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On These Days Driving















Perfection is all those horrible old love affairs

they tell their latest lover about in bed as they smoke

cigarettes, together and laughing in the darkness.

Perfection is all those bad years spent starving,

mad, aimless, before finally finding a way, through

chance or struggle, to make it.

Perfection is the moment when the worst

is behind you and the best slowly reveals itself

like a song from decades ago that only now

is becoming a hit.


I confess that I’ve got it all

ass-backwards, that perfection is beyond me

and my best was long ago

with the worst now revealing itself

like the dream you can’t remember,

the dream that leaves you gasping for air

as you sit up,

scared and alone,

staring out into the infinite darkness.


I never liked perfection,

I never tried to make the pieces

fit neatly, cleanly, exactly.


I always like the team that worked

the hardest, yet blew it in the end

and came in second,

the movie star who grew old and crazy,

forgot her lines and faded away…

it was something about the blemish on her cheek,

the hint of insanity,

the look on the players’ faces,

which whether out of lame stupidity

or brave wisdom, seemed to say

that things just weren’t right.


And though there hasn’t been

a day in the last twenty or so years

when I haven’t at least

considered the possibilities

of jumping out a fifth floor window

or throwing myself into the middle

of rush hour traffic

on the interstate,


I don’t.


So if you see me

in the late evening

or early morning

walking the streets, looking up

for shadows in the facades of buildings,

or on the road driving past

The International House Of Pancakes,

The Food Lion, and The Best Western

by the airport

ready to swerve,

just keep in mind that as far as I know

I’m on the right highway

and moving in the right direction,

with the grey and white signs

leading me westward

into the deep, imperfect blue

of heaven on


-Jose Padua


Poem originally published in Bomb, Spring 1993. Photo by Jose Padua. Jose Padua is co-author of the blog Shenandoah Breakdown.


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