Diamonds in the Mud

I was born and bred in the notorious blocks of the Concourse, where laundry hangs on windows and fire escapes. The block is filled with barbeque parties and dice games. Hot summer evenings were the closest we'd ever get to stargazing.

My Bronx Boys on the Block,

I’m sorry that life is so cruel, brothers getting shot, and all you can do is watch.
“Why are you always so paranoid?” Their words speak ignorance because they don’t know that any day you could get knocked
By someone who could easily decide to play roulette, and end your life with a glock.
With the world how it is
It’s normal for mothers and fathers to be stressing about burying their kids.

Shooting games - we see it in live action.
Losing our Bronx Boys, my world feels like it's crashing.
But I breathe. I can’t panic,
For I gotta be brave cause bad things always happen.

So we become desensitized.
Can’t even look at our eyes.
For we have seen too much.
So our heart turns numb and we live out of touch.

My Bronx Boys on the block,
I know it’s easy to get lost in the madness.
Devante Lane, it only took a shot to the head for you to vanish.

I start to wonder, when the world we live in will stop being so evil
I know my words may not be enough
The deaths of our Bronx Boys may not stop.
But the universe knows far more than we do.

My Bronx Boys gave me hope when I thought it was over,
So I’m doing this for them, to look forward to something than to look over-
Their shoulders.
Every ray of sunlight was sacred as if the sun would sleep the next day forever.

The boys all burst out laughing. Their energy poured out like the water from the pompa. The heatwaves invite rest and ease, but for my Bronx Boys, they saw a future beyond the overseas of the streets.

What would the Bronx be without the Diamonds it has raised in red brick apartment buildings and corner store delis? Even the streetlights would call for them to return—resilience with an eternal hustle.

We live life in survival mode, spreading fear because death is always near. Our sight is blind, money's tight, soul and blood in a turmoil. But the block loves you back, carries on your legacy. Hands shake, hearts awake, humble spirit, this is life for Diamonds in the Mud. 

July 22, 2020. Bronx, NY. 

Playing on my hood nostalgia, characterized by times fondly remembered.
A past turned present, where you allow yourself to indulge in moments that are your favorite.
I drown myself in the memories.

July 24, 2020. Bronx, NY.

The rooftop. A getaway for when the day feels too heavy. You can see the rooms of people's homes through the windows, but you will never know what goes on in their lives. 

July 21, 2020. Bronx, NY.

There is nothing I wouldn't do to keep my brothers safe from the cruelty of the world. I know I can’t protect them forever, because just as I dream of adventure, I know they dream of it more. However, I can be there when they fall and help them stand tall while they reach for the stars.

July 28, 2020. Bronx, NY.

To be seen and heard--as children, that is all we ask. Mothers show us what real love is. A love without conditions. When you protect someone special to you, you become as strong as you can be. You do it without hesitation because they mean that much to you. 

July 29, 2020. Bronx, NY.

It shines through the leaves of the trees, onto our skin, and lights up our soul. I knew the sun was a star, but I'd never felt it. There is a huge distinction between knowing and feeling. We know love exists in the universe, but we wonder if we have ever really received it, and who is worthy of it being given to. 

December 9, 2020. Bronx, NY.

We found humor in everything. That was our bond. We could be serious as well; we loved the people in our lives profoundly. But I know the humour was our way of releasing the anxiety that was nestled deep in the corners of our minds. We were at peace in the lighthearted moments, and that was all the comfort I needed in my difficult times.

April 21, 2021. Bronx, NY.

Like the pompa, our dreams can not be contained. We are formless, but our environment does not dictate our futures. I think about lost souls on summer nights- fire hydrants, broken and running, but the water droplets feel like home. La pompa ensures that we are free to know and accept peace no matter the uncertainty.

August 17, 2021. Bronx, NY.

Hood happiness, that’s what I like to call it.
When you see them, it feels like those summer nights. We all have troubles; sometimes we don't see them. Too busy being the trouble. It ain't worth it getting even. Instantaneously you'll lose yourself and become your own demon.

October 20, 2020. Bronx, NY.

Losing Christopher in May of 2012. It happened early morning
the day you thought you were just gonna drop off the lil bro to school
Bet you didn’t know you’d be breathing your last breath
in this neighborhood
But I am from the Bronx where we lose ourselves before we find ourselves. 

November 30, 2020. Bronx, NY.

Cherish it.
You don't know when all of this is gonna evaporate
Rewind, then replay the snippet. These are the battle wounds that do not fall prey to your torment.
I know that such wounds will recover with time
I bathed myself in the tears of my skepticism, my hardship, my vulnerability
and now I can say that I am done blaming the world.
No longer wondering why you didn’t live.

December 9, 2020. Bronx, NY.

Forevers only last in moments.
Seeking truth that was stolen, and prayers for condolence.
So many young souls lost,
some ain't never coming home, it’s either you sell your soul to the hood, or live a life misunderstood, either way nobodys really free
This land of make-believe, you are your own thief.

April 28, 2020. Bronx, NY.

Destined for prison or 6 feet under.
For my Bronx Boys, I wonder
Why the hood would take you under
Whatever bringing you down
Whoever wishin' for you to drown
Stay on top, and don't forget what u been used to
Don't fall into the trap, 'cause this your breakthrough.
Forget the pain, soothe the hate, and push through.

May 4, 2021. Bronx, NY.

Always spinning the block outside, paranoid inside of your own building. Curiosity kills
I coulda told you this was coming.

Thinking all eyes on you, they watchin whatcha do
Nobody’s really free

May 4, 2021. Bronx, NY.

A love for the game is hard to come by, because our minds are set to have love for the fame. But if your dream is to be in the NBA, don’t let their jealousy get in the way. They won't tell you this, but they’re scared to have dreams as big as ours. Keep doing you, and one day they’ll listen. But by then, it’ll be too late, we’ll make the billboard signs glisten. 

May 4, 2021. Bronx, NY.

Come to me, with an open heart and bleeding feet. Come with a mind, not in the future or the past. Come settle your soul in the moment. Come, without asking or
offering; just come and let us be. Come having faith that I will be your safe haven, because I know where you have been.

December 9, 2020. Bronx, NY.

The diary represented in my brother's entry showed the two wolves of the self learning how to perceive each other. But your thoughts are mine, and my thoughts are yours. So don’t let them tell you how you should feel, your heart is in my hands, and that is the deal. 

May 3, 2021. Bronx, NY.

You have your mind set on the hustle. Slaves to making money, but please keep yourself out of trouble. But life is gonna knock you down, so don’t forget to smile, and laugh too. Making fast cash, that kind of joy ain’t always going to last. Life is going to knock you down, so don’t forget to be young, and love life too. 

May 20, 2021. Bronx, NY.

On the block, you get what you give.
It’s survival of the fittest.
But with brotherhood you feel like the richest
A love, trust, and loyalty that sustains you.
A friendship that does not judge, but frees you.

May 20, 2021. Bronx, NY.

As they race down the stairs, I think to myself what I would do to make sure these boys are always safe. Happy endings are not supposed to exist in the hood. So if we go out like the lights of the vigil candles on rainy days, let us go out with love in this place. 

February 1, 2021. Bronx, NY.

Stories of another one dead from a shootout.
Story too alike, different name, same turnout.
We may not see things through but yet it’s always clear.
They wanna kill us- they don't want us here.
but we don't shed no tears, cause death ain't a thing to fear.

February 1, 2021. Bronx, NY.

Having brothers I was a protector. With my brothers by my side, I was protected. For better or worse, they are always going to be my brothers. The bond between siblings is a kind of soul connection; a sensation that losing one another would be worse than death. 

February 27, 2021. Bronx, NY.

I don't know how you exist in this world yet you do. Because friendship is love, and love cannot be traded. Because love, like air, can fill any void, no matter how great. When love is freely given, selfless, and gentle in spirit, it is beautiful. 

May 25, 2021. Bronx, NY.

Made of old red and brown bricks, cracked cement where we once carved our initials.
The hood loved you back too much
But I promise to tell your story, I know the news got it wrong. My Bronx Boys are counting on me, so for them I stay strong.

July 5, 2020. Bronx, NY.

The volume of the speaker is set all the way up, to the point where it’s competing with the sound of the traffic outside. Playing in la pompa became a staple of my childhood in the Bronx. Nothing makes me feel freer than when I run my hands through the high pressure of the cold water droplets. We made the streets our home. But the real heartbeat of the block stays true. To all my Bronx Boys, this is for you. 

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