Tag Archives: Jimmy Santiago Baca

What Kind of Poem Is Appropriate?


I had the pleasure of meeting poet Jimmy Baca at the NCTE in San Antonio.  I was looking forward to hearing him speak because I love his work. 

I want to share with you all a poem that cuts me to the very core every time I read it.  This poem in particular is from his book Healing Earthquakes, and was written about the death of his brother. 

 It is  poignantly beautiful.  The intense love that he felt for his brother is perfectly palpable with every word he so carefully chose.  Here is a brief excerpt that I can really identify with:

…But your dying

made a rush of silver knives

explode through my soul,

cutting every tendon that controls my body

and in a huge surge of volcanic emotion

I want to fall on the ground and scream

at the injustice—

my heart completely shatters its composure

a fierce rumbling of pain drives a stake

from the center of my heart outward

and every flower bleeds tears at dawn,

leaves droop with green sadness,

the sand howls up in dust devils

dancing its death step

and I want to stop the world from spinning,

freeze the earth’s axis with my cold grip

and cry your life back,

change the way your life had been,

place my hands in your soul

like a potter at the wheel

and make a beautiful vase of your soul

and fill it with fruit and flowers and candies

and armfuls of brimming-over love

at the hour of your death

I crush the clock fate carries,

and sadness walks in me like rain

across the desert,

carving gullies of grief,

cutting the land with deep gouges

where in the bottom I live

never seeing sunrise again

never seeing

top-land life,

in the gullet of this grief I roam

like a mad elk seeking exit.

and finding none,

only more curves, more turns,

caught in the maddening maze of why you had to die…