STANLEY PACION (Chicago, Illinois USA)
A Dream of You, Desert Version
Sweetheart, I know you love me.
I know you appreciate the poetry.
For three years now I have struggled,
I have wanted to write an epic,
A great, big, love poem about us.
I sought to post the way this thing of ours went,
How it went right from the start,
All banners unfurled,
How time marshals forces
Though we go about our daily business,
And children are born, and, as they grow up, think,
Believe fervently that they are meant for one thing
Later to discover, underneath it all,
A new world order sweeps away the old.
I want to announce that I have learned
That the verity of prophecy remains unknown,
Until the actual event transpires.
The Word takes on meaning after the fact.
Headlines acclaim events;
Yet history proves otherwise,
Often something other than bold type might suggest.
Although the finite first meet the eye,
Spirit alights, it writes the script,
The real storyline often lies well beyond
First-glance tales of human endeavor …
We intend to do one thing, but, many times, later,
Discover, unwittingly we do another.
Today I write, declare the moment
Yes, I say that is the way,
The way, it had actually had happened.
Now consider! I dedicate this verse to you;
Yet allow, if you please, that it records events,
Prior to our acquaintance,
Circumstance which had occurred years before we met,
Years before either of us heard each others' name.
Where do I get the nerve?
- The actual gall of me, hey! -
I affirm that this poem tells a part of our story,
Which antecedes your birth.
The folly of it! I include you in a physical geography,
In a place on this planet you had not experienced,
An earth, whereupon your feet had never trod.
Yet, darling, I have seen you before, yes,
Once upon a time and so long ago.
This narrative propels me, no choice,
I do what destiny would have me do.
I found these words;
I had inked them once,
On lined, yellow, perforated sheet,
‘I sit at the desk, night after night,
And sometimes, it's even day and night,
Often I write on topics, quotidian and small,
On matters of no special interest,
Issues, which critics in essays declare,
Lack propriety and moment,
And do not belong to sphere of poetic ambition.
'Now years have passed,
And choice less still, I write.'
Earlier today, I had packed up your mail,
Readied the address to Coral Gables,
And when you later called and asked
How I was doing, me, under compulsion's demand,
Lonely, slave to love and ardent desire,
I answered 'pathetic.'
No one else will have me.
It as though I have some terrible pox;
Other women see it and shun me.
My mirror image, however, it reminds me of you,
I cram my schedule, always insufficient time,
The day wants the hours,
I have endless lists ‘To Do'.
I isolate terribly, talk to no one for the week,
When friends reach out and telephone, I rush them off!
Honest! No time for idle talk, or chat.
No choice! I return to my desk.
I dread any date for lunch.
I pass on evening engagements.
Sorry! I want only you.
I just want to be with you.
Yet I have that other side,
More than everyday necessity and much more
Than simple expression of my love for you.
It is a confidence I wish to share with you and world,
About how I always knew that you were the girl for me,
Though I came to comprehend it, my great love,
This startling fact, only after the event;
You, only you, once you had entered my life.
I believe I might say it right,
Watch me now, and let's see if I say it right!
I remember Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona,
Danny's store packed with Native American silver,
Bracelets, necklaces and rings, properly displayed
On racks, in trays, locked within showcases,
And on clear shelves, velvet pads, the array of colors,
Turquoise, coral, black onyx and mother of pearl,
Abalone, agates mined and cut to display their fire,
And Alexander, my son, maybe eight, no more than ten,
His years of age, playing behind the counters,
Next to the shotguns, diagonally propped,
On the floor twelve-gauge shells in open boxes,
Ready, should there be an extended engagement.
I share with you the times when, flying in
From Dallas, the grand noise, engines' reversal
To land at Sky Harbor, the ground crew,
How they scrambled, and then,
Wheeled up the staircase,
The platform for debarkation, and me, I would descend
The steps full-tilt straight onto the tarmac,
Fahrenheit, ninety-five degrees in early morning,
A rental car awaited me, and I was off over to Dog Track,
To the swap meet that was unfolding and I sought
The cowboy named, Roadrunner, who always had
Tons of loot, the goods, every Sunday he brought a haul.
Though at his point, it, more dream than reality,
I recall the very special meeting, when traders
Lined up, raised hands, and one after the other,
Volunteered to say that jewelry great here and
Proclaimed that whosoever is welcomed into
The lounge camper, who greets the Navajo,
Both the man and wife and acts with propriety,
Slights his eyes and diverts his gaze,
And the traders at the meeting said that
The person who watches the children playing,
Their running across the white gravel parking lot,
Left and right, up and down, then unto the asphalt sidewalk,
Who enjoys those moments
When the children stop
And form a line to refresh themselves from
The water-cooled, stainless steel, floor-pedal fountain,
(It stood next to the right side of the pari-mutuel windows)
Who knows that the bright sparkling, that eye of the desert,
Quenches every human thirst and brings joy to the moment,
Upon that person, who has witnessed design,
Who has abstracted anagram from within
All the children's scurry, who traces,
Out upon the open parking space, meaning,
Who divines new vision,
Who is able to see within the minds' eye, the dance,
The dance holy ones once danced in godly regalia,
That person, who hears within the youngsters' feet
The drums, the rhythms ancestors had orchestrated,
So to let go, leave this material world,
And find entrance to separate reality,
The traders at the meeting, in-order, one-by-one,
Both arms raised up on high, heads flung back,
Palms stretched and fingers spread wide apart,
As if they reached and pressed upon the sky,
Called upon Great Talking God to sanctify their wish.
It was at that moment, the glory of it all,
They stopped and asked if one such person was present,
There at assembly of Sunday traders at the swap meet
The question became would there be any one to step forward,
Would anyone acknowledge the gift?
And when I answered, yeah
They bestowed their most precious title upon me,
And between the ghosts and the human beings
The word rang and cemented the union, ‘Friend'.
Later that Sunday morning, I felt good magic
When a child ran up behind me,
He quickly, then, touched the back of my hand.
At noon, I met a Mexican friend up on South Mountain.
His house was painted a bright, distinctive blue.
I bought more jewelry and got into my car,
I took the Express Way North, exited at Bell Road,
And headed to way out west of the city.
At one point, I passed the shopping mall,
I thought about Monday's appointments,
How a salesman's lot means he sits,
Marks time to wait his turn with buyers.
Late that afternoon on the concrete patio,
The one surrounding
The big swimming pool at the Community Center,
I buck-danced to the beat, which played
On the rock an' roll, radio station.
Although it was already that Sunday's dusk,
And the day's high temperature had receded,
It still was ninety, over ninety degrees while I sat back
On the lounge chairs and watched Alexander,
Time and again, practice dives off the high board.
Even then, it was long ago, and in Phoenix,
It was you! Darling, I had been waiting for you;
The desert air brought dream of you,
The shimmering, the uplifts, the vertical lines,
Up, upward, shafts of heat rising
Out across the desert vista,
Now I recognize it was a dream of you,
And this, my verse was racing,
I flashed on a fast and mighty steed,
I road atop a beast, it galloped through my mind,
Yet I had command
I managed to pull in the reins,
Halted its furious run, tied the horse up to the rail at the tip,
I hitched the reins to the post at the tip of my tongue.
As I watched the colors of the sunset, as I heard
The splash of the practiced head-first dives,
I was reciting poetry, not out loud, but to myself,
Though I knew not its power, no idea the prophecy,
I knew not the meaning of that woman,
Who I glimpsed,
Whose image I caught from from the corner of my eye,
Who walked out among the columns of earth fever,
And stood next to the Saguaros in the twilight,
Who appeared in an instant out on the horizon,
Seemingly, over and against the floor of the desert,
Yet before she disappeared, she nodded,
It was as if she had sanctioned the voice,
The true heart of these lines,
The cadences and syntax I repeat from once upon a time
And now so long ago, as if she bless me
Today at the keyboard, and grants me
These words I use to describe a dream of you.
Long before I had ever made your actual acquaintance,
A figure in the landscape,
I saw you, your form, at a time prior to when you were born.
At the airport, when security stopped me, I stood
In a booth whose sliding curtains dropped to the floor,
The jewelry I carried in my on-board luggage,
X ray showed a concentrated jumble of metal,
And as I awaited the woos and ahs of personnel,
When they opened my bags for inspection,
It was then that I began to wonder, and it remains
Fresh today, as if I describe events from only yesterday,
It was then I began to wonder, when you,
When your love, might saunter in and make life complete.
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