Joe Somoza at El Bar Palacios

I want to catch up now on some things that have been on the back burner for a while.

In October I drove up to the Palacio's Bar in Old Mesilla a few minutes outside Las Cruces. For years now a group of poets have been hosting an open mic poetry series the 3rd Tuesday of every month. Joe Somoza was one of its founding members. Joe has long been a fan of open mic series. He likes the democratic ambiente. I don't go to many but when I do I enjoy myself. Anyway the night I was there Joe read two poems he had written that week. He said he was still fiddling with the poems and reading them aloud to an audience gives him a way to listen to the words different. I enjoyed his reading and the poems very much--playful and pensive and, if I may say, lonely in that way that happens along when we get older. I know the feeling. I drove home (50 miles) with enough energy to write in my journal and take some notes on some poems  I've been working on. And I wrote to ask Joe if I could paste the poems in my blog. Here they are.

Late Quartet

Beethoven must’ve been deaf
by then. But not blind—though
what does that mean?
That two “buts”

don’t make an “and”?
Outside the window, sun and leaves
don’t concern
themselves with my phrasing.

They’re making love this morning,
turning sunlight to
maple trees
for later generations to sit under

the boughs,
or look out their windows
at them while smoking
pensively, as we did,

when cigarettes, cheap then,
made you feel cool, not
though everything you do

kills you
eventually. Is this why Beethoven sounds
so sad, so richly
melancholic, so continually

in the darker tones—that he saw
when he could no longer


The Private Lives Of Words

I don’t want to sound
I don’t want, even, to pretend
to some importance.
So why set the words
down—preserving them.
For others?
Clarifying them
for myself?
Already, you see patterns
start to form.
The words, once
written down, call
to other words.
It’s so lonely
on the long, blank page,
so isolated living in your head,
behind eyes that are
forever looking
at the surfaces of things
from their secure
outpost, wondering
how it would be
inside a locust tree, for instance,
or a hummingbird.
Even inside that old rocking chair
sitting in the living room
since Mary, the ex-neighbor, sold it
at a yard sale.
And it’s stayed
against that wall, overshadowed
by the piano, hardly noticed
beside the shelves of multi-colored novels
that probably
with each other nights—
Hemingway continuing his belligerence
with Fitzgerald. De Maupassant
chatting with Flaubert.
You get some words together, and you
never hear the end of it.


Anonymous said...

How wonderful to read about Palacios and Joe Samoza. I found the poems rich and textured, full of Somaza's voice, the familiar image, the self-commentary. Makes me miss New Mexico and though I attended rarely, Palacios open mic.

Patrick said...

What a lovely poem Mr. Bird. From "It's so lonely" down to "hummingbird"; what a splendid section.