P
for insects only
I was in tears
for one whole year
after he disappear
from the atmosphere
because the day before
his destiny came near
his insurance policy lapse
I mailed a payment
a week before he died
but somebody stepped on the mailman
and the payment never arrived

My second husband
was suffocated
by this complicated
mentally constipated
fire engine impersonator
who got his kicks
kidnapping cockroaches
molesting them sexually
and throwing them
into empty coca-cola bottles
and putting the cap back on
and keeping them without air
until their life was gone

Oh why did not the earth
have an abortion
when all these fatalistic
sons and daughters
of tv dinners were born

The republican party
the democratic party
con edison general electric
gillete razor blades playtex
general motors and all
those other deadly odors
blessed by the daily news
should take an overdose
of that birth control pill
their test tube minds
invented in their spare time
and stop that fatal disease
called civilization
from destroying the nation

My third husband
lived a miserable life
He had lung cancer
ten wooden legs
one glass eye
fifty-fifty vision
in his good eye
a weak heart
a broken back
respiratory ailment
mentally discourage
unemployed eardrums
condem features
and bad breath galore
from a bottle of
weight reducing pills
he shoplifted
at the drugstore
I gave him a divorce
not because his health
was hazardous
to my health
I gave him a divorce
because he wanted
me to sell my body
to science
and give him the money
for plastic surgery
One week before
celebrating his last
unhappy birthday
at the funeral parlor
he hit the numbers
for one thousand dollars
went to the hospital
and paid cash for
a heart transplant
an eyes transplant
a face transplant
a legs transplant
o lung transplant
o rear end transplant
a breath transplant
And he was all set
to live and let live
for one hundred years
but on his way home
from the hospital
somebody stepped on him
and that was the end
of his breathing career

So you see
you cannot really blame me
for wanting to seduce my destiny
I have nothing else to live for
in this corrupted world anymore
The employment situation is bad
The starvation situation is worse
It hurts to continue living like this
Cockroaches are starving to death
ever since incinerators come
into the life of the minority groups
In the old buildings the people
were very close to everything they had
Food was never thrown away
But today everything is going
into those incinerators
The last family that lived here
took the incinerator
to get to the first floor
They do not live here anymore
Damn these low income housing projects
Years ago suicide was never spoken
but today suicide is a luxury
for a heartbroken cockroach
trying to make a decent living
in a low income housing project

Goodbye cruel world
I am thru being screw
by your crossword puzzles
When the bomb comes down
I will not be around
Forward my mail to your conscience when you get one


“There was no one in this country as ferocious as brilliant or as necessary as Pedro Pietri. In these days of growing inequality it is his rebel vision I turn to for hope and for strength. A towering poet, absolutely peerless, explosively talented, a pioneer, and iconoclast, and activist, to whom the entire spoken word movement owes a debt beyond calculation.”—Junot Diaz

“One of the great American poets of the 20th Century, a leader of the Nuyorican poetry movement that ignited at Miguel Algarín’s Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe. Perhaps the most progressive and at the same time funniest poet of the period.”—Amiri Baraka

“Pietri was poet laureate of the Nuyorican Poets.”––Ishmael Reed

Pedro Pietri’s often playfully absurd poems chronicle the joys and struggles of Nuyoricans—urban Puerto Ricans whose lives straddle the islands of Puerto Rico and Manhattan—and define the Latino experience in urban America. By turns angry, heartbreaking, and hopeful, his writings are imbued with a sense of pride and nationalism and were embraced by the generation of Latino poets that followed him. Pedro Pietri: Selected Poetry gathers the most enduring and treasured work among his published books, Puerto Rican Obituary, Traffic Violations, and Out of Order—and contains a generous selection of his previously unpublished works.

Pedro Pietri (1944-2004) was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and raised in Manhattan. In the early 1970s he was a featured poet at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Juan Flores (1943-2014) was a Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and director of Latino Studies at New York University. He was the recipient of the Casa de las Americas Prize and the Smithsonian Institution Latino Legacy Award. His books include From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Essays on Puerto Rican Identity published by Columbia University Press.

Pedro López Adorno is a professor in the Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies of Hunter College since 1987, and a published poet.

Publisher City Lights Publishers
Format Paperback
Nb of pages 254 p.
ISBN-10 0872866564
ISBN-13 9780872866560

Among his other works are: Invisible Poetry (1979), Traffic (1980), Plays (1982), Traffic Violations (1983), and The Masses are Asses (1988). His writings have been published and included in the following anthologies: Inventing a Word: An Anthology of Twentieth Century Puerto Rican Poetry (ed. Julio Marzan, 1980), Illusions of a Revolving Door (1984), The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry (ed. Alan Kaufman, S.A. Griffin, 1999), The Prentice Hall Anthology of Latino Literature (ed. Eduardo del Rio, 2002) and many others. In August 2015, City Lights releases Pedro Pietri: Selected Poetry, which gathers the most enduring and treasured work from his books—Puerto Rican Obituary,Traffic Violations, and Out of Order—and contains a generous selection of his previously unpublished writings.

Pietri not only wrote poetry but also recorded it. In 1979, Pietri came out with an LP entitled Loose Joints and later One Is a Crowd which were produced by Folkways Records. Diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2003. He went to Mexico to receive an alternative treatment for a year. On March 3, 2004, Pietri died en route from Mexico to New York. Funeral services were held in East Harlem at the historic First Spanish Methodist Church, which was taken over in 1969 by the Youngs Lords and renamed at the time as “The First People’s Church” to provide free breakfast and other programs to the poor and working people of El Barrio. This is where, fittingly, Pietri first read in public his classic poem, “Puerto Rican Obituary”, in support of the Lords’ takeover of the church. Pietri is survived by his children Diana, Evava and Speedo.

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