earthquake and thunderstorms

alter the vibes of peace

sometimes, life goes rattling

insecure and uncertain

heart and mind misaligned

flames feed from

bottoms of your soles

abrade against concrete

remnants of burning scents

as you marathon the path

the unknown direction

as long as it heads ‘away’

away is comfortable

to stand and face mirrors

challenges every cell

cuffed with shame and guilt

so you run, shackled

ball and chain

you tire easily and wonder why

the key to bliss in arm’s reach

but running moves feet

motion lulls the mind

it’s temporary though

good sneakers will take you far

minus the restraints.

(c) Liza Morales


Maiming the Island



oppression lives in my last name
a name that identifies
the trunk I branched from
with roots anchored
in Puerto Rico

Morales, from Aibonito
surname of Spanish origin, meaning
‘one who’s lived by a mulberry bush’

and mom’s side, Nieves
from Arecibo
‘Our Lady of the Snows’

la Isla where great-grandma
was forced to flee, with
ten kids on hips and back
because discrimination
said her fair skin ought
not to link with black
she birthed brown babies
abandoned and
chased across the ocean

Papa, my grandfather
loved la Isla
in a shared tin house
nestled in
the middle of the island
but colonialism is tough
a family needs more
than white rice and eggs
he flew to New York
in the fifties
and ran a bodega

Puerto Rico was enslaved
stripped of sugar cane
and coffee crops
where people were massacred
on Palm Sunday
and restricted to vote
for president
today’s debilitation
speaks the same dialect
intentional disabling
restricting resources
maiming the people

over 4,000 Puerto Ricans dead
4,000 human beings, blood
same that flows through me
veins, impassioned vessels
an oceanic causeway
for the ancestor’s voice
that’s bubbled in rage
for basic human rights
as people are sucked
into the mouths of hurricanes
the president plays golf

my people struggle
to keep afloat
half-baked under
Caribbean sun
casas, no roof
no electricity,
no running water
the mountains care more
than the U.S. government
paper towels thrown at us
and FEMA, aborted

heart monitors cease
dialysis machines stop
intubated lungs deflate
life support loses breath
thousands of people die
they even lie about that
a genocide formulation
as their eyes peer our land
gluttonous fingertips
reaching, to swipe our soil
while bodies perish in despair
they ignore the screams
entangled in palm trees
and the straining gurgles
that ebb and flow ashore

politicians are thieves
a ravenous culture
profiting from our deaths
and destructed properties
eyeing opportunities
from our misfortune
narcissists with agendas
look to capitalize
on coquis and
beauteous beaches
indigenous wail
as gushing wounds
are preyed on
and gasping breaths

lack of humanity scares me
this level of disconnect

chains are still clanking
the Jones Act snickers
oppression is real
and has lived too long
but our spirits
won’t allow us to give up
because our family names
remind us of those before us
and the fight they fought
to the fight we fight
with spines split forth
bent and hung over
a shattered land
but ancestors uplift
with valor and strength
to bolster our souls
above the peak
of Cerro de Punta

so, let it be known
we will figure it out
we will revive the soil
and plant new seeds
earth will reciprocate
all that we’ve sown
what’s ours is ours
and so it is.

©Liza Morales


Saying Yes to Myself


I had been wanting to do something to challenge and nourish my craft in writing for quite some time. I was becoming aware of a yearn in me for expansion and a need for connection. My spirit was starting to feel a sense of entrapment. This particular feeling prompted me to think about Anaïs Nin’s quote,

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Through reflection and honesty, I gained cognizance that I myself had been getting in my own way. If I keep it real and take it a step further, I had been getting in my own way and was well aware of it. I just simply allowed it.

Because it kept me safe. The refusal of taking risks meant eliminating the possibility to fail. That felt good for a while but then it didn’t. Limiting myself and allowing fears and doubt to control me evolved to an acute sense of unnaturalness. So, I made a decision to take measures towards my expansion and growth.

I didn’t have a definitive answer. I just knew I had to move and take steps.

To where?
Who knows? I just had to start trekking these steps in a forward direction.

I logged onto facebook and browsed through my notifications and took notice I had received an invite to the ‘Live Big Girl’ workshop by the beautiful, poet-sister Vanessa Chica from the ‘Live Big Girl’ play, which also features Karina G-Lopez and Rebeca Lois. The workshop was commencing on my birthday weekend and I figured what better way to treat myself than this time to write, learn and share. The only possible obstacle would be, getting the day off from work because I work every weekend. I’m glad to say, I got the day off quite effortlessly. I attended the workshop and was elated to give myself that time. It was my first writing workshop. From there, I started planting seeds, germinating with a vision board. In the midst of creating this vision board, I was reminded of the importance in finding my voice. Not only to find my voice but to be active in using it.

Vision Board

A few weeks later, I received an invite from Alicia Anabel Santos, the CEO and Founder of NYC Latina Writers Group, to the 4th Annual Sankofa Sisterhood Writer’s Retreat. I smiled hugely when I saw this invitation, knowing that it was the universe communicating with me. I viewed it as a response to what I had been meditating on. The universe was handing me a direct link to my next step. Now, it was a matter of saying ‘YES’ and showing up for myself. I had no idea what I’d be getting into, I just knew I had to go, even though I’d have my fears and doubts in tow.

The retreat was being held in the Catskills, upstate NY for Memorial Day weekend and I was afraid that would present a challenge with my job being that I was scheduled to work the weekend, including the Monday holiday. The retreat was months away. I figured I shouldn’t have too much of an issue getting approved for the time off. So, I filled out the ‘request off’ sheet and handed it in to my boss.

I was denied.

She said ‘no’ because I was already scheduled to work and that it was my responsibility to work it. She went on explaining that there wasn’t anyone to cover me. Typically, in a case like this, I’d accept the answer, be disappointed for awhile, and then move on with my life. But for some reason, this time was different. My spirit didn’t allow me to accept her ‘no’ so conveniently. At that point, my internal dialogue reminded me that I was responsible for my efforts. So, I asked myself had I put my best foot forward in making this happen for myself and if so, then perhaps at that point I’d let it go. That wasn’t the case though. So, I took some initiative and started personally going around the department asking other technologists if they’d be so gracious enough to cover my shifts at the hospital. I explained my situation in detail to them. Understandably, many declined. I received ‘no’ after ‘no’ after ‘no’. They went on telling me they were going to a bbq, or one had to work at their other job and another was going to Lake George. As I was hearing these varying responses, there was a voice in me, whispering “you’re going to this retreat”

In the meanwhile, the non-refundable deposit’s due date had already passed and I had not submitted the monies. For a moment, I got a little nervous because in the physical realm, it appeared as if I wasn’t going to be able to attend. Then, there was another part of me that was refusing to accept that as truth. I cautioned myself to walk by faith and not by sight and consequently, I kept hearing that little voice, “you’re going to this retreat”.

I then began negotiating with a coworker (which is not like me), offering to work her holiday, if she’d work mine. To my surprise, she came back to me a couple of weeks later and accepted the offer. Then, I had another coworker agree to cover the Saturday and Sunday shift. Apparently, he needed the extra money.


And just like that, I was relieved of my duties for that weekend. I was so proud of myself for not settling for that initial ‘no’. My spirit’s ‘YES’ superseded my boss’ and everyone else’s ‘no’. Hooray to me for being relentless about the situation! Hooray to me for believing in myself and honoring myself with the things I deserve!

Anaïs Nin’s words resonated,

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.


I had the honors of attending the retreat after all. My persistence paid off and my ‘YES’ felt so good. Alicia Anabel Santos even emphasized the gravity in saying ‘YES’ and showing up for ourselves. She’s a New York-born Dominican educator, writer and healer who cares enough to create a safe space for women of color to become empowered in writing their stories. She facilitated the ‘Strengthening the Writer’s Core’ workshop, in which she guided us through self-revelation and fortification through scenes, music and the 5 phases of movement. She also held a guided meditation every morning at 7:30am. We stretched, breathed and wrote. It was the perfect way to start the day.

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Yoseli Castillo co-facilitated this retreat. She is a Dominican poet-activist-teacher who is funny and full of life. She’s passionate about her work and of the lives she inspires. She facilitated the ‘Closing Reflection on Movement’ workshop and prompted reflection and presence. She also served as the emcee for the Sankofa Open Mic, in which I will never forget. One of her missions was to keep it culturally enhanced, as she accomplished with her plantain microphone. It was such a fun night!


Alicia and Yoseli co-created this space for writers, women of color to partake in the prioritization of our self, our mind, heart and pen. They created a space intentionally set for sisterhood and humanness. They created a structure of support. They created a space free of judgment. They created a space to nurture the spirit and the temple. All of this amounts to a space of healing, which is the ultimate bestowal.

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The retreat’s keynote was New York-born Honduran Boricua, Vanessa Mártir, educator-writer, who was published in the recent NY Times Bestseller ‘Not That Bad’, edited by Roxanne Gay. She facilitated the ‘Writing and the Body’ workshop, in which she holds a mirror prompting us to look within, to peel the layers, as painful or uncomfortable as may be and then write. She also guided us to connect and release to the earth, which was very homey for me. I felt lighter after it.


The last workshop facilitator was Bronx-born Puerto Rican poet, performance artist, activist, teacher, Reiki practitioner, Mariposa Fernandez. She facilitated the ‘Feeling & Healing’ and Performance workshops. Both were extremely beneficial. She provided tools and tips on performance, which I’m so grateful for and performed Reiki Medicine on us, which brought a nice balance to the environment and the work we were doing.


The physical body was prioritized by having the amazing Afro-Dominicana, Chef and owner of Woke Foods, Ysanet Batista, to feed every temple there with healthy and conscious meals. She prepares sustainable foods that keep close to ancestral eating, with high consumption of plant based meals. She’s an educator, organizer and farmer-in-training who nurtures with love ingrained in her hands.


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Since the retreat, I am a changed woman. There has been a shift in my heart, my soul and my womb. I have gained new tools, a rejuvenated spirit, new sister-friends and a different outlook on this work. I am super grateful for the encouragement and inspiration. This weekend will forever be treasured.

If you’re a woman who writes, looking for inspiration and connection or just a space that reminds you ‘you’re not alone’, consider attending the next Sankofa Sisterhood Writer’s Retreat. I promise you, you won’t leave the same.


The lesson here: never give up on yourself. You deserve the best of you and whatever it takes to get there.

© 2018 Liza Morales

Much of Growth


Why am I so sensitive?
Why do I feel so much?
much like sharp empathies
much like those who easily cry
cry like a thunderstorm, or
cry subtly, like misty rain
rain can cleanse you
rain falls in seasons
seasons prompt adaptation
seasons encompass change
change is always the constant
change can be scary sometimes
sometimes we fear the unknown
sometimes we flow like water
water covers most of the earth
water gives us life
life vessels our purpose
life is different for everyone
everyone walks their own path
everyone wants to be loved
loved wholly and fully
loved like they deserve to be
be true to yourself
be considerate of others
others may not be mindful
others will learn through your actions
actions translate a language
actions share more than you tell
tell the stories of ancestors
tell all of the truths
truths make liars uncomfortable
truths peel off the masks
masks hide transgressions
masks fool people
people like social media
people paint pictures
pictures with filters
pictures of their perception
perception is a crucial lens
perception becomes one’s reality
reality of life
reality of time
time is an illusion
time is our forever
forever lives the spirit
forever allows space for growth
growth of self
growth makes us better

©2018 Liza Morales

The Magic of Fingertips

the human touch, a freeing sensation
skin, conduit
vibrations channel through pores, intercourse
bliss, full of it
there’s something grand in the phenomenon
a lofty feel
authentic and bare, a raw creation
the layers peel
swapping energies for exchange of light
we’re face to face
it’s like the world wraps us in its bosom
a warm embrace
with the stroke of each finger, there’s healing
our touch is medicinal, sound feeling.
© 2018 Liza Morales