Tag Archives: joy

A Brief Reflection on Joy and Alacrity for the New Year

Photograph by Jose Padua
Every now and then I think
about the times I’ve been
a total snot with people.
Sometimes it’s because
I’m really very shy,
other times it’s because
I’m really an arrogant snot.
It’s that simple. And though
the only one who needs
to know this is me I’m
telling it to you anyway,
because I am a magnanimous
snot, full of joy and alacrity,
and I am happy to be
your friend.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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How the Blues They Send to Meet Me Don’t Defeat Me and Other Easy-Listening Favorites

Photograph by Jose Padua
This is what it’s like living with me.
My wife, not feeling well but having
to work, works at home like me today
and sits across the table. “Do you need
quiet?” I ask, before I put on some music
because I always play music while I’m
working and the kids are at school and
she answers, “No, it’s OK,” and I say,
“I’ll put on something mellow,” and go
looking for the music I want to hear.
In a few minutes my music starts to play.
First there’s the sound of the keyboard
then a snare drum and a voice going,
“Nuclear war. Yeah. Nuclear war. Yeah.”
When Sun Ra starts singing, “It’s a
motherfucker, don’t you know, if they
push that button, your ass is gonna go,”
my wife starts to laugh. “What’s funny?”
I say. “This is mellow?” she asks. “But
it is,” I reply, because Nuclear War is
actually one of Sun Ra’s mellower records,
but it begins with that title cut. And I explain
how this was a song Sun Ra actually thought
he could have a big hit on the radio with,
and that the tune is completely catchy,
though it does have that “motherfucker” in
the chorus. “And plenty of big hits have
the word ‘motherfucker’ in them,” I explain,
though at the moment I can’t think of any.
“But wait,” I say, “for those of us who are
old enough to remember there was ‘Raindrops
Keep Falling on my Motherfucking Head;’
it was a big hit for BJ Thomas in 1969,”
but my wife doesn’t believe it. “It was big
on the country charts,” I say, but she doesn’t
budge from her state of incredulity and
secular disbelief. Then I make myself some
sausage and eggs, and when I’m done eating
I ask, “Do you want some?” as I look at
my empty plate, knowing that if she’s hungry
I’ll be right back in the kitchen, warmed by
the heat of the stovetop, and glowing like
the songs that forever fill my heart with joy.

-Jose Padua

Photo by Jose Padua of Maggie holding up her drawing of Sun Ra.

To My Daughter on the Eve of Our First Trip Together to New York City

Photogrph by Jose Padua
As you know by now I spent a lot of time there
drunk in smoky dive bars. There were too many
of them on the way to the museums, bookstores,
record shops, movies, plays, work, or my apartment
and if I didn’t hit the bars on the way there I hit them
on the way back and sometimes both on the way
there and on the way back because life was beautiful
like that then though less so than it is now. Which
isn’t to say that there isn’t still war and catastrophe
in the world nowadays, because of course there still
is and maybe there’s even more, and this isn’t to say
that as you grow older you won’t be thinking often
of these things, because you will and you’ll most
likely be thinking of them more often than those
who only think of what they can buy and what
they can do for fun, which isn’t to say that you’ll
never buy anything or think about what you can
do for fun because you will. But what you buy
and what you do for fun won’t be the only things
you think about and they won’t be the only things
you work for when you work. And though I hope
you never reach the frequency and levels of
intoxication I once did, I do wish you to know
the joys of intoxication, but especially the
intoxication of remembering, not forgetting,
and the joy of those intricate and difficult thoughts
that float through imagined space like specks
of dust in a sliver of sunlight that pokes through
the dark air of a dive bar at happy hour. And as
for the reason why the world is more beautiful
today than it was then, it’s because you are here
to add to it and not take away from it, like the
dream that was waiting to be dreamt in the back
of my mind in those drunk days before your
mother and I ever met. Before we started dreaming
together, waking each morning with new lines,
new stories, and new images that grew and grew
like better worlds shaped with great style but
simple grace; then like this, the expanding universe,
and you, they learned to change shape on their own.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

Joy

Photograph by Jose Padua
“I have a wee-wee,”
my daughter would
say when she was
two and then she’d
look at me and say
“you have a wagina.”
She knew it wasn’t
true, but she had
just discovered
either the joy of
reshaping the world
or of emasculation.
I’m not sure which.

-Jose Padua

In These Insufferable Dreams

Photograph by Jose Padua
In these insufferable dreams I am becalmed
by sweet monsters of joy—unfamiliar faces
that move with jagged motions as in an old
film, color photographs pulled from a wrinkled
envelope while standing beside a highway, or
a blue woman placing a yellow orchid on a red
guitar in a wooden room. What becalms me
is beyond speech, beyond symbol, and no one
recognizes it as joy, no one fathoms them as
monsters but me. These are my half-sleep dreams,
semi-formed subconscious demi-creations I control
every other evening when I fall asleep beneath a rain
of falling sweetbay. Nothing else rises like this,
nothing slides so suddenly with a frantic rushing and
a child’s impatience, yet there isn’t the slightest trace
of apprehension in my steady sleeping fingers.
What is insufferable is to move so calmly in one’s
sleep when one knows that one’s waking will
destroy all this and all that with incivility. This isn’t
to say that these dreams are polite, because in them
I am less so and am more a drunken night
on a collapsing marble floor. In the end I fall,
I forget, I leave tiny objects behind in my sleep
and I can’t reach back to grasp them with my hands.
When I wake the grass in the back is overgrown
with weeds; a deer skull hangs from a nail on the
wall inside the workshop and its floor decays
underneath a new roof. When I am cured it will
be unexpected. When I am better I will be
rearranged, like crumbs fallen from the table. I
bring a cup of water to my lips and drink. Dogs
are barking outside and a woman next door
opens and shuts her gate, rattling her fence. When
my eyes are open I fight against everything that
my waking erases, and only when I raise my
voice do I bring life to these dead spaces.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua