Lo terciario/The Tertiary

Raquel Salas Rivera. Timeless, Infinite Light, $20 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-937421-27-4
Drawing from a Spanish-language translation of Marx’s Capital, Rivera levels a lyrically potent critique of the policies and practices that have caused a deep political-economic crisis in Puerto Rico. In the wake of “gringo colonialisms” that exploit local resources and labor, Rivera (who uses they/them pronouns) praise their “titi irma” who smoked and shared with the homeless that made flowers of palm leaves.” Rivera notes the endlessness of debt, which is passed down through generations such that even if you do not have children, your debt becomes the responsibility of “your neighbors, the dog that plunders your trash,/ doña sophia with her luminous rosary,/ your abuela that barely leaves the house to go the pharmacy.” Exploring ethical dilemmas within radical politics, Rivera balances earnest concerns—such as questioning if/how one can support a homeland that one has chosen to leave—with the sardonic: “we debate whether or not we should love each other/ or if love is a bourgeois sickness.” Rivera’s queer identity presents other challenges, as they wonder if it is possible to support family members who fail to offer their support in return. By blending the sociological and the poetic, Rivera delivers a withering assessment of the colonial practices masquerading as benign development that have impoverished the citizens of Puerto Rico. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/18/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
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