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Take a Giant Step

By Jose Padua

All the out of business auto body shops
on this slow highway, all the abandoned
buildings with peeling paint, the vacant
lots overgrown with junk trees and weeds
bounded by chain link fences, all the things
we could never fix and threw away, all
the insane metaphors for living, the fake
equation of ideas, the pretty words that
soar today in a shallow heart as wisdom
before giving way to tomorrow's clever
observation, commandment, or list
of the neglected and overrated, and all
the shut ups and neverminds we breed
with our lips because we have never been
upon the verge of either idiocy or genius.
This is not where you belong, alone in this
tiny town without mending, this is not
the long endless line that waits for an exit
out of city sleep, this is not the thick wall
you can't hear through. So go, like everything
that has decayed before us, everything that has
shattered so beautifully, go into that street
like a man crashing a parade with smelly clothes
and dirty skin, go into that building that's on fire
because the sky is full of smoke and you are water.

Added: Thursday, July 3, 2014
Jose Padua

Jose Padua was born in Washington, DC, in 1957. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Bomb, Salon.com, Exquisite Corpse, Another Chicago Magazine, Unbearables, Crimes of the Beats, Up is Up, but So Is Down: New York's Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992, and many other journals and anthologies. His manuscript, Here Comes the Monster, was runner-up for the Many Mountains Moving Poetry Prize. After living in big cities like Washington and New York all his life, he now lives in the small town of Front Royal, Virginia, where he and his wife, the poet Heather Davis, write the blog Shenandoah Breakdown. Padua appeared on the panel The Care and Feeding of the Rural/Small Town Poet-Activist at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation and Witness 2010.

Other poems by this author