Tag Archives: memory

A Routine Evaluation of My Accomplishments at a Late Stage in the Middle Part of My Career

Photograph by Jose Padua
Because of a mix tape I played for what
must have been a couple of decades, I can’t
hear Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover”
without expecting to hear T.S. Monk’s
“Bon Bon Vie (Gimme the Good Life)”
right after it. There were train rides when
I was so weary I’d fall asleep in minutes,
days when I was so sad flowers lacked
both scent and color. Meanwhile, weeks
were lost like socks with holes in them
and days recalled like harmful products
except there was no store where I could
take them back, no class action lawsuit
for squandered opportunities and essential
connections missed. These years of love
have sustained me far beyond anything
I ever could have imagined; a dusting to
an inch of snow overnight on cold asphalt
resulting in a two hour delay is all part
of the good life. A red light long enough
for me to take a picture of blue sky over
grey pavement is like a shot glass from
a roadside gift shop, another memory that
never diminishes. I admit I didn’t always
know this, just as I understand that there
are gaps in my resume that will never be
explained, and disturbances in my sleep
which, like having to go to the bathroom
at 4am, only briefly interrupt the dream.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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The River After David Foster Wallace

Photograph by Jose Padua
Every love story may be a ghost story but
some may also be stories about assassination
and greed, depending on who’s in love
and who the ghosts are and if one or both
or several of the people in love are responsible
for the ghosts being ghosts in the first place.
Sometimes the ghosts are wholly innocent;
other times they’re complicit in the slaughter
of innocents, chief architects of the perpetuation
and performing of unconscionable acts, ministers
of transgressive forgetfulness where robbery,
arson, and murder are examples of forgetting
and the demolition of funhouses and everything
housed within them, giving birth to the fearsome
dawn of advertising, vanity license plates, juices
derived from vegetables, the promulgation of
excessive irony and ambiguity in self-conscious
narratives and the proliferation of superficial
forms of living. Meanwhile, I have sat on damp
tennis courts to examine the sullen bouncing of
soggy balls, ridden lost highways in cars with tires
as bald as William Frawley, but most importantly
I have read all the books in the library on the
subjects of true love and intimidation and at best
felt my affection for these things unrequited.
I have studied detailed maps of the constellations
only to look up toward the heavens feeling
despondent and lost. Everyone loves a love story
although they don’t always know this, everyone
struggles through obstructions, acid rain, and the
turning on of television shows programmed by
the stooges and flunkies of oppressive regimes.
And every long embrace is also a call to arms,
the assertion that if all hostilities do not cease,
there is a force of nature with the power to settle
all scores, a river winding its way through the forest,
and the memory of everyone who’s ever been defeated.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua.
First published, in a slightly different version, at Vox Populi.

A Brief Meditation on All the Drinks That Made Their Way Down to My Gut

Photograph by Jose Padua
I remember it was Bobby Reilly
whose father owned the Irish bar
five blocks away who kneed me
in the stomach when I finally stopped
running around frantically on the
playground while the other kids in
fourth grade surrounded me chanting
“Chinese Checkers Chinese Checkers”
as a way I suppose of reminding me
where my people were from, and
though they got the continent right
they got the country wrong, not that
getting the facts straight is ever high
on the list of priorities of people at
any age who are trying to put you
in what they think is your proper
place. And though I grew up and
drank gloriously so many times and
sometimes at one beautiful noisy Irish
bar or another, I never went to the one
run by Bobby Reilly’s dad because
despite all the reasons I drank, drinking
to forget was never one of them, just as
the complete and easy healing of old
wounds was always a drunken tale
told for the benefit of the privileged.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua