Real History Is Never Made

Photograph by Jose Padua
Real history is never made by those
with the incredible machines, but by
those with the beautiful words. The first
moon walk would be nothing if there
were no one to say “one small step
for man, one giant leap for mankind,”
even though we sometimes have trouble
remembering the exact words. The well-
oiled machine of our nation wouldn’t have
felt so new if Lincoln had said it was
begun eighty-seven year ago by some
white guys, instead of declaring, “Four
score and seven years ago, our fathers,
brought forth on this continent, etc, etc.”
A war epic would be a just another
long film with explosions and Martin Sheen,
and the Philippines standing in for Vietnam,
without the words “I love the smell of napalm
in the morning.” Machines you can make
with numbers and tests and prototypes.
There’s no use in trying to write a prototype
for the sonnet you want to write, you
simply have to try to write it. Poetry
has no smell, you have to feel that victory,
that loss, the language. It can wrap around
you like a bandage, it can pierce your
heart like a knife. And close the skin you breach.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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