Mastodon Crack

















I can’t tell whether the flowers are falling or

floating in this painting just as I can’t tell whether

I am falling or floating, especially when I’m

writing a poem, because writing poems has become like

doing crack for me. Not that I ever did crack, what

with my delicate heart and it’s not that I had

anything against crack, it’s just that I didn’t think


I could survive anything that intense and I always

found it annoying when kids used the term “crackhead”

to describe anyone they thought was kind of dumb

because when I lived in New York I seemed to be

surrounded by crackheads in the building where I lived

and “dumb” was not the word I would have used to describe

them and not even “crackhead” even though they were


crackheads, because there’s no intensity in dumb, no

drive toward obliterating the future tense, and

the crackheads were intense, and now that I hardly

even drink, poetry has become my new addiction,

my high, my crack, and I’m never quite sure if with it

I’m falling or floating or slowly obliterating

the future tense, and sometimes the past tense as well,


until everything becomes one endless moment

in a present tense in which though I’m physically safe,

my mind is walking a tightrope without a net, and

each time I get on the tightrope I feel like a beginner

again, because that’s the thrill, to make it feel like it’s

the first time all over again and you have no idea

where you’re going to go or how you’re going to get there,


because all you want to do is go in a Faster,

Pussycat! Kill! Kill! kind of going, squeezing all

the pulp out of a situation, then giving it

a sometimes restless and always unstoppable beat

that will confuse those who think that poetry can

only be pretty words and flowers and that there’s

nothing dangerous about it, and I’m getting


a little breathless here, and if I weren’t reading this

right now I’d reach for my inhaler but my hands are

occupied holding up this damn poem, and whether you

believe it or not, I’m putting my life on the line

for you here, I’m risking my health to entertain you

fuckers. So show me some appreciation. Laugh. Applaud.

Christ, you can even give me flowers when I’m done.


-Jose Padua


Originally written for the Shenandoah Arts Council’s exhibit, Art Inspired by Art. Photo by Jose Padua. Jose Padua is co-author of the blog Shenandoah Breakdown.


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