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Published On: Wed, Nov 9th, 2016

Emerging Voices: Project “Brave Lords”: An experiment in Latino-futurism

By D.Bird

***********

 

He fell.

 

Fell from a hole in the sky, ducking and rolling with the fall while it closed behind him. Patting his body, he quickly checked to make sure everything was intact, and in its proper place. Eyes, ears, mouth, nose, limbs, hands, feet.

 

He once saw an animal subject rematerialize with an asshole for a mouth. Had it been human it would have been apropos—everyone has an opinion, he thought. He felt sorry for the poor thing, and hoped that when the time came for the real test, he still spoke and defecated through the appropriate orifices. Setting shiver inducing images to the side, he turned to the view before him, a ghostly apparition of a past beyond his past.

 

Salt danced in the Caribbean breeze, wafting through lazy palm trees swaying to the rhythm of seas laying head to rest on fertile beaches not yet corrupted.

 

Not yet corrupted, by that man.

 

The wind danced with his tattered black boat, while the blazing sun baked his raven hair and pale skin, hot sand burning beneath his boots. Soaking it all in, he took a deep breath. Hundreds of years away, he was home.

 

He believed in the project, but he didn’t exactly choose to participate. Rather, he was chosen, a man looking for an answer to the question that plagued the whole of his life. Is there redemption for someone like him? For someone marked, by this body?

 

He checked the Chrono-meter. The screen embedded on his wrist whirred to life as green letters flashed against black background.

 

November 12th, 1493. 

 

A week early. Plenty of time to consider how to accomplish his mission, he thought.

 

His mission?

 

To create a new world.

 

He recited the words under his breath, like a prayer.

 

“Break the chains that last through time.

And let the world be.

No more masters, no more slaves.”

 

This, is the Brave Lord’s[1] Creed.

 

Another hole ripped open the sky. Wind encased in piercing light roared ominously from its entrance. He shielded his eyes while trying to make out what lay on the other side. As the light settled, a world of elaborate structures scraping the sky as if to tear down the heavens came into view. He swore he could see islands floating in the firmament. He stared agape in wonder. Gentle streaks of neon light flew across the sky. Vehicles of some kind?

 

Another stranger fell from the breach.

 

Metal knees crushed arid earth as hand struck out against the world to break the fall. Dust billowed out and finally settled beneath him. He rose with authority, body more machine than man yet smooth like porcelain, encased in a glossy platinum surface save for his face. A red band streaked across the machine man’s eyes, black bowl cut hair framed dark complexion, transgressed by crimson from ear to ear. A blood red cape to match his facial war paint billowed in the wind. The hole in the sky closed behind him.

 

“Who… what are you?” the black clad man asked.

 

The metal man opened windows into his soul, speaking in a language the pale man could not understand.

 

Tau, bu’aneque?”

“Uh… I didn’t catch that…?”

 

The metal man recoiled, eyes brimming with curiosity and surprise.

 

“Did not… catch… that…”

 

The metal man understood English, he realized taken aback.

 

“You… are not from this era,” the metal man concluded.

“Your face is not from this era!” the pale man retorted, folding his arms.

“That…” the metal man brought hand to chin in recognition, “… is accurate.”

 

The metal man turned his attention back to the raven-haired pale man. He motioned to himself.

“My designation is Agüeybaná XIII. But my birth name is Mucaru,” he stretched out his hand, “What is your name, time traveler?”

 

His voice was inquisitive. Inviting.

 

“My name…” the pale stranger hesitated, but felt compelled to meet his greeting, “is D.”

 

For seven days the time travelers spoke with growing warmth, as they built shelter, broke bread, and communed with the land of their ancestors. They observed the local yucayekes, or villages, from afar, taking care not to interact with the locals of this time and place, so as to not upset the fabric of history. Or at least, not disrupt it further from what D. planned to do. During this time they shared bits and pieces of their own lives and worlds, stories that nurtured a bond neither had expected.

 

They found love. D. discovered his new companion was more than metal.

felt taken aback, embarrassed by this turn of events. What was he to make of these feelings? Can affection rise so suddenly from such brief liaisons? Mucaru found his companion’s shock and dismay—his eccentricities in general—once again curious. He explained that in his world, this was customary among the Taino. They did not need to give it a name, only enjoy the presence of another, a deep attachment to another, even of the same gender. D. learned many things about the Tainos in those seven days.

 

Mucaru spoke about the glorious Taino Empire, a federation of island states originating in the Caribbean, until the development of anti-gravity technology, which raised the islands high in the sky for all the world to see. He was one of the creations of this advanced technology, deemed Agüeybaná XIII, the eleventh in a line of synthetic, mechanized humans, charged with protecting the Empire. The eleventh, he clarified, as he and his sisters and brothers were named after two of the great caciques, chieftains of the Taino people, who both bore that name fighting off the colonizers. Although born a man of flesh, Mucaru took on a mantle of steel and alloy. He spoke of his own mission to this fixed point in time, to protect the sequence of events which bring about the rise of the Taino Empire.

 

In Mucaru’s world, Agüeybaná I and II expelled the invaders and set the stage for a free nation.

In D.’s world, they died no less valiantly, unable to stop the wheels of time from crushing their world.

 

Worlds would collide again.

listened with excitement. A world where the Tainos survived, and his island, his homeland, maintained its independence as a free state. A land free from the chains of history. A land without masters and slaves. A land without crippling debt. A land of brave lords. This was the world he would bring to fruition. A world he only dreamed of. Thrilled with Mucaru’s stories, he told Mucaru of his people, the descendants of the Tainos in his timeline—a people colonized under Spain, conquered by America, yearning to be free. He told Mucaru about the economic exploitation of the island by their current masters, and how this pushed many to leave for the American mainland looking for better opportunities. The island itself, however, was divided up into different districts, each one owned by an investor or corporation that controlled the island’s debt. No longer led by an autonomous, quasi-democratic government, the island belonged to a series of financiers, among them the research team that created the Chrono-meter D. was using. Locked into a bleak future, the only alternative was to change the past. Some of his people were able to migrate and find a better life, while many instead found themselves marginalized in the mainland’s cities, struggling to survive, betrayed by “The American Dream.”

 

Mucaru listened intently, but noted that no such “Dream” exists in his world.

talked about the beauty and complexity of his people. Born and bred from the raging waters and roaring winds of the Caribbean, with bodies formed from Spanish conquerors, indigenous Taino, and people kidnapped from Africa and forced into bondage. Born from calamity, they were bound by language and heritage.

 

But Mucaru did not know these people.

explained how his people were distorted by the madness, quarreling among themselves over whose skin was the whitest, hair the most “straight” and beautiful, or whose tongue the most tainted by foreign dialects. D. himself was one of those White Puerto Ricans, his body worshipped and condemned, loved and hated, lightskin Cain to mulatto Abel, marked by a body that kills, that killed, that will kill, that is killing, so many of his own.

 

If D. saved his people by preventing the calamity, if he created a world where white did not make right, he could atone for the sins of his skin. This was his life’s work, his calling,

 

“Break the chains that last through time.

And let the world be.

No more masters, no more slaves.”

 

Mucaru’s eyes widened before the creed D. professed.

 

“But,” Mucaru pondered, “there are no pale skins among the Taino. And immigrants from Europa, or even the United States of Africa, are few, and far between…”

 

Silence fell between the heroes of time, each half-knowing the terrible choice they had to make.

 

Night fell, and so rose, the seventh day.

 

Lovers separated by rivers of time flowing forward, reached the sands of time to face their fate.

 

Mucaru turned to face D. Barely quelled rage poured from his tongue.

 

“November 19th, 1493.

 

If those ships reach these shores,

Everything changes,

Entire civilizations destroyed,

Languages forgotten,

Men, women, children…

Histories of oppression,

Born from one man’s ambition,

New routes to the East, ending,

In A New World,

 

But we can stop it,

We can preserve the future,

 

My future,

 

You and I are mirrors of each other,

Reflections of disparate possibilities,

With centrifugal ambitions,

 

Break the chains that last through time.

And let the world be.

No masters, no slaves.

 

Do they call this the Brave Lord’s Creed in your world as well?

 

We are a broken mirror,

In trying to find common ground,

we cut ourselves on the pieces,”

 

Mucaru pointed accusingly at D. and beyond D., condemning him and all of the people he stood for. People not yet born—not yet conceived in the fires of war.

 

“In your time,

When the boats upon which sail that man,

Reach these shores,

My people, cease to exist,

Your people, came into existence,

 

If that man dies,

Your people, never come to fruition,

Never come to be,

Never come to infest our Boriken.

And my people, the true people of this land, maintain their sovereignty, a free disassociated state,

A land with no fear of heaven,

A land of brave lords who raise hell,

 

Can’t you see?

A world where Spain never inaugurates the birth of the White Man,

And your current conquerors,

Are never born,

 

In my timeline,

Native people, African people, are free,

In your timeline, my people are but a footnote in history, fossilized in a culture you borrowed,

No,

That you stole! Just like the white men before you!

 

You call yourselves, Taino,

But you are a knock off, a pale imitation, an infection that festered in the wound left behind the burning embers of a place we call home,

Maggots that grew out of our dead to clean a memory that was never remembered,

In fact, never existed!

Your kind mourn us while they live from his deeds,

And stand on our bones,

 

As for him,

The man on those ships?

We know him as a faint whisper, a would-be villain, the first would-be conquistador.

But you? Your world reveres him as a hero, an explorer of new worlds, a champion of Christianity,

 

The knight Columbus,

 

But this land is spoken for.”

 

A warm breeze swayed palms trees to the beat of the Caribbean Sea, prostrating themselves before men who would battle as gods. D. witnessed Mucaru’s truth, and he had no rejoinder. No retort. No plea. He only waited for what came next. For what must come next. He closed his eyes.

 

Mucaru’s eyes beamed down D.’s frame, relinquished to the dilemma before them.

 

“You’re here, to protect your future,” Mucaru proclaimed, “I’m here, to protect my past,”

 

Mucaru looked out toward the horizon, gesturing toward the three shadows emerging from the depths.

 

“I can see them now,

Their sails rising over the sea,

The moment of truth is upon us,

 

You have a choice, D.,

Either you kill me, and let that man live,

Or I, kill you, and bury that spaghetti snorting rapist mother fucker deep beneath the sea,

 

Stop a genocide and secure my future,

Or bring it into fruition, and condemn your past,

Make your choice!”

 

Mucaru summoned the tools of war hidden in his metal body. The mecha Taino readied himself for battle, charging at D. with intent to kill.

reacted instinctively, eyes cracking wide open, body moving in tandem with Mucaru’s. They danced areyto in the land of their Gods. Sand kicked up like a hurricane. Clouds parted from the force of their blows. Flashes of light darted in the clear blue tropical sky. There was rage in the wind. And also pain and loss and all the things that lovers feel just before the ground gives beneath their feet.

 

The earth shook. The heavens thundered. And then, the avenging angels fell with a mighty clash; the beach turned crimson as if cut open by the crashing sea.

looked down upon the man who was neither descendant nor ancestor, enemy nor kin. A man who challenged what it meant to be a companion. Mucaru’s wounds were licked by the mourning sea.

“You think…” the dying Taino mustered breath, “you can challenge your masters, let time flow forward, and free your kind? You, a product of a rape in history? Do you think them worth saving? You think yourself worth redeeming?”

had no answer.

“Here on this beach, away from my loved ones, I only have you to witness my death, and so it seems, that of my kind. But I no longer have to make that terrible choice. For this, I am glad.”

 

“You bastard!” D. lifted the broken warrior to meet his gaze, “You wanted me to kill you!”

 

“I knew what would happen to those I care about, if I failed. But I could not take the life of your people. I could not bear the weight of such a sin. Now the choice is truly yours.

If you choose your people, I take solace that my friends, family, lovers… will feel no pain. They will simply… cease to be. It is not a total loss.”

 

“Your people,” his smile cut the path of rivers flowing from his soul, “sound so beautiful.”

 

There was silence broken only by the wind. It asked “why,”—all the why’s of broken hearts and potential futures derailed by misunderstanding. Could there have been another way? A way for a world to hold many worlds? For love to win in the end? For history to be rewritten without losing what we are? Does change have to come on the bones of our past? Mucaru reached for his killer.

 

“Among my… our people, we have a tradition called guatiao. We exchange names with those we call brother, lover… friend.”

“You want me to use your name, Agüeybaná?”

“No. The name I was born with—Mucaru. It is the Dark Bird… a powerful spirit, a harbinger of life and death. I will bear your name, and when I die, so too will D. And you, my Dark Bird, you… will live… and I…”

 

The soul left his eyes.

 

The Dark Bird walked away from D.’s broken body, his remains devoured by the ocean and the earth.

 

He looked down at white hands drowned in blood and oil, thicker than water.

That is when he realized, this must be why he was chosen,

He was never meant to kill Columbus,

 

He was sent back to protect him,

 

To birth his people into being,

To give them a fighting chance at freedom,

He must commit one last sin,

The original sin,

 

He must murder his ancestors.

 

The ships laid anchor, as a tiny crew lowered itself onto a small boat, heading for shore. Behind the palm trees on the edge of the beach, a group of Taino warriors looked on as the alien vessels loomed just beyond Boriken. A meeting of tragedy, the birth of a new world.

 

He did not change history—he simply let the world be. In so doing one world quietly died, simply ceased to exist, so that another might live. He could not change the past, with all its horrors, but accept it. Accept what he is and where he came from. Where his people came from. Could this open up a new vision for change? For transformation? His lover’s words echoed in his mind,

 

Do you think them worth saving? You think yourself worth redeeming?

 

Ironically, the Taino warrior seemed to believe so.

 

The Dark Bird used the Chrono-meter to open up a hole through time. He walked through it, finding no redemption in the past. No forgiveness for the future. Only a message to bring back to his masters,

 

“Break the chains that last through time.

And let the world be.

No more masters, no more slaves.”

 

No more.

 

[1] The Taino name for Puerto Rico, Boriken, can be translated as “Land of the Brave Lord.”

 

dbird-man-of-mysteryAbout D Bird

“Nobody knows exactly where D.Bird came from. Some believe he was “hatched” in a secret location deep beneath the urban jungles of San Juan, Puerto Rico, where sofrito caramelized vocal chords and spilled ink colored outside the lines and filled in the space between the margins. Out of that primordial ooze evolved a bilingual spoken word artist that’s part poet, part comic, and all anti-hero. His writing addresses themes ranging from love and relationships to culture, race, and politics.

A graduate of the School Of Poetic Arts (La SOPA) and the Full Circle Ensemble, D.Bird is a performance artist once dubbed a “Puerto Rican Experimental Theatric Poet” by at least one chupacabra. D.Bird has been sighted as a featured performer at poetry venues throughout New York City, including Word@4F, Tract 187 Culture Clatch, Mercury Soapbox, Word from On Heights, No Name Series, Stark Reality, Risk of Discovery Reading Series, Inwood Local Poets, Inspired Word All-Star Showcase, Make Music NY Spoken Word Extravaganza, Smokin’ Word & Drum Open Mic, Capicu Culture’s The People’s Open Mic, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Brooklyn Gypsies, and Amnesty International’s SLAMnesty Showcase.”

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About #LaSopaNYC

1656146_10100584107525894_1476730087_nThe School of Poetic Arts (#LaSoPANYC) is an educational workshop series from Capicu Culture that provides a communal space dedicated to the development of artistic skill and exploring the core principles of theatrical and literary expression. Join us as the first official class of our Artist residency at The Loisaida Center, Inc! As artists and scholars from historically marginalized communities, we feel that it is important to create opportunities for our stories to be seen, read, and heard. La Sopa provides a platform for those voices to be supported and uplifted, increasing the proliferation of creative works across the artistic spectrum. Our time together, generating and editing works, launching new ideas and projects, is an inspirational way to end each week and begin anew. We look forward to the return of our previous participants, as well as the addition of new voices that will enrich the experience.

Emerging Voices: Project “Brave Lords”: An experiment in Latino-futurism