Sharone Wellington-deAnda, Internship and Project Coordinator, School of Professional Programs

"Born Anew At Each A.M."
by Piri Thomas

The street's got kicks man,
like a bargain shelf,
In fact, cool-breeze, it's got
love just like anyplace else.

It's got high-powered salesmen
who push mucho junk,
And hustlers who can swallow
you up in a chunk.

It's got sewers that swallow
all the street pours down its throat
It's got hope wearing
an old over-coat.

Read the full poem

After arriving in America, I lived and grew up in the Bronx, a tumultuous place in the 80’s and 90’s. It was different from where I was born, but is as much a part of my as is my former home. My friends who I grew up with, and who remain my best friends now, were all of Afro-Latinx descent. Papi, my best friend’s father, grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Spanish Harlem. His world was very different from the one created for his daughters. He use to use the word “escape”, but often said with a soft smile that made us think the connection was never truly broken. We were sheltered from a lot of the intensity surrounding us, but we also managed to stray from time to time. Sometimes that straying were real life events…still sworn to secrecy, other experiences we read about through books. I was 16 years old when introduced to Piri Thomas in Papi’s bar in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx. The stories overheard, as they were bantered back and forth, made a trip to the library a necessity. It was there we obtained a copy of “Down These Mean Streets.” The book led me to Piri’s poetry, and the poem “Born Anew At Each A.M.,” one of my favorites. It describes some of the grit, beauty, and strength I experienced growing up in the Bronx.