Monthly Archives: June 2016

On Driving up Stonewall Jackson Highway with the Intention of Declaring Sovereignty Over the Surrounding Territories

Photograph by Jose Padua
On a slightly rainy
Tuesday evening
in the valley
I drive with the windows
rolled down
and the stereo
turned up loud
to Ella Fitzgerald
singing “Blue Skies”
as I look up
toward the mountains
through the thickness
of the rustic dark
to think briefly
about the splendor
of the landscape
and unhurried motion
of days
before turning around
and slowly driving
back home.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

Guns and Cleavage

Photo by Jose Padua
These past two weeks
whenever I walk by the magazine rack
at the supermarket
down the street
I’ve noticed that
there’s always a magazine
that’s been flipped over
so the ad on the back
is displayed
and not the cover
on which when
I first turned it around
was a photograph
of model Kate Upton
revealing a generous amount of cleavage
on the cover of the October issue
of Vanity Fair
and I gathered that the person
or persons
who keep turning the magazine
over face down
are one of the many folks
in this small
conservative town
who are probably scandalized
by so much exposed flesh.
Me, I’m not bothered
by it at all,
because to me
flesh is something divine
and mystical and
whatever reminds me
of this is never offensive
and never indecent,
and even if you think it immodest
I find other things
much more disturbing
in the grand scheme
of living in cities or villages,
towns or country roads
or hidden clearings
in unmapped and unknown forests
on a planet
with over seven billion
other human beings,
so last night,
after turning the magazine over,
cleavage side up,
I walked down to the next
rack of magazines to
where the stack
of Guns & Ammo
“The World’s Most Widely Read Firearms Magazine”
was displayed,
and I turned the magazine over
only to find that on the back cover,
unlike Vanity Fair
where there was an ad for perfume,
was an ad featuring
more pictures of guns and rifles
and automatic weapons,
so I found a nearby copy
of Field and Stream,
which just had a picture
of a moose on the cover,
and I put that on top
of the pile of Guns & Ammo
only to see that next to it
was a stack of Guns magazine
(just guns, no ammo),
and next to that a stack
of Handguns magazine,
and figuring that the moose
on the cover of Field & Stream
probably got shot
right after the photo was taken,
I decided to just
give up on this sad protest,
and I got in line
to pay for my baby wipes
and brown rice
and yogurt
in a world where
too many people believe
in the divinity of guns
and the indignity of cleavage
and breasts and flesh
and goddamn true love
and all the other things
that keep us alive
without killing
something else first.

-Jose Padua

Photo by Jose Padua

An Existential Traffic Update for the I-81 Corridor, June 22, 2016

RoadSign_20160520_200403_EditTwo
The Burger King down the block
is open during renovations
and the man who
got shot several times
at his house a few streets away
on Saturday night
survived
and is in stable
condition at a hospital
in the next town north
of here,
all of which is
a sign that business
is as usual
and the only
delays you will
experience will be
unexpected ones
which will be dealt with
on a case by case
basis.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

Restraint

Photograph by Jose Padua
It takes great effort
on my part,
walking the colorful,
tree-lined streets
on these fresh
and beautiful
new spring days,
not to turn to
the next person
coming my way,
or crossing my path
without saying,
“What if we’re
all screwed?”

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

Where I’m From and Where I’ll Wander to Until the End of Time and Space

Photograph by Jose Padua
When the time is right—which means after
the leaves have begun to sprout into dark budding leaves
and the ocean currents flow more warmly northward
like perfect storms from southern islands
and all my heart-beating, word-hammering work is done—
bury me in these United States in a manner
I see fit amongst my slightly brown, light brown,
and dark brown brothers and sisters on solid ground
as wide as a city and where there’s so many of us
that the powers that be start to quiver and shake
as if the deep mud upon which they stand is collapsing
with the quaking of their great white earth.
Roll away the rubbish of stars and bars
on battle flags, their sentimental dreams of
stepping on our backs and spitting in our faces,
and all our years of working for them rather than for us,
and all the yessirs and thankyousirs that ever passed
our thirsty lips, and every moment
our heads were bowed in prayer or fealty
and allegiance beneath the smooth skin of their hands.
Then rise the way lost land rises high to blue sky,
which bends down with the bursting of clouds
to wet kiss crumbled brick and fallen metal.
Rise with weeds and wild grasses as if waking
from centuries of deep sleep, rise like voices
when questions have been asked and the answer
is a bird with dark feathers perched upon a statue
commemorating the perpetrators of heinous deeds.
And walk these streets, knowing that what’s beyond
every sharp corner, behind every wooden door,
and under every leaky roof is another insane notion
cultivated by the inventors of regret; walk swiftly
as if dancing between bamboo poles while
stringed instruments control the melody;
walk until you reach the smooth curve and low hills
of the highway heading out of town because
this is where I’m from; this is how we wander.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

A Brief History from the Point of View of Our Captors

Photograph by Jose Padua
When they were savages
they had minds
full of rivers and mountains
that could plant bold ideas
like seeds and speech.
We, in the meantime,
hunted for heads down by the river,
wearing our enemy’s bones
like good luck charms in our pockets.
We were once savages, too,
but when we were savages
we were the chosen savages.
Savages with a mission
who created clean, beautiful histories
and elegant architecture.
Savages with wealth and philosophy
and a slow but practical process.
Which is why we say it’s time.
Eat with us or be eaten.
And rejoice for the bright, shining
days ahead.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

The Shape of Change to Come

Julien_20160301_163828_BW_Edit
When my five year old son
painting with water colors
on the scratched-up table
in the kitchen of our
hundred year old house
suddenly takes his
brush over to the stove
and explains that
he’s painting over
an old picture because
“it’s too white”
is when I realize
that at this
young age he
already understands
when and where
to make
change.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua