Ode to Zion & Lennox in Which I Consider My Dad otra vez, Ending on a Lyric by Cheo Feliciano

A Remezcla article pines for the old days of reggaetón.

Blames J. Balvin made the genre soft.

“Otra vez” plays in my headphones.

As the synth mimics the calm of an ocean breeze

and Zion near-whispers the opening notes, I laugh.

As if a dembow couldn’t be more

than flesh crashing together.

As if Zion & Lennox hadn’t crowned themselves

reyes de romantiqueo years ago.

As if Zion wasn’t always beggar

dressing bluenote supplication in drumbeat.

As if the scratch of Lennox’s voice

wasn’t proof of cries continually caught

in the grooves of his throat.

As if I haven’t always been choking

my own song in this boombox throat,

another nigga too proud to admit his pain.

And I know I inherit this from my dad.

How afraid I was to be llorón in front of him

because I’d never seen him cry.

How when my brother was twelve

I told him not to cry over the girl

who shut her ears to his love songs

because there would be others.

Didn’t know I would lock the door

to my bedroom six years late,

the night my college girlfriend decided my crooning

was now off-tune for her ears.

How I silently wailed unsung notes into a lullaby.

How I never told Dad about it.

Waited until I was seeing someone else

to drop the news, like there wasn’t any pain to it,

like I hadn’t begged the bluenote back

down my throat with every Zion & Lennox song.

But of course this man who used to live by his fists

would also pause anytime The Four Tops

or Cheo let a bluenote drift into the air,

had to have always known there was pain worse

than getting your ass beat, that at least the purples fade.

Mom told me once Dad jumped over a bush

to catch up to her stride and I don’t know

how to reconcile that with the same man

who escorted someone out back

for dancing with Mom except maybe it’s proof

we all want someone to hold us close that last dance.

Want someone who will squeeze us so tight

the bluenote can’t help but drift out on our breath,

can’t help but make us cry for the world to turn back

just once and give us a chance to let it out for once.

And once my love asked me

to give her the saddest fuck of all time,

told me to play some music to set the mood.

And as a Zion & Lennox tune echoed

I cried into her shoulder, held her like I knew

she wasn’t leaving, let the dembow break me.

And in my head, Cheo crooning the tune

Dad always used to play:

Andar con la pena            de que nadie sepa

                        cuál es mi dolor.

Sentir mi problema           y vivir la vida

                        con cara de amor.

Y con pesadumbre           contestarle al mundo

                        que nada ha pasado.

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