Ray Garcia, 65, is a Vietnam veteran, a limousine driver for exclusive customers and in his spare time, a poet.
Growing up, Garcia lived in many neighborhoods across the city, including the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and then finally settling in Ridgewood, where his father built a house.
He attended Bushwick High School and at the age of 18, Garcia worked in the mailroom for the ABC network and then NY Hospital developing X-rays before he got drafted into the Army.
After spending a year in Vietnam, Garcia was discharged. Shortly after, he enrolled in NYC Community College in Brooklyn and later transferred to SUNY Old Westbury, where he majored in cinematography.
“I met this girl at a Latin club who was a model and a student and she convinced me to go back to school,” Garcia said.
While at Old Westbury, he became very depressed, cynical and even suicidal. As a new student he found himself regularly behind the campus looking out onto the open fields where he said he yelled, “God, if you really exist, help.”
Later when he got back to his dorm, Garcia had a dream where he was the audience to a series of events which tapped into his subconscious and made him begin to write free-form.
After waking up, he said his life became engulfed with poetry. During this time he joined Alianza Latina, an artistic college ensemble which consisted of poets, dancers and drummers. Together, they visited colleges, high schools and other centers to perform.
Garcia’s poetry is mainly about social commentary, psychological issues and self-help. Inspirations for his poems come from a variety of people, things, ideas, or observations that trigger his writing process.
The poet has been working at London Town Cars, located in Long Island City, a family business that has been operating for 55 years.
He recited his poem for the first time to a female passenger who was in a state of depression, but this did not happen until after she spoke to him. “It is a company policy that you “don’t talk to a passenger unless they talk to you,” Garcia said.
“I’m good at reading people, I can tell through body language or tone of voice that they don’t want to be bothered,” he added.
Garcia has received positive feedback from his passengers about his poetry. He has had many top executives comment how excellent it is. One top executive of a company said about him: “Ray is a talented guy; he has a unique perspective on life.” Another executive told him, “I do not know what we are going to do with your poetry, but I know that I have to do something with it.”
Garcia is working on a book of poems, essays and anecdotes he expects to be titled “Inspired Writers.”
At the end of the interview, Garcia read one of his new poems called “Archives of Expression.”
Here is an excerpt: “Write about what you see and say how you see it and paint it in the best way in order to reveal it and play those gyrating rhythms so that we can redeem it.”