Tag Archives: mothers

A Million Steps for Gone Mothers

Photograph by Jose Padua
To all the mothers long gone, recently gone, or
taken in the last hours or minutes by greed,
tyrannical governments, bad luck, poverty,
sickness, and all manner of disadvantaged
circumstances and the deprivation of rights
and liberties and the agency of time, we say
stand up, rise up like heat seeking flowers,
piss on the walls, pull down the fences until
your oppressors start fleeing in disbelief and
with utter rancor. You who have given birth
to the best of us will watch whilst shouting
joyous imprecations. You who have been
looked over, glossed over, and otherwise
pushed aside are now treading the streets
with whatever footwear you feel like wearing.
These carnations are planted in your memory.
Their colors catch the light as if never letting go.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

Recollection During a Light Storm in the Valley

Photograph by Jose Padua
On 14th Street near Avenue B
I’m walking in New York City
during the short middle
of a long summer day
behind a lovely, young,
brown-skinned mother pushing
her child in a stroller
when a man in his late middle
age whose skin has seen
too much sun, too much wind
walks down the steps
with his eyes and says to her,
“Take that little rug rat home—
stick him in the oven”
with a satisfied sneer on
his wrinkled, leather face.
And the mother does what
she can, which is to keep
walking, keep ignoring
this ugly man and his
ugly joke and keep being
strong like only a mother
can be strong and so
I moved on down 14th Street,
around the corner,
and into my favorite bar on that block.
So many years before
I had children of my own,
so many miles away
from this beautiful, fall rain.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

For All the Drunk Mothers and All the Sailing Ships That Tremble like the Oceans on Which They Ride

Photograph by Jose Padua
I can’t see you in this confusion of skyscrapers,
you young drunk mothers of Manhattan, pushing
your strollers up and down the avenues

and sideways down the streets. What sails
above you are thought clouds filled with misspelled
but beautiful words of half-sleep wisdom; what lies

beneath you are three hundred years of dead city landscape,
a concrete mural of history written by outlaws and scam artists
before they collapsed under the weight

of the cold heavy blood in their veins;
corruption and murder, business as sleight of hand
to wrestle the downtrodden who rise, momentarily,

back down to the levels below ground,
to all the lower levels of loam and clay.
And we sell and sell this image of us

as saints who only occasionally sin and are sequestered
by class are then reformed like the newest billboard,
the new brand, and all our beautiful new ideas.

So you give birth like this, and you sail like that.
Everyone who came in on a ship is less likely to sail.
And I feel like a drunk again even when there’s only

black liquid and sugar in my cup,
because everything is a penumbra of dirt and filth,
crawling like ants around a discarded plate,

everything except that which floats or flies.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua