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Posts Tagged ‘poems about life’

I don’t like finding the dead bodies of insects

anywhere ‘round my house.

Don’t get me wrong, I smash and swat and kill

the little buggers when they trespass on my space.

They are disgusting after all, and especially to me;

when I consider how alien they seem,

but still share my ancestry.

 

How I hate thinking that they still foment

within their genetic recipe

the blueprints for my symmetry.

 

No, my distaste for finding the leftover husks

of dried out insects comes from the deep

realization that I share that fate with them.

 

That their grotesque beauty should be

so fragile in the end, and so easily extinguished,

left without ceremony, to be collected in a dustpan.

 

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2016. All rights reserved.

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cropped-the-view.jpg

We look across the flat lands of New Mexico,

from a seat on the Sandilla Mountains.

It is near sunset and the whole scene looks red

and reminds me of a blazed clay shell

occasionally interrupted by the jutting of an

ancient cordillera spine. It is the backbone

of the native western earth; it is where the sun

was stored at night for safekeeping, away from

the Old World’s shores. We watch low clouds

cross below us, stoking the hard earth with

their shadows, and I imagine they must cool

whatever life there is down there. It is hard

to see anything but red, red earth. Hard to

imagine anything good growing here.

And she just sits next to me in silence, too.

Looking out and imagining who knows what.

She is quiet and unwilling to pose for a picture,

unwilling to participate in the pure illusion of a moment.

Instead she sits next to me looking out at the horizon,

like a person sitting at the bottom of the ocean

wanting air.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2014. All rights reserved.

* NOTE ABOUT THIS POEM: This poem was originally written in 1994 and is about one of my favorite personal pictures. The picture was taken by my friend, Camille Pansewicz, and it is of my future wife and I from behind, looking out across the horizon. There are too many reasons why this picture is one of my all time favorites to explain here. The poem is not one of my faves, but it is a reminder that writing is like taking a picture with words.

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You know

the many reasons

that we named you Gabriel;

.

arriving in the world

when and how you did

according to a fashion

unguided by the stars

directed by the chances

of who and what we were

.

I know my story states

there is no grand designer,

there is no author penning

lines for you to say

there are no demons coming

or angels to save the day

.

and I cannot use the devil

or eternal damnation

to turn you away

from the “dark side”

… what they call temptation

.

now that you have

no use of a soul

or a search for salvation

to easily tell you

what’s wrong

and what’s right

.

now that you know

that we may be alone

in this corner

of space and time in the night

 .

now that you’ve learned

of the treasures we’ve earned

as social loners

making culture and learning to write

.

now you’ve been told

all the monsters before

were imagined and less deadly

than the monsters we know

.

now that I’ve shown you

in form and in poem

in lines and at home

through kindness

and failure and flaws

what little I know

of the nature of laws

.

I am sure you too

you will find yours.

.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2011. All rights reserved.

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There are shows nowadays

          that let us ride along

safely from our homes

          with the kind of people

who cast an imprint on the flat world

          that you and I travel on.

My uncle, the sailor, for example,

          who got a tattoo in the Navy

before they became crackerjack stickers

          or cheap substitutes for personality

was one of those who marked the earth

          with his work and left behind a hurt

now that he’s gone past horizons

          we cannot yet get to;

and we are left at the pier, standing by an edge

          measuring the air with everyone around

until we are met with what we can recall –

which are all the pieces of the world

          he scraped off with his fingertips

and nails to bring home

          and mix with the salt of our meals.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.

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pa’ mi mami

.

The first guests, my godparents,

turn the corner to begin their walk

down the driveway,

.

          (50 feet of uneven pavement

                framed between

                     my parents’ home and

                the Chinese neighbors

                        who’ve thrown away

                            a grocery bag of garbage

                     every week for 20 years)

.

… a ceremonial walkway for the invited

.

the gate left open to let what used to be

          a flood of relatives through …

but we are older

          and have lost a few to the earth

and others to unresolved conflicts

.

               (Even today, on my mother’s 60th

                         a new injury will be born

                when my middle brother

                        fails to celebrate with us)

.

I could see now, clearly what we had become

          as my father greeted his compadre and comadre,

my youngest brother,

                        (a suit wearing executive during the week,

                        in his weekend barrio wear;

                        pressed khakis & ultra-brite white tee)

pulling green plastic chairs for them to sit.

.

My godparents are frail,

          like half the crowd who will come today,

guests with measured steps and canes,

          and more still that come locked in arms

with the same person I remember them with

          from my childhood.

.

The music, Ecuadorian ballads mixed with

          Puerto Rican merengue and other

tunes from the roots of our America

.

                        (that faraway south

                                  painted in greens and grays and decorated

                        with eyes and teeth that strike out

                                  like stars in the night sky; smiling mouths

                        stuffed with bacalao and ceviche

                                  and full of laughter and Spanish)

.

Here too, the food is ready,

          paid for by my brother,

prepared by memories of my mother and

           abuela in the kitchens of the past;

my hands mix the red cebollas

          and lemons and limes and

               cilantro into nearly everything.

Everywhere there is pepper and garlic

                        mixing into the smoke dancing

                                                from the three grills we have going.

.

We brought together again,

          those people we only see at funerals now,

to celebrate what they had started

          before we existed;

leaving their childhoods behind

          they ventured out of sand dunes

and into snowstorms, unheralded;

           they traded their tiempo, every last

minute measured by train tokens

          and time cards they punched;

measured by checks that paid them

          only for their output and

never considered what they were

          really giving back to the dream

that is this America.

.

They sat around now

          frail, but victorious,

eating gumbo and platanos,

          arroz y gandules, barbecued chicken

camarones, hot dogs and

          hamburgers, topped with

ketchup and salsa picante, listening

          to the sounds of the past

exploding today in celebraccion.

.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.

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“Why didn’t you use my computer

          while I was gone,” asks my oldest son,

“seems like common sense,” he implores,

          and perhaps it is.

.

He is older than his ten years and it’s getting harder

          to explain how things work in the universe.

I sit him down and remind him of the noise

          known as the deep field, the background

radiation left over from the Big Bang.

.

He knows this story,

          so I skip ahead and tell him again

how it takes a while for a star to burst

          for planets to form around the star

how long it takes for satellites or moons

          to form around planets

and how all this happens because

          stars are so dense they pull reality

towards them, around them

          until they have a million things circling …

.

“I couldn’t keep track today,”

          I tell my boy, “of this little asteroid you’re making”.

.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.

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now that I remember you

          stopping me           to ask for directions

          opening          the          map           and

          having me                      hold one side

        while you went to work

    under cover,

let me apologize

               for only having           twelve dollars (12) cash

and warn you

               against trying to use any of the credit cards

          because they were maxed out

                    months ago

            and are part of the bankruptcy now

— I only carry them around to feel

                   less broke than I am, and

                         really you can have them.

You will find the Barnes & Noble

gift card is still worth its full

value of twenty five dollars

     but the Dunkin Donuts card

     has less than a cup of coffee’s

     worth left on it … I believe the 2

     Cracker Barrel gift certificates

     have expired, even though

     they don’t have a printed expiration

     date on them.

The rest of the cards, my driver’s license,

my work ID, my library card

and such, may be valuable to you

if you are not just a pickpocket

but gifted in forgery as well.

If you do try to pass as me,

here are a few pointers to help.

My last name is tricky,

so practice spelling and

pronouncing it, and be sure

to stress the vowels. Also

my mother’s maiden name

was Diaz and I never had a

childhood pet. All my passwords

are the same and they

contain a Latin quote and

the most beautiful part of the

Fibonacci sequence. Lastly,

I’d like to ask that you please

return to me the lock of hair I

carried with me (it belongs

to my first son from his

first haircut) and the clear

piece of plastic next to it

(I’ll explain that one later).

And thank you for leaving

behind something worth telling.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.

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