Two Poems

by Jose Padua

ON THESE DAYS DRIVING

Perfection is all those horrible old love affairs
they tell their latest lover about in bed as they smoke
cigarettes, together and laughing in the darkness.
Perfection is all those bad years spent starving,
mad, aimless, before finally finding a way, through
chance or struggle, to make it.
Perfection is the moment when the worst
is behind you and the best slowly reveals itself
like a song from decades ago that only now
is becoming a hit.
 
I confess that I’ve got it all
ass-backwards, that perfection is beyond me
and my best was long ago
with the worst now revealing itself
like the dream you can’t remember,
the dream that leaves you gasping for air
as you sit up,
scared and alone,
staring out into the infinite darkness.
 
I never liked perfection,
I never tried to make the pieces
fit neatly, cleanly, exactly.
 
I always liked the team that worked
the hardest,
yet blew it in the end
and came in second,
the movie star who grew old and crazy,
forgot her lines and faded away . . .
it was something about the blemish on her cheek,
the hint of insanity,
the look on the players’ faces,
which out of lame stupidity
or brave wisdom, seemed to say
that things just weren’t right.
 
And though there hasn’t been
a day in the last twenty or so years
when I haven’t at least
considered the possibilities
of jumping out a fifth floor window
or throwing myself into the middle
of rush hour traffic
on the interstate,
 
I don’t.
 
So if you see me
in the late evening
or early morning
walking the streets, looking up
for shadows in the facades of buildings,
or on the road driving past
The International House Of Pancakes,
The Food Lion, and The Best Western
by the airport
ready to swerve,
just keep in mind
that as far as
I know I’m on the right highway
and moving in the right direction,
with the gray and white signs
leading me westward
into the deep, imperfect blue
of heaven on
earth.

 

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A TINY BUFFALO

The worst bar
                               I ever walked through
was a space called
                               The Caliente Cab Company
It was like an amusement park
except there were no rides
             and nothing was funny.
 
I liked the simple places better,
places with a jukebox you could play your
favorite oldies on where no one
was tempted to sing along.
Places where the women who were
wearing too much makeup knew it
and kept quiet and to themselves.
Places where the cheap drinks
and cheap barstools made you
feel, for a moment, like a rich man.
 
But there’s hardly a place left now
     that doesn’t try to make you part of the meal
part of the glamorous
and exciting nighttime experience.
     Industry, having absorbed
even our genuine moments of drunkenness,
     has tied us naked
      to its perfect image of us
until the only thing natural
left inside is blind rage
     or the urge to kill.
 
And I think
I’lI never fall in love again
and I’ll never walk
through a park again
and I’ll never eat popcorn
at the movies again
and I’ll never
see a baseball game again
and I’ll never get married
and I’ll never have kids
and I’ll never
phone an old friend again
and I’ll never miss anyone again
      And on these days
of heavy drinking
      When there’s no hope left
and no river of enchantment
      and I’ve grown tired of living
in a city full of giants,
       I’ll get back on the bus
and take my chances
      eating fast food by the roadside
and sleeping
      in the company of strangers,
 
      People like me
who’ve nothing left to come to
     and are looking
for the cheapest
     way
     to go.  
 
Jose Padua’s The Complete Failure Of Everything (poems)—out on Apathy Press, Baltimore. He is currently working on a novel.

BOMB 43
Spring 1993
The cover of BOMB 43
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