Monday, July 21, 2014

Two Poems by Jose Padua


I am a passenger on a train called Gravity,
my feet are plunging toward the Earth,
my moustache is losing its hairs as I fall,
my nose feels like it’s being inflated.
No wait, I am the pilot of a ship called
What the Fuck, and I don’t know how
to steer and I don’t know where I am
going. Or I am an infection on the ass
of that percentage of America’s youths
who are clueless. I don’t kill them
but I make them do dumb things to
relieve the annoying pain, like listen
only to music that has a certain number
of beats per minute, or sniff bath salts
to get high, or stay awake all night being
revolting with thinking about revolt.
Sometimes I am a sponge, soaking up
the lotion, the spilled nail polish, the
sickly sweet soft drinks, the bodily
fluids that somehow escape the hold
of industrial strength adult diapers.
Man, that’s gross, and I’m gross, too.
But I’ve been a puppet, a pauper,
a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king,
which means I was once Frank Sinatra,
telling you to get out of my face, Jack,
after a show, and while you’re up get me
a martini, and I was also a woman in Vegas
dressed in nothing but silver dollars
and a smug, almost witless grin. And
I was Mothra, Godzilla, the Hideous
Sun Demon, a killer shrew from
the island of The Killer Shrews,
but best of all I was King Kong.
Ah, Kong, he was huge, he was scary,
he was a monster. I was huge, I was
scary, I was a monster. But above all
I was a love story, the only kind of
love story you’re going to get nowadays,
the only love story you can afford,
so close your eyes, rest your hands
in your laps, my friends. Yes, listen
closely to these words, because I am
your friend, and I am sitting next to you
here on this train.

Ride a White Swan

It’s 1968 and I’m high on something
someone said today in class about
dinosaurs, how Tyrannosaurus Rex
was the king of them, how he seemed
to soar into almost space with his head
full of teeth and hunger. These words
make me feel like the end of a long
equation that used to confuse me,
the response to the question to which
I could never listen because I was
busy thinking about the distance
between me and the door. And
the person speaking was me,
at about the age of eleven when
for some reason, maybe it was eating
more mangoes and less cheese,
I stopped staring out the window
and looked at my teacher because
I didn’t have to hide and because
I knew what the answer was all
along. If this were today, before
I’d achieved the clarity of mangoes,
the doctor might have recommended
that my parents pump me up with pills
to make me focus, to make me take part
in the society of youths who pay proper
attention to the more boring parts
of their childhood. But in 1968 the air
is becoming breathable again, and my love
for the world that surrounds me
is becoming a car, driving away
from all the other children, leaving them
behind like the dust the people who used
to live in the house I lived in then
left behind when they left and
we moved in.

Jose Padua's poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in many journals, newspapers, and anthologies. After living in big cities like Washington and New York all his life, he now lives the small town of Front Royal, Virginia where he and his wife, the poet Heather Davis, write the blog Shanondoah Breakdown

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