I stumble upon a poetry reading
on the second floor mezzanine.
The coordinator hands me a flyer
as Jimmy Santiago Baca
takes the stage – wide steps, almost a swagger.
I skim his bio: abandoned at age two,
raised briefly by grandparents
then sent to an orphanage. A runaway
at thirteen, zipping in and out of trouble.
Prison’s where he first learned
to read. Shaken by the voices of Neruda
and Lorca he started writing.
I lean against the back wall, watch
his full, sensual lips curl into a smile,
almost smirk. I feel like a co-conspirator.
He clears his throat, scans the room
with laser-blue eyes. Poetry saved my life.
He reads a poem about giving away
everything he has, the line, I love you,
repeats three times. I listen to his sweet,
soul-filled voice. My eyes close
and here’s where it all silks down.
A steamy jazz club. Swaying to the music,
his hand on my skin. I lean into him.
Jimmy, the taste of his name on my tongue . . .
There’s an explosion
of woo-hoos, whistles, applause.
I open my eyes. He steps from behind the podium,
laughs like a full winter moon
if it took a mind to have a good guffaw.