It would be neat if with the New Year

By Jimmy Santiago Baca b. 1952

for Miguel

It would be neat if with the New Year
I could leave my loneliness behind with the old year.
My leathery loneliness an old pair of work boots
my dog vigorously head-shakes back and forth in its jaws,
chews on for hours every day in my front yard—
rain, sun, snow, or wind
in bare feet, pondering my poem,
I’d look out my window and see that dirty pair of boots in the yard.

But my happiness depends so much on wearing those boots.

At the end of my day
while I’m in a chair listening to a Mexican corrido
I stare at my boots appreciating:
all the wrong roads we’ve taken, all the drug and whiskey houses
we’ve visited, and as the Mexican singer wails his pain,
I smile at my boots, understanding every note in his voice,
and strangers, when they see my boots rocking back and forth on my
                                                                                                    feet
keeping beat to the song, see how
my boots are scuffed, tooth-marked, worn-soled.

I keep wearing them because they fit so good
and I need them, especially when I love so hard,
where I go up those boulder strewn trails,
where flowers crack rocks in their defiant love for the light.

"It would be neat if with the New Year" by Jimmy Santiago Baca, from Winter Poems Along the Río Grande. Copyright © 2004 by Jimmy Santiago Baca. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp., http://www.ndpublishing.com/.

Source: Winter Poems Along the R�o Grande (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2004)

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Poet Jimmy Santiago Baca b. 1952

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Poetry & Poets, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Imagery, Metaphor

 Jimmy Santiago Baca

Biography

Born in 1952 in Santa Fe of Chicano and Apache descent, Jimmy Santiago Baca was abandoned by his parents and at 13 ran away from the orphanage where his grandmother had placed him. He was convicted on drug charges in 1973 and spent five years in prison. There he learned to read and began writing poetry. His semiautobiographical novel in verse, Martin and Meditations on the South Valley (1987), received the 1988 Before Columbus . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Poetry & Poets, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Imagery, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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