Friday, February 24, 2012

Jose Padua


Was it poetry that ate my desire to succeed,
and through failure that I succeeded in thinking
only horrible things, things so horrible that
poetry could never grasp, much less control them,
and out of chaos still leave nothing but chaos,
measured accidentally in words? These nights are like
Antarctic nights in short sleeves, the sound is nice but there

is no aroma, no touch before throwing down
the dice while tangled pieces of string dangle from my
fingers like theories that cloud one’s mind on sleep-
less nights. No poetry can lay its hands on this
to heal it, my lack of tone and the muscle that’s
required to lift a dark stone from the bottom
of a running river; this is the task of mud, this

is the sealed entrance, the leftover shell and
mirror. Before my life of horrible things, desire,
to me, was a hyena that stays just out of
reach of the lion’s teeth; it made me take big steps
ahead. I left jackals and wild dogs behind me,
any animal who could not understand me. My
bags were packed before I even knew I was moving;

the words I used led me to construe that the animals
and I are alive, living in separate worlds when
I am high, feeling my veins as gusts of wind and
my mind a snow-capped Everest. Before the horrible
things there was desire, the ambition to move
about the stage, stepping softly with my silver clipped
wings to keep me calm, on these my days of rage.



I must have been nine or ten when I first
wondered how I would leave the world when it

was time for me to leave the world. Would everything
be flat like glass in the future? Would the curves

on buildings disappear like the airplanes
that flew away from me to the world until

they were too small to see and I was too
far to catch them? When it was 1965

the 21st century seemed far away,
seemed not exotic but more like science

fiction or a Thursday night film like
The Island of the Killer Shrews or

The Hideous Sun Demon. When I was
young I had weird pains in my chest and one

night I even woke up shaking. And even
before all that I sometimes thought about

the end of the world, like at the New Year’s
Day party we always went to when we

were kids when I would have rather stayed home
than see that old guy with the big forehead

and the age spots on his nose. Now, going
into town for Christmas my daughter asks

for the song she calls “Twentieth Century
Go to Sleep,” as my wife feeds our son from

a bottle then puts it in her purse when he’s done,
and they all fall asleep as the winter sun goes down.


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