After Tonight

By Gary Soto b. 1952 Gary Soto
Because there are avenues
Of traffic lights, a phone book
Of brothers and lawyers,
Why should you think your purse
Will not be tugged from your arm
Or the screen door
Will remain latched
Against the man
Who hugs and kisses
His pillow
In the corridor of loneliness?

There is a window of light
A sprinkler turning
As the earth turns,
And you do not think of the hills
And of the splintered wrists it takes
To give you
The heat rising toward the ceiling.

You expect your daughter
To be at the door any moment
And your husband to arrive
With the night
That is suddenly all around.
You expect the stove to burst

A collar of fire
When you want it,
The siamese cats
To move against your legs, purring.

But remember this:
Because blood revolves from one lung to the next,
Why think it will
After tonight?

Gary Soto, “After Tonight” from The Elements of San Joaquin (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977). Copyright © 1977 by Gary Soto. Reprinted with the permission of the author,

Source: The Elements of San Joaquin (1977)

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Poet Gary Soto b. 1952


Subjects Home Life, Relationships

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Gary  Soto


Gary Soto is known for a body of work that deals with the realities of growing up in Mexican-American communities; in poems, novels, short stories, plays and over a two dozen books for young people, Soto has recreated the world of the barrio, the urban, Spanish-speaking neighborhood where he was raised, bringing the sights, sounds and smells vividly to life within the pages of his books. Soto’s poetry and prose focus on everyday . . .

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SUBJECT Home Life, Relationships


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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