Thoughts and Words: Celebrating National Poetry Month

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. —Robert Frost

Every day, The Poetry Foundation e-mails me “the poem of the day”. Signing up to receive it is a little gift I keep giving myself over and over. A way to remind myself, and keep bringing myself back to who I am and who I want to be. When I am reading, listening to, and writing poetry—that passionate, comfortably lost, exhilaratingly free feeling I get— that’s the best part of me. There, I am happiest. There, I am the kindest to myself and others. There, I am the most honest I will ever be. There, I have the most to give.

With all of the responsibilities and challenges of daily life, it’s easy to forget that place and how to get back to it. A good friend of mine, who has known me since high school, and is well aware of where I operate best from, Facebooked me on the 1st of April and said, “Because someone had to wish you happy poetry month. Here are 3 poems from one of my all time favorite writers, Sandra Cisneros. Happy writing, friend.”

What a thoughtful message, what a wonderful gift. So now I will pass it on and remind you! April is National Poetry Month! Go ahead, celebrate and feed your soul.

I Am On My Way to Oklahoma to Bury the Man I Nearly Left My Husband For

Your name doesn’t matter.
I loved you.
We loved.
The years

I waited—
by the river for your pickup
truck to find me. Footprints
scattered in the yellow sand.
Husband, mother-
in-law, kids wondering
where I’d gone.

You wouldn’t
the years I begged. Would
the years I wouldn’t. Only
one of us had sense at a time.

I won’t see you again.
I guess life presents you
choices and you choose. Smarter
over the years. Oh smarter.
The sensible thing smarting
over the years, the sensible
thing to excess, I guess.

My life—deed I have
done to artistic extreme—I
drag you with me. Must wake
early. Ride north tomorrow.
Send you off. Are you fine?
I think of you often, friend,
and fondly.

12/03/90 Ann Arbor


“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud
floating in this sheet of paper.”—Thich Nhat Hanh

Before you became a cloud, you were an ocean, roiled and
murmuring like a mouth. You were the shadow of a cloud
crossing over a field of tulips. You were the tears of a
man who cried into a plaid handkerchief. You were a sky
without a hat. Your heart puffed and flowered like sheets
drying on a line.

And when you were a tree, you listened to trees and the tree
things trees told you. You were the wind in the wheels of a
red bicycle. You were the spidery Maria tattooed on the
hairless arm of a boy in downtown Houston. You were the
rain rolling off the waxy leaves of a magnolia tree. A lock
of straw-colored hair wedged between the mottled pages of a
Victor Hugo novel. A crescent of soap. A spider the color
of a finger nail. The black nets beneath the sea of olive
trees. A skein of blue wool. A tea saucer wrapped in
newspaper. An empty cracker tin. A bowl of blueberries in
heavy cream. White wine in a green-stemmed glass.

And when you opened your wings to wind, across the
punched-tin sky above a prison courtyard, those condemned to
death and those condemned to life watched how smooth and
sweet a white cloud glides.

8.10.91 San Antonio

Black Lace Bra Kind of Woman

para la mujer de fuerza—la Terry
who today is thirty-one

¡Wachale! She’s a black lace bra
kind of woman, the kind who serves
up suicide with every kamikaze
poured in the neon blue of evening.
A tease and a twirl. I’ve seen that
two-step girl in action. I’ve gambled bad
odds and sat shotgun when she rambled
her ’59 Pontiac between the blurred
lines dividing sense from senselessness.

Ruin your clothes, she will.
Get you home way after hours.
Drive her ’59 seventy-five on 35
like there is no tomorrow.
Woman zydeco-ing into her own decade.
Thirty years pleated behind her like
the wail of a San Antonio accordion.
And now the good times are coming. Girl,
I tell you, the good times are here.

6 de julio, 1990

—Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago, Illinois and currently lives in San Antonio, Texas. Her books include My Wicked, Wicked Ways (Third Woman Press), Woman Hollering Creek(Vintage) and The House on Mango Street (Vintage).

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