I Thought of Buying

a new shirt to
walk around in
San Francisco.
But then I thought, “Why not
wear my old shirt
with the warped, stretched
collar and fade spots.”?
I don’t want to “visit”
San Francisco:
I want to live there
for however long
our stay, the way
I’ve lived inside
my green shirt with its
emblem on the pocket
grown more
faded with every washing.
I want to be
a San Franciscan there,
stop at Bob’s for lunch,
next to that tobacco shop on
Polk Street where other
San Franciscans walk by in their
everyday faded wear, wearing
usual faces that might
look in on me
having lunch there
at a booth
beside the window.

This is my favorite poem in Joseph Somoza’s new collection Miraculous.  I like it both for the craft and for the idea, because I too would like to “live” in San Francisco for as long as my visit might last, to be a casual part of it.  He has captured that longing well.

The book is a collection of twenty-five love poems.  Many express love for his wife, Jill, others, like the one above, love for places, still others love of words or love of life.

Here’s one that’s mostly word play:


The ground, like coffee grounds
spilled on the ground and
ground together with ground by the
rain drop by drop that dropped
down to the ground, pitting it
among twigs, stones, ants, and,
here and there, grass stalks that
don’t stalk and don’t talk, I talk for
them in a presumptuous way
trying to be the sumptuous way they
green the ground green wherever
they are, grown from the ground
to where the rain rains
and the sun suns.

And here’s the beginning and end of “When She’s Gone”:

She’s out
shopping, and as often
happens when she’s gone,
corners of the house
begin to fill
with her―the stove
where she left today’s
bean soup warming
for me to watch, . . .

It’s only because she’s
gone that I can
tell you this.
It’s because she’s not
around to talk to
that it occurs to me.

For the rest of this poem, and the other twenty-two, buy the book, which is enhanced by drawings by Louis Ocepek.  His sketches of stray items suit the mood of the poems well.  Miraculous is produced by blurb.com: http://www.blurb.com/b/3809469-miraculous.

Somoza’s latest full length book is Shock of White Hair, published by Sin Fronteras Press and available on Amazon.