Gary Soto

Gary Soto Poems

I was hoping to be happy by seventeen.
School was a sharp check mark in the roll book,
An obnoxious tuba playing at noon because our team
Was going to win at night. The teachers were

You're in this dream of cotton plants.
You raise a hoe, swing, and the first weeds
Fall with a sigh. You take another step,
Chop, and the sigh comes again,

All through lunch Peter pinched at his crotch,
And Jesús talked about his tattoos,
And I let the flies crawl my arm, undisturbed,
Thinking it was wrong, a buck sixty five,

The clouds shouldered a path up the mountains
East of Ocampo, and then descended,
Scraping their bellies gray on the cracked shingles of slate.

Monsignor, I believed Jesus followed me
With his eyes, and when I slept,
An angel peeled an orange
And waited for me to wake up.

Because there are avenues
Of traffic lights, a phone book
Of brothers and lawyers,
Why should you think your purse

Today it's going to cost us twenty dollars
To live. Five for a softball. Four for a book,
A handful of ones for coffee and two sweet rolls,
Bus fare, rosin for your mother's violin.

Wedding night
Graciela bled lightly—
But enough to stain his thighs—
And left an alphabet
Of teeth marks on his arm.

Listen, nephew.
When I opened the cantina
At noon
A triangle of sunlight

My chalk is no longer than a chip of fingernail,
Chip by which I must explain this Monday
Night the verbs "to get;" "to wear," "to cut."
I'm not given much, these tired students,

"It's a '49," Rhinehardt said, and slammed
The screen door, then worked his way around
The dog turds in the yard
To the Buick gutted from fire—the gears

When the sun's whiteness closes around us
Like a noose,

It is noon, and Molina squats
In the uneven shade of an oleander.

Did you sneeze?
Yes, I rid myself of the imposter inside me.

Did you iron your shirt?
Yes, I used the steam of mother's hate.

We could wipe away a fly,
Drink, and order that yellow
Thing behind the glass, peach
Or sweet bread. Sunlight

There is the one who turns
A spoon over like a letter,
Reading the teeth-marks
Older than his own;

for César Chávez

The wind sprays pale dirt into my mouth
The small, almost invisible scars
On my hands.

Gary Soto Biography

Gary Anthony Soto (born April 12, 1952) is an American author and poet. Soto was born to Mexican-American parents Manuel (1910–1957) and Angie Soto (1924-). In his youth, he worked in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley. Soto's father died in 1957, when he was five years old. As his family had to struggle to find work, he had little time or encouragement in his studies, hence, he was not a good student. Soto notes that in spite of his early academic record, while at high school he found an interest in poetry through writers such as Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Jules Verne, Robert Frost and Thornton Wilder. Soto attended Fresno City College and California State University, Fresno, where he earned his B.A. degree in English in 1974, studying with poet Philip Levine. He did graduate work in poetry writing at the University of California, Irvine, where he was the first Mexican-American to earn a M.F.A. in 1976. He states that he wanted to become a writer in college after discovering the novelist Gabriel García Márquez and the contemporary poets Edward Field, W. S. Merwin, Charles Simic, James Wright and Pablo Neruda, whom he calls "the master of them all. Soto taught at University of California, Berkeley and at University of California, Riverside, where he was a Distinguished Professor. Soto was a 'Young People's Ambassador' for the United Farm Workers of America, introducing young people to the organization's work and goals. Soto became the sponsor for the Pattonville High School Spanish National Honor Society in 2009. Soto lives in northern California, dividing his time between Berkeley and Fresno, but is no longer teaching.)

The Best Poem Of Gary Soto

Saturday At The Canal

I was hoping to be happy by seventeen.
School was a sharp check mark in the roll book,
An obnoxious tuba playing at noon because our team
Was going to win at night. The teachers were
Too close to dying to understand. The hallways
Stank of poor grades and unwashed hair. Thus,
A friend and I sat watching the water on Saturday,
Neither of us talking much, just warming ourselves
By hurling large rocks at the dusty ground
And feeling awful because San Francisco was a postcard
On a bedroom wall. We wanted to go there,
Hitchhike under the last migrating birds
And be with people who knew more than three chords
On a guitar. We didn't drink or smoke,
But our hair was shoulder length, wild when
The wind picked up and the shadows of
This loneliness gripped loose dirt. By bus or car,
By the sway of train over a long bridge,
We wanted to get out. The years froze
As we sat on the bank. Our eyes followed the water,
White-tipped but dark underneath, racing out of town.

Gary Soto Comments

I Love Whitt Bell 07 May 2007

I love you, Whitt Bell. Gary Soto is horrible because he writes meaningless crap that doesn't mean anything. 'it shows that your an illiterate twit' Should be 'you're' 'Your kind infest the world and, like' Should be 'Your kind infest the world, and, like' 'feast on the living Word of others' Should be 'feast on the living word of others' Who's illiterate?

211 540 Reply
C´mon 14 September 2021

This shows how dumb you are that you can´t understand gary soto's poems

3 4
Orran Ainmire 28 January 2008

You're most likely the same person, or you are just as foolish to defend someone like him. I'll admit: I'm grammar challenged, but the rules of the English Language change so often that such a state differs from being illiterate. 'Your' was a typo. You are correct in pointing that out. 'Your kind infest the world and, like a parasite, feast on the living Word of others while producing nothing of your own' is correct because: 'feast on the living Word of others while producing nothing of your own' is not an independent clause; therefore, you should not put a comma before the 'and'. I capitalized 'Word' because it is the living Word and the capitalization signifies a greater meaning. Read some of Emily Dickinson's poetry and you'll understand what I was trying to imply. You think your remarks are witty, but it is you, sir, who is illiterate. Again, I apologize for the misuse of the comment box. This shall be the last instance that this takes place. Humbly yours- Orran Ainmire

328 320 Reply
[3 14 September 2021

good point

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Lazeo Gary 22 July 2013

I love gary sotos poems... -Lazeo

248 173 Reply
Raymond. Oldham 06 May 2022

write. book

0 0 Reply
Why you gotta be an Idiot 14 September 2021

You never have written one poem that has come close to this mans accomplishments and if he is illiterate then he wouldent be listed.

2 0 Reply
kaylee 16 April 2020

he inspire me to be a righter and his poem make me fill so powerful

4 4 Reply
Con Artist 05 February 2020

What is even going on here

6 2 Reply
456456544 16 December 2019

que pedo que pedo nomms wey ooooooooo

6 3 Reply

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