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Jose Padua: Ten Sonnets for Electric Motherfuckers — The Second Decad

(Prelude to Acid Motherfuckers United until the End of Time)


These Boots Were Made for Acid

Some velvet morning when I’m an electric motherfucker. 

Some velvet morning when I’ve spent my whole life without

ever having watched ET. Some velvet morning when I’ve

spoiled the tailgate party by being so high on antidepressants

that I don’t give a fuck about who wins or loses but how

enormously I’ve killed everyone else’s enormous high.

Some velvet morning when my brain is filled with visions

of roadkill and dark swamps at midnight when it’s daylight

savings time. And I am the apparition of America made great

more than four hundred years ago. I am fetal acid syndrome

in the downward facing dog position. Some call me Feliciano

Balastiqui, some call me Bobbie Gentry when I am really Nancy

Sinatra. Flowers growing on a hill, dragonflies, daffodils, and

dumbass turds, all because of the virus that was going round.


What Thou Lovest Well Remains High

You must remember Nancy Ly, the loveliest girl in seventh grade?

When she smiled the sixties melted away into seventies dominoes,

toppling over into communism, threatening coach, corner store,

Karen from corporate, because what thou lovest well remains, the

rest is napalm: there’s nothing more American than having the

chance to kill and taking it, nothing more dead than someone made

dead by America (unzip your pants and whip out your freedom);

when you piss in the wind you’re the greatest pisser in the history

of the world (when you piss, all other countries hold out their

hands). And the war in Vietnam ended and another war began:

war is in the heart, piss is in your veins, the scent of burning meat

wafts through the air like glory, morning glory, and the widows

are so young and beautiful, and the widowers rub their hands

together as if cold, their hearing diminished, the memories fading.


Introducing Lucille Alvarado Paquin

I missed so many parties in the 80s being so straight laced, you know.

Lots of coke and shit and disco on the sound system all night. I had

a boyfriend then, his name was Vince, I’d say Vince let’s do something

and he’d say I know what you wanna do, Baby. He was wrong, like

predatory lending. I had a car, it was brown, I had a scar, it was pink.

I got this tattoo in ’91 in San Francisco. I was a divorcée, hanging out

with Ted from Flipper. He was cool but  too intense so you knew better

than to ever think of marrying him. I got a job. Moved up the corporate

ladder. Bought a condo in the Mission. You know the deal. Life. It’s the

only thing worth living for. I got a bigger place now, with a parking space

that’s just for me. I go to the gym, work out like a fucking hurricane

that’s been downsized to a tropical storm. Then I get back to work. You

know what it’s like. You’re my friend. I feel like I’ve known you all my life.

And that one day, like Aeneas said, it will please us to remember even this.


Introducing Fruit of the Loom Billy

When I was a boombox blasting tunes at the gazebo and

you were a package of frozen Jimmy Dean sausages, I’d wait

until the last Merle Haggard tune I had on cassette finished

playing, until you were all soft and defrosted and started

smelling less like ice and more like ground pork to take you

home, put the frying pan on the gas flame stove, then dropping

you in there, sizzling out that sweet burnt meat smoke, making

my lips quiver, my tongue moisten like my long gone old lady.

She was never fond of Ray Bolger, never learned to wait out

a traffic jam with cigarettes and southern junkyard style, but

man could she put those sausages away, crack eggs until all

hostilities ceased. We lived our lives out, there in Florida, improving

as well as we could, loving up every last link, using up the oil,

frying on up to the day our frozen faces turned to soft frowns.


Poetry Is Metaphor for the Whole World, Motherfucker

Poetry is the diaspora of the soul’s elements, set adrift

by empire and exploitation, capitalism’s gravity, oppression’s

guardian angels, its memes and its tropes drifting from flower

and tree like pollen and weed, covering poetry with layers

of allergen, making us sneeze or even shit the moment

a beautiful truth takes aim for frontal lobes, turning memory

into a warehouse of logo and product placement. The poet

gives sanctuary to the refugees, gives them shelter until

they’re ready to go out into the world again as poems, until

some reader for some establishment lit mag throws them in the trash

or clicks delete with a smirk and sends the poet an email saying,

“we are honored you sent your poems to us,” or some bullshit line

like that, “although we won’t be using any of them, we hope you find

a place for them elsewhere, motherfucker”—or words to that effect.


Feliciano Balastiqui in Apocalypse for Upper Class Concepts of Time

And in 1982 I was punk rock Stephen Dedalus

or was I punk rock Leopold Bloom, either plump

everyman or hard core artist with involuntary grunts

and twitches, a wannabe funk pioneer playing bass

like Bootsy or a government worker for the department

of one way streets. No, this is neither celebratory poem

nor congratulatory panegyric full of happy cultural

references to people who inspire you, or simple good

examples; I am neither cheerleader nor prophet of doom

and lost elections, but a reminder to fight fire with shit,

which fuels the fire and makes the flames go higher

burning up the institution, filling up a fascist’s nose with

a big fat stink. Do you smell that? I love the smell of shit

in the morning. It smells like [shrug] revolution, motherfucker.


Introducing Bob Dobalina, Karen from Corporate’s Husband 

Karen call the cops, there’s a man blasting Wu Tang Clan from

his mini-van, his kids look like two junior socialists and his white

wife has obviously been indoctrinated by liberal professors and

doesn’t know the danger she’s in and how good Americans will start

to suffer even more. Karen, call the cops, he’s waiting by the curb

reading Colson Whitehead’s least popular book, I can smell him from

here, he’s wearing Pakistani musk, furrowing his frou frou eyebrows

as he finishes the second chapter like a dude who’s never watched

Fox News. Oh Karen my Karen, the way you move reminds me of the

dancers at Hanna’s on Savannah, makes me think dirty words like carburetor

and diesel fumes, or Harry Crews around the time of Feast of Snakes,

so come on hop on my choo choo, ride my great big straight to the lower

peninsula. We’ll drop a bomb on the commies, we’ll host a massive

tailgate tequila party, so wake up, Karen, wake up or we’re all through.


A Mild Philippic Delivered by Godzilla on the Occasion of America’s Pandemic

For I have forsaken all boats and sailing ships, persisted in my

efforts to walk treacherous paths toward America in this its summer

of sustained disease, for I am devoted among all monsters in my

distaste for the lumpen bourgeoisie, their wicker chairs and their

sentimental black velvet portraits displayed on living room walls.

For I appear upon the horizon amidst furious storms, full of fury

and indiscretion in my actions against the agency of colonizers

and other usurpers of nature’s crown, power passed on from one

generation to the next through primogeniture. So, cease ye your

jollifications, I am here, with my fire and big teeth. Take me to your

leader. Take me to your knowledge management specialist so I

might know all your history and understand mine even more. Then

bring me, in all its disgusting privilege and heretofore untempered

glory, like a burger on a paper plate, bring me the head of Bob Dobalina.


A Minimalist Wind for a Minimalist Sailboat

What difference would it have made if the seventy-six hundred island

kingdom were named after Philip II of Macedon, instead of Philip II

of Spain. Would indigenous people have escaped slaughter, would there

be no Rodrigo Roa Duterte death squads today hunting down suspected

drug dealers and other manufactured bad guys, and would my people be

allowed to get high in peace? Would a philippic would still be a philippic,

Philip Seymour Hoffman dead, and Philip Glass’s magnum opus Godzilla

on the Beach begin “One, two, three, four, five, Godzilla arrived on the

beach holding his giant boombox playing Steely Dan’s ‘Hey Nineteen,’

twenty, twenty-one” and all the way up to seven thousand six hundred

something? When I lost my job we moved out to the country where a

woman smiled at me because she thought I looked like Cheech Marin

in his younger years and I thought, Man, she must be fucking high.


Like Caine in Kung Fu

Wednesday morning in our rented house, with my wife and daughter

out for a bike ride, my nine-year old son in the living room, I’m in

the shower with the door open when I hear a voice from down the hall

saying “Dad?” and I say, “Yes, I’ll be out in a minute,” because sometimes

he needs assurance that someone is there just as I treasure the comfort

of knowing I am here, still, in this world, where in a movie Val Kilmer

played Philip II who ruled over Macedon until his assassination in 336 BC,

and Samuel L. Jackson played hitman Jules Winnfield in the 1994 film

Pulp Fiction. When I finish my shower and get dressed, I join my son

in the living room, happy that I am neither king nor hired gun, but am simply

a father and husband, walking the earth, living for a time in rented rooms

under a sky that sometimes storms and sometimes shines over lovers and

thieves, murderers and learners, and the trees, mountains, and rivers that

flow everyday and endlessly, giving back what they owe to the sea.

Copyright 2022 Jose Padua

Jose Padua’s A Short History of Monsters was chosen by former poet laureate Billy Collins as the winner of the 2019 Miller Williams Poetry Prize and was published by the University of Arkansas Press in March, 2019.

2 comments on “Jose Padua: Ten Sonnets for Electric Motherfuckers — The Second Decad

  1. Rose Mary Boehm
    November 5, 2022


    Liked by 2 people

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