The Birthday Party

Photograph by Jose Padua
For my birthday this year I will
walk twenty miles away from the sunset or
until I am too tired to chase the sunlight
any longer, whichever comes first.
I will tell stories to the devil so scary that
he or she will disappear into a cave for a week
and write apologies to everyone he’s harmed
before he comes out again to fuck with us.
I will invent a new word that means
the same as chrysanthemum and will be
just as hard to pronounce when you’re
totally drunk at closing time in a bar
that smells like roasted peanuts
and stale air conditioning. I will
consider the ways I might spread joy
among the astronauts who while traveling
through space have actually come to miss
the effects of gravity when responding
to questions from their fellow astronauts
about what animal they would most like to be
if they had to be an animal instead of human.
On my birthday I will clear a path for world peace
that will cut right through the living room
of a man who has just renovated a house
downtown that he plans to flip despite
the still sluggish real estate market.
I will buy all the corn chips from the shelves
of a convenience store and make corn chip pie
crusts to use for all my upcoming holiday baking
projects. I will wear blue pants, blue shirts,
blue underwear, a blue overcoat, blue gloves,
and a scratchy old blue knit cap so I might
blend in with the sky at the time of day
when it’s at its bluest. And when it’s my birthday
I will carry these young birds that have fallen
from the nest, then climb up the tree in an effort
to convince their mother to take them back,
just in case she wasn’t going to already,
and because I have so much to learn regarding
the behavior of birds and other things that spend
at least some of their time occupying the sky.
I will walk tall among the reeds and wild animals
of both swamp and forest, pushing forth
through the brush back toward the city
singing this—my swirling, dancing, ten-acre
song about clocks pulled up from the rubble
of the distant past, then held up to the light
and smashed. And I will break free from the
old. The out-of-tune pianos that were chained
to my ankles and my wrists by the master of
ceremonies at the moment this party began.
I will shake off the iron links from ripped-apart
chains. They will fall from my hands like candy
at a parade. I will scatter the hammers and strings
of busted pianos by the pavement as I pick up
speed, making my way toward the interstate.
I will find another instrument to play.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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