I’ve picked this same book from my lap
seventeen times, shaking more and more
words off each page as it drops down.
Months, and not one poem has come.
If I listen to what my fortune-telling monk
says, if I don’t write by year’s end I’ll be cursed
to never write for the rest of my life.
He shuffles playing cards in an endless waterfall
on his low lacquered table in the incensed room,
tells me what he sees in the numbers.
But these long hours at my chair near
a window that overlooks memory.
And time passes in agonizing straight lines.
When better to host a rummage sale of the mind?
Before shoppers idle in their trucks,
posters with your address and crude arrows
pointing vague ‘lefts’ or ‘rights’ or straight skyward
get hammered in the wet grass of neighbors.
That brief moment you look at all the crud
it’s taken years to accumulate and, suddenly,
you want it all. You ought let nothing go.
I miss driving night’s emptied down towns.
The ghostly look of car headlights passing
plate glass windows. Summer’s virgin air
when I learned to smoke cigarettes dangling
at the tip of your lips with slow, uninterested
drags. We smoked because we didn’t need to.
But regrets are as permanent as I want them to be.
I’m trying to be a better truth-teller.
Spending time remembering wasted time,
it’s the old trick of asking a genie for more wishes.
Of rubbing your own sore muscles and the words
don’t work to conjure back a single thing
but grief, well-worked grief.
Reminds me of the woman I saw gardening
in the middle of the night: hosing down beds,
re-planting on her hands and knees, walking fertilizers
and insecticides over the dark square of her yard.
Deep in the dirty work, unable to see its beauty.
About the contributor: Gerald Cedillo is from Houston, Texas where he attended the University of St. Thomas and studied Creative Writing at the University of Houston. He has taught theater, performance poetry, and writing. He has been a literary event organizer, was on the board of Houston’s legendary week-long poetry festival, The Word Around Town, and is a part of many erstwhile writing groups such The Balcony Poets and The Shout.