Espada’s work is derived from a place of nostalgic feeling and a push to show others how life was for him. With stories about family, the area he grew up in, and the conditions of those around him. His poems show how conditions were not the best, but people found happiness in their own way. In “Imagine the Angels of Bread,” the shocking depicting of how people have been leaving is supposed to leave a sour taste in your mouth. It’s supposed to fill you with slight rage for the injustices described. “This is the year cockroaches become extinct, that no doctor finds a roach embedded in the ar of an infant” (Page 118, Espada), the terrifying truths people live out and stated harshly for all to read. Espada gives a look into how bad it can get and how good it makes the people who come out of it.
Espada has a disrespect for the authority around him, and for good reason. With judges persecuted without reason. Police beating and arresting just due to appearance. Landlords turning off electricity and plumbing, making tenants miserable. Experience makes opinion and the way authority has been treating him and those around him is sickening at least and evil at most. “Like Mrs. Alfaro, evicted when she trapped ten mice, sealed them in plastic sandwich bags and gifted them to the landlord” (Page 37, Espada). The treatment of a mother and her children was crminal, yet the victims were the ones treated as such.
The local life was vibrant with poems depicting family and how close the people around them are. Even in the poems about injustice (such as “Trumpets from the Islands of Their Eviction) people are still shown helping each other and sticking up for one another. That closeness came from hard life and unfair circumstances. Inner-city life is hard with prejudice, rats, bills to pay, little food, and police brutality. Yet, through all these awful things the sense of belonging comes from being in the same boat as your neighbor. The kindness expressed through grief and strife brought him closer to neighbors, friends, and family.
His depiction of local life is horrifying to imagine, but the people within it are kind and gentle souls. Espada does a fantastic job of making you root for those within the poem and sympathize with them. I believe his poetry is illuminating and enlightening.