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Small World

I had the pleasure of meeting poet Luivette Resto this past Wednesday night at The Ugly Mug Coffeehouse, where she read from her book- Unfinished Portrait. Luivette’s poetry is unabashedly authentic, rooted in real life, possessing a fiery yet vulnerable account of her world. During the intermission, she approached me and told me she truly enjoyed the poem I read earlier in the night. That meant a lot to me, coming from this fantastic poet I’d just met. We chatted about grad school, the life of a poet, and agreed that when it comes to poetry- the world is fair game. I’m hopeful we’ll be reading on the same bill in Long Beach sometime in early September.  Pleasure Luivette.
 
 http://www.luivetteresto.com/Welcome.html 

 
And this is the poem she likes.  It was featured on the site at the bottom of the post where I was “Poet of the Week.”  Turns out, Luivette was “Poet of the Week” the week prior.  Her link is below as well.

Things Done


I.

The plastic, olive infantryman obediently dangles out the window of
Alex’s mom’s new ‘83 Corolla hatchback, an old shoelace tied to his leg;
The other end clutched in my hand, sticky with sour apple Now and Laters
Residue.
Each green light stuttering over concrete as if riddled with enemy fire,
Body crashing street like a dire Kamikaze.
Dropped off in my driveway, I pick him up, put him in my palm,
And inspect his wounds recalling the word I got wrong on the spelling test
Earlier in the day,
sacrifice.
Battered, misshapen, almost all in one piece, one couldn’t tell
He never had a heart.

 
II.

I’d never heard of Norman Schwarzkopf.
Didn’t know much about the Persian Gulf
Simply, “scud missiles” often punch lines to late night monologues.
It’s early Monday morning and I’m hung over from a frat party
When Alex calls.
“They may ship me to Iraq soon bro.”
I thought he only wore the uniform to get laid,
And the only time he’d ever fire,
Feverishly mashing button A during drunken Nintendo wars.
The day we hugged goodbye my tears tasted like gunpowder,
And I hoped he’d shoot those mother fuckers in their mouths.

 
III.

The house smelled festive. Alex’s mom cooked chicken enchiladas,
And baked a chocolate cake. Blue and white frosting read,
Welcome home hero.
Resuming epic video game battles in his living room:
Me on the La-Z-Boy, feet propped up on the ottoman,
Alex next to me, just like pedaling to the park.
From his wheelchair, abrupt stubs once rangy legs he proclaimed,
“I’ll still kick your ass.”
In that moment I recalled,
—Alex never missed words on spelling tests.
Battered, misshapen, almost all in one piece, one couldn’t tell
He never had regrets.

 
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About Daniel Romo

Author of When Kerosene's Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014) and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013). I'm partial to prose poems. Alliteration. And fragments.

4 responses »

  1. I like how this poem in is three parts. Dividing it this way helps illustrate the progression of the narrator’s life/friendship and thus, in a parallel way, Alex’s life.

    What could become overly sentimental (and with fine reason) is skillfully done by the last few lines.

    Also relevant to me, as my neighbor just left for basic training and my cousin heads out for his 2nd tour, this time Afghanistan in a couple months.

    Reply
    • Thanks Jill. I’m proud of how this poem fleshed itself out. I’ll post another poem with a similar theme either tomorrow or Monday. War is not swell 😦

      Reply
  2. Thank you Angie. And your daughter too. It is definitely one of my more “emotional” poems. It’s a shame how recruiters hang around at schools persuading young people (especially inner-city) to join, making them think it’s their best option. While others join for other reasons, it’s just so sad… I’ll put up another poem on the subject soon.

    Reply
  3. I read this over at ‘superhighway’ a few days ago; I really like it. I had my daughter read it and she liked it, which is a big deal. She’s a physics major. She hates poetry! (One day she’ll see that physics is poetry…)

    But anyway–she liked it because of the relevance to her life. Just this week, two more of her friends have joined the army against her protests. So many boys she knows are in the military now we’ve lost track. The count is up to 3 for the ones from our local high school that have been killed (it’s a small place.) So, it touched her. Made her cry, actually.

    I like it for the circle, the repetition, and the quiet truth. It feels real, it hurts and it doesn’t preach. It just is.

    Reply

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