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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