Pub. Date:
The Crazy Bunch

The Crazy Bunch

by Willie Perdomo


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Tuesday, October 26


From a prize-winning poet, a new collection that chronicles a weekend in the life of a group of friends coming of age in East Harlem at the dawn of the hip-hop era

Willie Perdomo, a native of East Harlem, has won praise as a hip, playful, historically engaged poet whose restlessly lyrical language mixes "city life with a sense of the transcendent" ( In his fourth collection, The Crazy Bunch, Perdomo returns to his beloved neighborhood to create a vivid, kaleidoscopic portrait of a "crew" coming of age in East Harlem at the beginning of the 1990s. In poems written in couplets, vignettes, sketches, riffs, and dialogue, Perdomo recreates a weekend where surviving members of the crew recall a series of tragic events: "That was the summer we all tried to fly. All but one of us succeeded."

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143132691
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/02/2019
Series: Penguin Poets
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Willie Perdomo is the author of three previous poetry collections: Where a Nickel Costs a Dime, a finalist for the Poetry Society of America's Norma Farber First Book Award; Smoking Lovely, the winner of the 2004 PEN Open Book Award; and The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Poetry, BOMB and The Common. Perdomo teaches at the Phillips Exeter Academy.

Read an Excerpt

In the Face of What You Remember
You remember, that was the summer of Up Rock, quarter water, speed knots, pillow bags, two-for-five, Jesus pieces, and Bambú. The Willie Bobo was turned up to ten, and some would’ve said that a science was dropped on our summer.
The summer that was lit with whispers of wild style, Rock Steady battles & white party plates made all kinds of moons on the playground foam.
The summer the Burner was used to eat & mandate, inspired Sunday sermons, became a literary influence with humming climaxes, a bribable tale, a dub tied to a string &  squashing beef wasn’t an option.
The summer of fresh shrills, and a future somersaulting off a monkey bar; a future placing bets that all us old heads, desperate to find a new cool, could not flip pure.
That was the summer that our grills dropped to below freezing.
Back then, Palo Viejo was thermal & therapy, bones were smoked in the cut, and you had to expect jungle gym giggle to be accompanied by buckshot.
That was the summer Charlie Chase hijacked megawatts from Rosa’s kitchenette, found gems in a milk crate, spun his one & twos below rims that still vibrated with undocumented double-dunks.
The same summer we became pundits & philosophers, poets & pushers; that we all tried to fly, but only one of us succeeded.
The summer that Papu turned up to extra status. The only one in the crew who had reduced fame’s window by a fifth when the camera panned his Cazal-laced Up Rock in the Roxy scene of Beat Street.
One could say we gave the Block gasp & gossip, body & bag, a folktale worth its morphology.
That was the season we had reason to rock capes & wings, chains & rings, some of us flew Higher than most, and tricks were hardly ever pulled from a hat; all that, & a bag of BBQ Bon Tons was enough for at least one of us to say,
I’m straight.

Table of Contents

The Poetry Cops (Consolidated Poetry Systems) xiii

In the Face of What You Remember 1

In the Face of What You Remember 3

Bad Habits 5

The Day of Our Founding 7

Head Crack Head Crack 9

The Poetry Cops 11

Some Things You Might Need to Start Your Day 13

We Used to Call It Puerto Rico Rain 14

At the Preparación 16

Juice & Butter 18

Dapper Dan Meets Petey Shooting Cee-Lo 20

Guiso at Florsheim's 22

The Poetry Cops 24

Triple Feature 25

Sucker for Love Ass Nigga 27

The Poetry Cops Talk with Phat Phil 29

Josephine's Sweet 16 31

At the Battle 33

The Poetry Cops 35

That's My Heart Right There 37

Sucker for Love Ass Nigga 38

The Poetry Cops Talk with Josephine 42

The Poetry Cops Talk with Nena, Cachita, Shameka, and Rosie 44

Close to the River 46

How It Went Down 48

Not for Nothing, Honestly & Truthfully 49

When Teddy-Up Rolls 50

No ID 52

Your Lose Something Every Day 55

You Lose Something Every Day 57

Revival 58

Where Did We Find the Laughter? 60

The Poetry Cops 62

Freshly Dipped 63

Each One Teach One 64

Forget What You Saw 67

Forget What You Saw 69

Forget What You Heard 75

The Poetry Cops 77

Forget What You Heard 78

Brother Lo on the Prison Industrial Complex 79

The Whole World on a Subway 81

Bullshit Walks 83

Drug War Confidential 85

A Spot Where You Can Kiss the Dead 87

Breaking Night 89

On Sundays 92

Trago 93

The Poetry Cops 94

The Poetry Cops 95

Killer Diller 96

To Be Down 97

Bust This, Run That 99

They Won't Find Us in Books 100

Ghost Face 102

The Poetry Cops 103

Shout-outs & Big Ups 105

Customer Reviews