Eugene Gloria’s poems are surprisingly long. Self doesn’t usually read such long poems — they can go on, the dense text, for three or four pages (For the same reason, she doesn’t enjoy reading long stories — A short story should be able to do its work in 20 pages or less, if possible. Just her two cents). But what the heck, she brought this book with her to Southern California, and she’s in Venice Beach, which is all sun and bikers and surfers and funky eateries.
Here’s part of a poem she really likes (because after reading it she thought: “I know this person. Or plenty like him.”).
It’s from Gloria’s collection Hoodlum Birds (Penguin Books, 2006). Self bought her copy from City Lights after a reading in November 2006.:
“My Bad Uncle”
I saw him that night, his hands braceleted
behind his back — our neighborhood lit
like a bad uncle on a pint of scotch.
We all knew his sunnier days,
the perennial garden of his heart,
the shiny coins he doled out on his visits —
How he’d sacrifice himself to woman whims:
his mother’s, sisters’, wife’s, and lovers’. His gold Ford
Falcon that shuttled us back and forth to airports,
he was always available whenever we’d call.
He was a prince of the two-dollar cigarette variety,
a happy man in love.
But goodness is mostly work and hardly pays a thing
to the soul when it has to eat alone.
His own goodness would tell him to drive
all day to his fake errands, or circle round
and around in the El with a hideaway bag.
taking swigs between stops.
So one day when we weren’t thinking,
or were thinking only of ourselves,
he parked outside a Denny’s with his pistol
stuffed in his fanny pack. It was just a last-minute thing,
a quick bite then back to our house to sleep.
Takes very little to rouse the animal crouched in the garden:
The smirk of the local girl at the menu stand,
or the two boys spilling their Cokes on his new adidas.
A loud metal voice he seldom hears wells up
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.