poet Gary Soto

Gary Soto

A Red Palm

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,
Until you yourself are breathing that way
With each step, a sigh that will follow you into town.

That's hours later. The sun is a red blister
Coming up in your palm. Your back is strong,
Young, not yet the broken chair
In an abandoned school of dry spiders.
Dust settles on your forehead, dirt
Smiles under each fingernail.
You chop, step, and by the end of the first row,
You can buy one splendid fish for wife
And three sons. Another row, another fish,
Until you have enough and move on to milk,
Bread, meat. Ten hours and the cupboards creak.
You can rest in the back yard under a tree.
Your hands twitch on your lap,
Not unlike the fish on a pier or the bottom
Of a boat. You drink iced tea. The minutes jerk
Like flies.

It's dusk, now night,
And the lights in your home are on.
That costs money, yellow light
In the kitchen. That's thirty steps,
You say to your hands,
Now shaped into binoculars.
You could raise them to your eyes:
You were a fool in school, now look at you.
You're a giant among cotton plants.
Now you see your oldest boy, also running.
Papa, he says, it's time to come in.
You pull him into your lap
And ask, What's forty times nine?
He knows as well as you, and you smile.
The wind makes peace with the trees,
The stars strike themselves in the dark.
You get up and walk with the sigh of cotton plants.
You go to sleep with a red sun on your palm,
The sore light you see when you first stir in bed.

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

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A Red Palm # 170 poem on top 500 Poems
3,6 out of 5
126 total ratings
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Comments about A Red Palm by Gary Soto

  • guacamole n pito (10/5/2020 7:55:00 AM)

    yo mama yo mama yo mama yo mama yo mama yo mama yo mama yo mama yo mama yo mama yo mama yo mama yo mama yo mama yo mama

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  • Chinedu DikeChinedu Dike (4/24/2020 11:07:00 PM)

    Well expressed thoughts and feelings. An insightful work of art. Thanks for sharing, Gary.

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  • Danny Green (11/8/2019 4:42:00 PM)

    it was a great poem and very inspiring for young kids.

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  • urmom.com (5/9/2019 1:11:00 PM)

    meow meow im a cow meow meow im a cow meow meow im a cowmeow meow im a cowmeow meow im a cowmeow meow im a cowmeow meow im a cowmeow meow im a cowmeow meow im a cowmeow meow im a cowmeow meow im a cow

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    3 person liked.
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  • Steph Curry (5/9/2019 12:11:00 PM)

    thats a good poem for sure

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    penischeeto.com(4/15/2020 11:46:00 AM)


    Tatiana(5/9/2019 12:14:00 PM)

    your funny

    3 person liked.
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  • wigaa (4/5/2019 3:22:00 PM)


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  • maritssa (10/2/2018 12:39:00 PM)

    what i liked about the poem is that the character does the same thing like me. for example, when i feel bored i go under a tree and see the sun set down.

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    7 person liked.
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  • Abraham Lincoln (4/30/2018 1:58:00 PM)

    buncha in this place mexicans

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    Gary Soto(3/21/2019 11:39:00 PM)

    F U C white people

    13 person liked.
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  • Me Me Big Boy (4/24/2018 8:54:00 PM)

    This poem... NO words

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    8 person liked.
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  • Joe Howell (3/30/2018 12:52:00 AM)

    Delightful words.

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    takeira(4/23/2018 1:53:00 PM)

    I know that it is some delightful words that are in the poem they are good and loving words

    7 person liked.
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  • Bignutz Ledoux (5/11/2012 8:46:00 AM)

    dear alexis you are my hero keep up the good work of getting plastered ;)

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    45 person liked.
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  • Ladawn Trice (3/16/2012 8:07:00 AM)

    somehow, managed to turn a smile upside down... you reap what you sow, but you have to make the best of it, so out of it can come benefits. no matter how much of a fooled you acted then, for your family you will break your back to give them all that they need and some of the desires that they want. to make sure that your child/ren doesn't reflect the fool you acted in school, but to be the business man you are in the fields w a better tune... beauty shows its' face in many directions

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    44 person liked.
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  • Alexis Ligues (10/5/2010 2:03:00 PM)

    Hi im Alexis ligues and this poem reminds me of the one time that i tried to be cool and took vodka to school.. which i still do. and i think this poem is great! it makes me want to get wasted

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    53 person liked.
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  • Jasmin Whyte (3/14/2009 4:35:00 PM)

    this is lovely. It felt as tho' i was watching a film. very visual. thank you

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    52 person liked.
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  • Neojuna Riddick (2/1/2008 8:26:00 AM)

    i enjoy reading something that makes me tilt me head, and just say wow

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    44 person liked.
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  • Blue angel Florida (9/21/2007 7:47:00 PM)

    A normal life made extraordinary. Thanks for sharing!

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    44 person liked.
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  • Melvina GermainMelvina Germain (1/20/2007 11:05:00 AM)

    I like this poem Gary, I truly enjoyed the read. Thankyou---Melvina---

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    46 person liked.
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  • Jamie Parker (2/4/2005 9:39:00 AM)

    Makes me sleepy just by reading about it!
    Jamie Parker

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    39 person liked.
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Read poems about / on: fish, school, red, running, money, sun, tree, smile, peace, light, dream, sleep, home, wind, dark, night, fishing, son, star