"Express yourself completely, then keep quiet.” --Tao Te Ching
Pretty blue writing book that came to me from somewhere, that someone may have given me in my hands to fill with words to express where I was, or am at that moment or this, or wanted to go to, and might, if we find a cheap flight or, better, drive with whatever belongings we feel we can’t live without for the duration, the duress, of being away from the place where we live mostly, and most.
How about if I just start?— mosquito-spray perfume on my hands, the dog next door making demands, September partly cloudy for some unseasonable reason— although I’ll take it, as Studs Terkel would advise when he was alive and on live radio. But let’s not dwell sentimentally on the past or passing, as my brain likes to do when put on “automatic.” My sinuses are stopped, throat raw, mind somewhat spacey, but I do feel a breeze rubbing my face and enjoy watching the swaying rows of tiny locust leaves draped over the cinderblocks that cement my enclosure, my space and angle on the world, the world I hear driving by, just past the house, quietly now, but to pick up at lunchtime. As for me, there’s nothing I have to do, nowhere to go. Right here was always the best place anyway and I’ve arrived, work-tools in hand, or head: notebook and pen, eyes, memory, words.
Inside this enclosure of leaves, pickets, and cinderblocks, I ruminate, while a dove pecks at the fleas under his wing, rolls his neck & head, then continues to perch on the trellis. He has nothing
to do either, except live, which is mostly perching these days; in my case, under a tree, beneath the September sun that’s been
coming up later each morning, while the radio in the bedroom was blabbing, and my body was refusing to crawl out of bed, preferring to rub up against the warmth next to it for just a little while longer.
--à la Ted Berrigan
Take the glasses off, put them down (I can read without them anyway), see the world manifested in a few backyard trees, faded pickets, bits of houses, and a leaning, giant yucca (to add sex appeal) this Election Day, such perfect weather I don’t care who wins (“we’re all winning, we’re alive,” said Frank O’Hara), Jill volunteering at Democratic Party Headquarters, calls people to remind them to go vote, put politicians in so they’ll become incumbents and be voted out, with no big change, though things were fine already—the cloudless sky, leaves that turn colors, fall, and decorate “the ground we walk on”— to go inside, warm up some coffee (with a cookie), take a nap.
In between all this ruminating, there are times to be alive you take for granted, such as going for “second breakfast” because you’re hungry and want the pleasure of eggs with hash browns and sausage set down before you by the waitress, the coffee warmed with a smile, while you watch the trucks go by outside.
-- Joseph Somoza retired from college teaching (New Mexico State University) and editing (Puerto del Sol) some years ago to devote more time to writing. He now sits in his back yard most mornings and tries to educe a poem his way. He has published four books and four chapbooks of poetry over the years, most recently SHOCK OF WHITE HAIR (Sin Fronteras Press, 2007). He lives in Las Cruces with wife Jill, a painter.