National Poetry Month: Day 26. “Patato y Totico play ‘Ya Yo E’” by Patricia Spears Jones


Patato y Totico play “Ya Yo E”

In this short film, a young man in Havana
Carries two buckets of water
Up and down three flights of stairs
Three times each day.

This is not a ritual but his daily ration
If he does not go at a certain time,
He will not bathe
He will not wash his floors
His t shirts will stay musty

His legs are long and his thighs
Are the thick thighs of a young man
Healthy enough to walk up and down
Three flights of stairs carrying two
Large buckets of water.
Three times a day

Of course this an artistic rendering of
The crisis in Cuba—the masses carry their
Water. But then the masses always carry water

In North America they stand
In early daylight outside the Dunkin Donut
Their daily ration, talking shit
and praying the padrone pays them at day’s end.

”Ya Yo E” is a ritual song to demonstrate virility sung by Africans brought as slaves to Cuba.

Patricia Spears Jones


Patricia Spears Jones is author of two collections: The Weather That Kills published by Coffee House Press (1995) and Femme du Monde from Tia Chucha Press (2006) and two chapbooks: Repuestas! (Belladonna, 2007) and Mythologizing Always (Telephone Books, 1981). In 2009, she organized and edited Think: Poems for Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Day Hat.

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →