Vox Populi

Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry

Jose Padua: On the Purpose of These Stories and the Effort We Put into Them

If I were the war on drugs
would I look upon you with great suspicion
when you step on the subway train
on your way to work in the morning;
would I eye you sideways
when you sit in the coffee shop drinking coffee,
in the fast food restaurant easting fast food,
dining out cheap like me,
unhealthily like me,
watching your pennies like morning rain,
wondering about the next paycheck, next job,
next night out amidst the city lights,
or just an early evening at home doing nothing
but listening closely as the children play
their sweet simple games?
If I were the war on terror
would I listen to AM talk radio
while I’m driving to the store with my family
then tell everyone to be quiet
when the on-air discussion moves on
to how America got into this mess to begin with
and what, as real Americans,
are we willing to do to get out of it?
Sometimes at the grocery store you look at me,
your eyes almost bulging
like warm blood beneath the surface of pale thin skin
when I’m standing across from you
at the open face freezer
deciding which cut of meat to buy
because I’m a carnivore like you,
or trying to find sweet corn,
a fresh loaf of bread,
and a treat for the kids
even though I know they’ll be
wild with kinetic and other forms of energy
and acting as if they’re never going to go to bed again
as long as there’s bright color
and high pitched sound in the revolving world
that surrounds them.
You, in the meantime,
wonder what medications I may be on,
ask yourself do I look a person who shoots smack,
drops acid like it’s the 60s,
or who perhaps comes here
from a faraway country your country is at war with
and who if I were to open my mouth
could only speak in some language
you can’t possibly comprehend?
If I recall my history correctly,
terror came first,
then war, then drugs,
and seeing there was no one to challenge drugs,
war declared itself an abuser of drugs as did terror
with harsh words and something
that looked like a menacing sneer.
Nowadays, drugs are everywhere
and so is war and famine and poverty and greed
and the fear of growing so old
as to be unfit to play one’s part
in all the wars and terror to come.
Because oh where
would war and terror be without us,
where would drugs be if we weren’t here to take them,
where would terror be if no one were afraid.
If we were simply sitting peacefully
at sturdy wooden tables
in the rough sunlight of early evening,
telling each other stories,
remembering the days
when we’d hold fire in our hands,
all for the purpose
of bringing color to the darkness
on these long, cold nights.


Copyright 2016 Jose Padua

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Photograph by Jose Padua

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This entry was posted on November 21, 2016 by in Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , .
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