Born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, July 15. I was about six
months old when my parents moved to Manhattan, and we
lived on 100th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. We
resided there until I was six years old.
We moved to Webster Avenue, in the Bronx, 178th Street,
and I remember I had to walk up stairs that led to another
street level, a height equivalent to about 5 or 6 stories up,
in order to go to school. My maternal aunt lived in the
building next to ours. One day, while I was at school, my
sister was looking for something under the bed, using a lit
match to help her see. The mattress caught fire. And so
did everything else, because my sister locked the door to
the bedroom, and told no one about the fire. I came home
from school and found the remains of the apartment. I was
only 7 years old and I remember feeling all alone, and
scared. I wondered what had happened to my family.
Luckily, my mother was at a next door neighbor's
apartment, and came and got me. What a relief to find out
my family was okay. We had to move in with my aunt. A
few months later, my aunt found an apartment in Manhattan
and we stayed in her Bronx apartment.
Shortly before my 8th birthday I became ill and was
hospitalized, nothing major, but while I was still in the
hospital my family moved to the McKinley Projects at 161st
Street between Tinton and Trinity Avenues. We were one
of the first Puerto Ricans to move into the predominantly
Irish and Italian neighborhood. It was a beautiful
neighborhood, and I liked it, but I soon realized we were not
welcome and so we pretty much kept to ourselves. I
attended P.S. 140 on King's County Place, at least I think it
was there, to which we traveled by bus. By the time I went
to junior high school, the neighborhood was about fifty
percent Hispanic/Afro-American. Gangs, like the Roman
Kings, Red Skulls, Black Skulls, Latin Kings, and others,
began to make their presence known. Heroin was the drug
of choice, besides LSD, pot, etc. I could already see the
neighborhood taking a downward turn.
1965: The most important event of my young life.
I was now 12 years old and in 7th grade attending Paul
Laurence Dunbar Junior High School, P.S. 120. If I kept to
myself before, I did so even more now. I took up reading
and gobbled up everything I could get my hands on,
including my favorite reading material, Marvel Comic
books. I excelled in math and science because I wanted to
be the best in the class. By the end of the 7th grade I had
earned the nickname "Bookworm," and was reading at 1st
year college level. The other kids in my school would come
to me for help, on any subject, and if I didn't have the
answer, I would tell them I'd find out for them. Then
something happened that I feel changed the course of my
life, or at the very least, showed me where I wanted to go.
Because up until then, I didn't really know what I was going
to do with my life. Most kids at this age don't have to worry
about things like that. But I'll never forget the day my
parents and I were heading up 161st Street towards
Prospect Avenue, to the train station to go to Manhattan.
On the stoop of a building just before Prospect Avenue,
there was a 14
year old boy, chasing the Dragon (high on heroin), his
gums black from malnutrition, teeth missing, his head
drooping down, almost falling off the steps.
I looked at this poor kid and said to myself, "That is not
going to be me. I'm going to go to college and become
somebody. I don't want anything to do with drugs." After
that, I often told myself, and others, I was going to go to
college. I also told myself I would not join any gangs
because I knew this doped up boy was in one.
1968: A second important event in my life:
One day, in January, when I was 13, there was an
announcement over the loud speaker for six students to
report to a specific room. I was one of the six called. I was
excited to find out that we six were academically the top
students in the school and there was a scholarship
available to us from six different private high schools---one
4-year scholarship for each of us. I couldn't wait to go
home and tell my parents. They were so proud of me and I
couldn't have been happier, because I knew this was going
to be my opportunity to make it to college. It was exciting
and scary at the same time. The school I was going to go
to was Birch Wathen High School, on 72nd Street, between
5th and Madison Avenues. There was one catch: I would
have to do 9th grade over again. I told myself I didn't care,
so long as I got the 4-year scholarship.
Summer of '68
I went to summer school in Williamstown, Massachusetts, to
get advanced classes in English, math, science, and social
studies. The classes were designed to bring me up to the
academic level required by the curriculum of Birch Wathen.
I realized many public schools in the city were not keeping
up academically like they were supposed to be. This
summer school program was tough.
The first year at Birch Wathen was difficult. I was the only
Puerto Rican in the whole school, which consisted of 30
students per grade (from kindergarten through twelfth
grade) divided into 2-fifteen classes per grade, and I was
not exactly welcomed by the other kids whose parents were
all well to do. In the high school, there were about 8
afro-American students, most of them also there on
scholarships. I socialized with them. But by the end of the
freshman year, I had Jewish, Russian, Italian, Irish, Asian,
German, and Spaniard friends. We had our own little
United Nations of friends going and the next three years
went just fine. It turns out I was the 2nd Puerto Rican to
attend the school, but the other guy flunked out, making me
the first Puerto Rican to graduate from Birch Wathen High
It was at Birch Wathen High School that I first read The
Canterbury Tales and The Raven. We studied the poem in
one of our English classes and I began to write my own
poems. However, all of those pieces of paper I wrote my
poems on eventually were all lost, and at that time, I didn't
think anything of it. Now, I wish I had saved them all.
Yale University: A very disappointing event
After the SATs, I was contacted by a student representative
from Yale University. I had been accepted by a Junior
College, the name of which I can't remember, and a couple
of other schools, but Yale got my interest. They were
looking for a Hispanic student to give a scholarship to, and I
was a likely candidate. I started working in a pharmacy in
December 1969 and the pharmacist talked me into going to
pharmacy school. I told the Yale representative that's what
I wanted, but the scholarship was for Hispanic Studies, or
so I was told. Later on, after I rejected the other colleges, I
was told the Yale scholarship had been given to someone
else, and the Yale representative expressed his apologies,
and admitted that what they were really looking for was a
token Puerto Rican. As a consequence, I wound up a year
out of school, but I started pharmacy school the following
year, and eventually I was no longer upset.
While I attended The Brooklyn College of Pharmacy (now
the Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy, LIU,
on Flatbush and Dekalb, in Brooklyn) I worked at Bousel
Pharmacy (on Union Avenue and 161st Street) 35 hours a
week. Basically, I was working full-time and going to school
full-time. I got married in June of '75, my wife was working
full-time and everything was going well for us. Until, after
three semesters, my wife lost her job and my hours at the
pharmacy were cut in half due to their cash flow problems. I
knew right away I would have to take a leave of absence
from school to work in order to make ends meet, and go
back when circumstances permitted. But things appeared
gloomy. I knew times were going to get rougher and I was
trying to figure out what to do next. I wanted to complete
college like I always said I would, but it didn't seem possible
at this time.
I enlisted in the United States Air Force It was my
brother-in-law who gave me information about the GI Bill,
since he himself was in the Air Force, and I saw a way to
make it back to Pharmacy School. 1976 was the last year
the Armed Forces was offering this particular GI Bill. This
particular program helped pay my rent, phone bill, and part
of my tuition. The rest of my tuition would be covered
through school grants and loans.
My first day in the Air Force was September 26, 1976.
Basic training was at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.
Technical training was at Shepard Air Force Base, also in
Texas. The day I received my assignment, it said I was
going to England. For a moment, I thought I was going to
Europe, but then I noticed the LA. It was England Air Force
Base in Alexandria, Louisiana. I spent the rest of my tour at
this base. I was a Medical Service Specialist, equivalent to
an orderly in civilian life except we did much more, in the
order of a Licensed Practical Nurse. Then I went through
advanced training and worked in the Emergency Room as
an Emergency Service Specialist (like an EMT in civilian
service but doing many things a Registered Nurse would
do, like start an I.V., give injections, do preliminary
examination workups, catherizations, suture wounds, etc.
We had to do these things in order to be ready and
independent in case of war. Once I was settled in, I rented
an apartment off base (I didn't have enough time in service
to qualify for on-base housing), and my wife joined me.
While at England AFB, another academic opportunity
presented itself. While enlisted, I could attend classes and
the Air Force would pay for 75% of the tuition. I would have
to pay for my books, but it was still a good deal. I already
had 45 credits from Pharmacy School, which I wanted to
use towards the Air Force's Physician's Assistant program,
but the program was closed when I applied due to all
available slots being filled, and so I enrolled in a program
for a B.A. in Health Care Administration and Management,
through Park College, in St. Louis, Missouri. It was an
accelerated program where I could take up to four classes
at a time, every 8 weeks instead of the regular 16 weeks. It
meant going to classes four days a week, Monday thru
Thursday, and staying the course. My ER supervisor
helped me out tremendously by allowing me to work only
days and nights. There were three shifts, day-7am to 3pm,
swing-3pm to 11pm, and night-11pm to 7am. So I was free
evenings to go to school. And I did go, religiously.
Before I knew it, I had all my core credits, but still needed a
few electives. So, I took up courses like American
Literature, Women in Literature, Literature of the
Supernatural and the Occult, and Horror in Literature, etc.
I found I really enjoyed these classes and began to really
enjoy writing. I wrote numerous short stories for my own
enjoyment, and saved what I wrote. Later on, years down
the line, I would come back to these stories.
1979, September 16
My daughter, Veronica, was born in St Francis Cabrini
Hospital, in Pineville, Louisiana. I was there, in the delivery
room, and I watched as she came into this world, and I was
moved by her will to live. She was beautiful. I will never
forget the day she was born.
I graduated from Park College with a B.A. in Health Care
Administration and Management in June of 1980, In
Absentia. I wasn't able to attend my graduation ceremony
because I had re-enrolled in Pharmacy School for the Fall
semester and I was missing three credits which I would
have to go to Summer school for in order to begin my third
year on time. I was missing part II of an Organic Chemistry
class. The good thing was that the Air Force had an early
out program for such a circumstance. I had accumulated
45 days leave which I used in conjunction with the early out,
and I started my separation from the Air Force in March of
1980. Total time in the Air Force: 3 years, 9 months, 25
days, (16 hours, 10 minutes, and 14 seconds). But I wasn't
In order to get the GI Bill to pay for my class in Organic
Chemistry part II, I had to be enrolled full time, meaning I
needed a total of 12 credits minimum. So, along with
Organic, I took three other classes, and of all things, a
class in Drama, Poetry, and American Literature. Little did I
realize what effect these three classes would have on me
later on. But my first goal was to finish Pharmacy School. I
figured I would become a pharmacist in order to get a good
job, and then I would use that to do whatever it was I really
wanted to do.
I received my B.S. in Pharmacy June 1984 and received my
license September 15, 1984.
Along the way, from my separation from the Air Force to
graduation from pharmacy school, insidiously, my marriage
began to crumble, and shortly after I graduated, my wife
and I were headed for divorce. Eventually, we had a
mutually agreed divorce, and we remain friends.
Before I went to the Air Force, Bousel Pharmacy moved
from Union Avenue to what eventually became Webster
Pharmacy on Prospect Avenue, between 160 & 161
streets. Reuben Colon, a man I considered my mentor and
friend, made me a partner in Webster Pharmacy, until he
retired in 1989 and moved to Florida. I became sole owner
and kept the pharmacy until I closed the store in June 1997.
August 22, 1985 I remarried, to a pharmacist, and she also
graduated from The Arnold and Marie Schwartz
College of Pharmacy.
My daughter, Chloe, was born. She was a fighter. Her
birth was difficult, but she made it into the world
nevertheless. They wrapped her up like a papoose, and
when they handed her to me, her eyes were wide open,
looking at me as if she knew all along I would be there. It
was for her that I wrote the pantoum A Daughter.
My son, Peter, was born, and he had to have his way from
the very beginning. Instead of facing towards the back, he
was facing forward, and could not pass through the birth
canal. So, he was born by Caesarian Section, after 12
agonizing hours for my wife. I guess he figured he'd come
into this world on his own terms.
1997 My scariest moment in NY
After owning my own pharmacy for thirteen years, I was
going to convert my pharmacy into a Medicine Shoppe
Pharmacy and was planning to take all of July off and come
back in August to have a grand opening. I was going to do
this in order to improve my failing business. However, on
June 15, 1997 having forgotten my keys to the store, while
waiting for my store manager to arrive with his keys,
something happened that made me change my plans
completely. I was sitting in my car, parked in front of my
store, eating a donut, drinking coffee, while reading a
newspaper, when all of sudden, I heard gunshots. I looked
up from my paper in time to see two guys, one on foot, to
my right, and one on a bicycle, to my left, shooting the
windows out of the car in front me. These two individuals, I
found out later, had gotten into an argument with the owner
of the 99-cent store next to my pharmacy. They had come
back, after being thrown out of the store, to shoot him. The
car parked in front of mine was the store owner's car, and
so they shot its windows out because the owner had
temporarily gone out and was not around.
I realized any one of those two individuals could have easily
aimed incorrectly and shot me by mistake through the
window of my own car. Especially the shooter on the
bicycle. I could have easily been killed in error.
At that very moment, I decided I was going to forget all of
my plans for the store, close it down, and get a job in a
pharmacy in New Jersey, where I resided. And I did just
that. It was the best move I ever made.
I sold all of the pharmaceuticals to neighboring pharmacies,
as well as the other merchandise. On June 30, 1997, I
closed the store, gave the landlord the keys to the
pharmacy, and I left the Bronx. Well, left as far as the
business was concerned. Most of my family still reside
there, so I visit as often as I can.
I won't go into detail, but my wife and I separated.
I attended my first poetry contest sponsored by Poetry.com,
attended my first poetry convention held by The
International Society of Poetry, and even though I didn't win
the contest, I was hooked again on writing and poetry.I
wrote The Murder of Ravens, the sequel to Edgar Allan
Poe's The Raven.
note: I will add a short story later on about how this poem
My first book of poetry was published in March and became
available to the public July 1, 2005.
2007 I hope to have my second book of English poetry out
and my first book of Spanish poetry as well before the
|A VERY SMALL SAMPLE OF MY WORK
A Reason for Rhyme
I want my rhymes to weep and sing—
express nostalgia and desire;
thrust fluid verses from the spring
which flood the gates of Dante’s fire.
I want to sculpt my words of stone,
so each, when chipped, in fine detail,
may find a soul to spark its own,
and like Rodin’s pure art, prevail.
I want to brush my verses faint
with hues from Autumn’s falling tears,
and in Monet’s own Garden paint
impressions of immortal years.
I want to hear the spraying foam
from where fair Venus rose above,
and from her footprints on the loam
see rise the rhymes of mortal love
I want to tame my verses wild
the way the cowboy tames his steeds,
then ride into the sunset mild,
with lasso ‘round my tumbling weeds.
I want to live in days of old,
when Nymphs and Muses plucked the heart,
and lit the torches brave and bold,
with fire from the rhyming art.
But most of all, I want to teach
all children in the here and now,
that all the forms are theirs to reach,
if masters verse to show them how.
For every dawn there’s end of day,
and like the rest, I’ll serve my time.
But rest assured, the world will say:
”Morales gave his life to rhyme.”
ISP recording contract winner August 2005
The Winds of Freedom
‘Twas summer of seventeen-fifty-three—
The Iv’ry Coast turned an ebony sea.
Man Cager, well laden with flesh, set sail
To the rattle of chains and, "Wail! Wind wail!"
The captain, Ben Gravely, master of pain,
Each shadow thrashed he again and again!
All thought him a ghost so wicked and pale,
As he prayed to the Devil, "Wail! Wind wail!"
All dark flesh puckered out gashes of red—
So shot were the eyes in Ben Gravely’s head.
Oh, how brown limbs struggled to no avail,
For their chains kept clamoring, "Wail! Wind wail!"
Princes of Abidjan lay down to cry
For Princesses raked by the Devil’s eye.
They prayed for the breath of a mighty gale
To steal from the captain his, "Wail! Wind wail!"
And Princesses wept, both deeply and well,
For their flesh was bound to the core of Hell!
No mercy was given by lust or ale,
As long as Ben Gravely yelled, "Wail! Wind wail!"
A cloud of seagulls flew over the main
While sharks made frenzy to their wild refrain.
Dark freedom stripped like the blubber of whale
Brought cheers from the crew and a, "Wail! Wind wail!"
Then a chant arose like a Panther's growls—
A roar far greater than the wind that howls!
Captain and crew were all thrust to the rail,
And from sea to sky they heard, "Wail! Wind wail!"
The skies grew darker than bile of a witch—
Man Cager cracked under tossing and pitch!
Over the crew ran a darkening veil,
While the Iv’ry Coast chanted, "Wail! Wind wail!"
The Devil took Gravely, sharks took the rest.
“Twas a day all men were put to the test,
And alone I survived to tell this tale,
And if my death means freedom, well then—
"WAIL! WIND! WAIL!"
My wide-eyed child and I know of colorful things
that dip and skim over summer hills and meadows,
of fancy freedom held aloft by wispy wings,
of frail, orange petals edged in ebon shadows.
From grassy beds, between Oaks and Weeping Willows,
my little garden walker and I greet the sky—
an azure floor sprinkled with fluffy white pillows,
all spot-lit by the yellow ball squinting the eye.
And the dance commences—a Monarch’s pirouette!
Then a plié and rise on the breath of the breeze!
How my wide-eyed child laughs at the King’s minuet,
while I smile at my heart soaring over the trees.
My wide-eyed child—where’s the chrysalis you slept in?
When did the spark of spring melt down old winter snow?
Wise for spring not to tarry where my mind has been,
for summer craves the rainbow and the Monarch’s glow.
My wide-eyed child—I know the wonders of your flight,
for I have seen the hills and meadows of my day.
Humbled is the breeze by the strength of your wings!
Dance by summer’s light!
And I will keep our garden well, until my winter comes to stay.
Fifth place winner ISP convention August 2004
Full Circle (Traditional)
Not a thing on Earth to Heaven rises.
No bird, not gold, nor any vesture worn,
but the soul…divested of its guises.
Wisdom strikes the man who realizes
finality is nakedness unborn—
for nothing of the flesh to Heaven rises.
Fleeting are the ways of earthly prizes,
for even they, when from the body torn,
leave the flesh divested of its guises.
Poverty is what the flesh despises.
But poverty is but an earthly thorn,
and not a thing on Earth to Heaven rises.
I’ll make for my own sake my sacrifices
and seek to know myself as I was born…
for when my soul is freed of all its guises.
The soul who shares my laughter and my cries is
the one whom, upon my death, I’ll come to mourn,
for nothing left on Earth to Heaven rises
but the boundless soul…stripped of all disguises.
Tetrad of Sonnets One: Passion
I of IV
The spark that lights the heart inflames the eye
with sparkle stars must envy and adore.
This sight of love-at-first brings passion nigh,
and scorches every lover to the Core.
Thereafter, lover and beloved dance
as one—in touch, in sight, in lips consumed.
The Moon is ever brighter for romance,
The Sun resplendent, flowers more perfumed.
Such splendid agony when all is new!
The agony! when fingers long to touch!
And lovers must imbibe their lover’s brew,
For in that nectar, Life has poured so much.
Beginnings know that passion must begin
When sparkling eyes reveal the fire within.
Beloved's ample beauties overflowed,
And stretched vivid the imagination;
And swelled natural my predilection
To nuzzle in a flower so peak endowed.
Her ravenous, moist, and biting lips threw
My soul into a river I adore,
And rabidly laid promise to outpour
The essence every orchid strives to brew.
Such sweet aching charged her musky lair!
I left her moaning lips for muted lips—
Where tongue and lips indulged in fleshy sips—
While maiden petals breathed the lusty air!
Oh! Well knew east and west Beloved's knees,
While headed north to south, my love and I!
Where forcefully we lingered, sigh for sigh,
'til frantic hips released our tortured tease.
The nectar flowed between her supple hills,
And brought her momentary peace of mind;
She quivered like a leaf inside the wind,
So tempered by the storm and heaven spills.
I—reveled in our tantalizing deaths!
But reveling brought reveling anew!
And newly my beloved sought to brew
Her nectar, stilled from passion's burning depths.
Beloved turned a Kama Sutran page—
And then another, and another still!
Until I lost control, along with will,
And noisily embraced her mounted rage!
And in the end, what more can two lives give?
But every drop of life to full extent—
The Orchid dies when Nature's dew is spent,
And spending is to conquer death—and live!
|WHO IS THIS