Sundays Are For Poets: Richard Vargas ...Two Poems

Although DCF member Richard Vargas grew up in Los Angeles, he has lived in Albuquerque for several years. He has had two books published: American Jesus and McLife. Garrison Keillor featured him on The Writer's Almanac not once, but twice. Currently he is enrolled in UNM's MFA program.

Last year the Duke City Fix did a piece about him that featured a couple of videos of him reading "on location" outside the ghetto Smith's and on Central Ave. Finally, he has a couple of local readings coming up:
3/7 at 516 ARTS with Jessica Lopez, Levi Romero, Michelle Otero, and Cora Romo.
• 4/18 at the South Broadway Cultural Center, "Some of My Best Friends Are Poets" poetry reading.

Here are two brand-new poems straight from the heart. The first, the day after the election, takes place entirely within a WalMart. The second, no regrets, helps to explain why Vargas continues to write from the point of view of a working man. And why poetry never pays.


the day after the election

found myself shopping
for a flag because today
seemed as good a day
as any to hang one out front
it’s been eight yrs since
i felt like flying one
been eight yrs since
i watched it waving
in the breeze and thought
about things like our promise
and potential and got all
fuzzy and warm inside

so i’m wandering the aisles
of the local walmart
where we all shop
especially during tough times
yeah i know the elite
sentiment is to boycott
the place but the elite
don’t live paycheck
to paycheck or collect
unemployment and the
real reason mr. happy face is
everywhere in the store is
because he knows sooner
or later he's got us all
by the balls

i look everywhere for
the good old red white and blue
but i can’t find one anywhere
finally i ask an employee
where are the flags and he
tells me walmart considers
the flag to be a seasonal item
and right now is not the season
as we stand amidst shelves
piled up with christmas shit
made in china

if this doesn’t sum up the mess we’re in
nothing does

* * * * * * * * * *


no regrets

i haven’t owned a suit for over 10 yrs
a necktie makes me turn around
and head in the other direction
i wear shoes that don’t need to be polished

my jeans are bought on sale
i wear them until the holes
in the knees get too big
my favorite t-shirt has a picture
of Thelonius Monk on the back
saying “sometimes it’s to your advantage
for people to think you’re crazy”
my shoes are comfortable
made for walking fast down
dark alleys or summer strolls
on sidewalks when women
put on shorts and show off
their pretty legs

i don’t ride corporate jets
or company limos
the last helicopter i rode in
was at Ft Benning Georgia
the summer of ‘79
when they were training us
how to jump out of one
and be prepared to shoot
something before our feet
touched the ground

i don’t make those big
important decisions like
how to convince people
to buy something they
don’t need while paying
them as little as possible
to make it

out of work
doing the unemployed shuffle
eating off the dollar menu
buying gas five bucks at a time
wondering if the good old days
are gone for good

i watch them as they tell everyone
who will listen if they go down
they’re taking all of us with them
read about how they make sure
the suits are still getting bonuses
and motivational retreats at secluded
5 star hotels while eating thick cuts
of pink meat and baked potatoes
floating in hot pools of butter
i had moments in my life
when i could have joined them
sit at the table of capitalism
become a shark among the seals
but they smelled
they all smelled bad
and one day i noticed
i smelled like them
so i pushed myself away
and never turned back

today i bought a lottery ticket
my only hope for a bailout
i folded it up and put it
in my wallet
once in a while i pull it out
and hold it in my hand

this is how it is
better get used
to it

Submissions to Sundays Are For Poets are welcome. Send one or two poems with a short bio, any links, and a picture to Past posts are on The Ditchrider's blog page.

Views: 172

Comment by Adelita on February 15, 2009 at 10:18am
Richard, these are exquisite.

DitchRider, I'll be looking forward to these Sunday poems. Thanks.
Comment by cathyray on February 15, 2009 at 11:10am
wonderful, just great. What a nice way to begin my day with a little poetry. I am gong to paint that T Monk saying somewhere. Also, I think you summed up walmart right on!!
Sunday Poetry, how cool.
I know, I know, I use the word cool way too much but I love it.
Comment by the hand model on February 15, 2009 at 12:22pm
Comment by Ricky on February 16, 2009 at 7:42am
A seasonal flag, seems about right
when people don't buy them because
they're mad or uptight.

Their patriotism swells, as their
"side" takes the reins.
Instead of recalling what the
Colors sustain.

The white, the red and even the blue,
never stand idle as you or I do.
It waves over forest, glacier and sand,
And is never a symbol for any one man.

So when your in walmart
buying a flag,
because "suddenly" you have
pride in an
"executive" stag.

write a poem about socks, towels and
'cause the flag means more
than a 'seasonal" treat.
Comment by Richard V on February 16, 2009 at 1:02pm
ricky, in this day and age, thoughts like "USA, take it or leave it" and "god bless america, right or wrong" are used by people like those who were in charge for the last 8 yrs to commit criminal acts "in our name." sorry, dude, you have to have standards and learn to question authority. i did my time serving this country, and i earned the right to question it. maybe you had a president the last 8 years, but i sure didn't. we got our flag, and country, back on election day. still great cause to celebrate. thanks for taking the time to read the poem, though. if it makes you get creative and write poetry, then i must be doing sommething right.
Comment by Barelas Babe on February 16, 2009 at 2:13pm
Richard - what a treat to read your work! I hope our paths cross soon - in Barelas or outside of it. Good luck with your move.
Comment by Jennifer Ruden on February 17, 2009 at 1:26pm
These poems were fantastic. I shop at Wal-mart too. It's disgusting, I know, but I have two kids and cereal can be $1.50. I'm just saying. peace.
Comment by Ricky on February 17, 2009 at 4:38pm
Richard V, questioning authority is
a wonderful thing;
and I would never criticize
the freedom that brings.

But to say that you can't even hang
your flag,
because there's no man in the whitehouse
on whom you can brag -

is sad and pathetic and a
fearful lie,
because it's the country, not the man,
in which we rely.

I think that Obama is a well-spoken
but he's just a man in an executive suit.

The president, yes, he's that
And though I think of poorly
of him and his deeds.

he's not my country, and he's not
the reason I care.
If the flag is dishonored because
of political fears.

Strange how you gather your
pride in one man.
Rather than the nation in which
we all stand.

I'm glad to know you
did your time.
As if you were criminal
being punished for crime.

There's a bunch of
us who have stood
straight and erect
but it gives us no right to
disparage and forget.

I fly my flag, no matter
what man -
stands in the office
in washing-TAN.

God Bless America, Richard, whether you take it or leave it when the going gets tough is up to you.

Good luck with the whole poetry thing. Writing your feelings down on paper heIp's I hear.
Comment by Richard V on February 17, 2009 at 6:44pm
oh yeah, i did hang it once during the last eight years... upside down. keep writing poetry and flying the flag. we need all the patriots we can find while we try to dig ourselves out of this mess, even if you do refer to Pres. Obama as a "fruit." (i hope "fruit" is a poetic metaphor, because if it's not, then i'm wasting my time responding to your post.) and please don't question my stint as an officer in the united states infantry. if you've also served, and earned your patriotism the hard way, then i salute you. i'm sure you know how it feels when someone refers to it with disdain. if you haven't served, i encourage you to do so. you might learn something.
oh, and you might consider enrolling in some creative writing classes at CNM or UNM. you obviously have some talent and a lot of desire. thanks ricky, again for letting me know i must be doing something right. good art provokes, and you've certainly proven the point.
Comment by Ricky on February 17, 2009 at 7:22pm
I've served Richard. But I didn't serve "time".
It was a choice and an honor of mine.

I don't know whether you're wasting your time or not, so I'll be frank. I don't like the President or his ideas. I think he will take us deeper into debt until were so far down we won't have any idea how to get out without complete and absolute control from the government.

But even if the president wipes his ass on the flag (which is about the same as hanging it upside down as far as I'm concerned) it won't change where I hang mine. If he takes the constitution and tears it open until nothing but the blood of Thomas Jefferson leaks from it's broken seals, I'll still fly the flag.

And just to be fair, as I am known far and wide as fair and balanced, I feel the same way about any arm chair patriot who buys a flag out of some sudden allegiance, not to the country but to a man. And on the other side, If a single man can take from you the heart and blood that is soaked in the flag from 200 plus years of death and defense, then what a weak and pathetic country we are.

If you can so easily hang the colors wrong side up and disparage every single man, woman and child who has died under it, then, well, good for you. My soul in connection to this nation goes deeper than 8 years Richard and deeper than any fruit named Obama or Bush.

Sad that yours doesn't'.

I have no desire to be a poet Richard. I'm much happier having taken CDL classes at CNM than I ever would be trying to have someone teach me how the rhythm of a stanza works. Poets these days don't use rhythm anyway, they just jot down whatever pops in their head and call it 'art".

Maybe I'm wrong about you Richard. I am sometimes wrong. Sometimes. I am very opinionated and passionate, but I would never try and take from you what you think is real, no matter how dumb I may feel it is. I do however hold onto the right to voice how dumb "I think" it is.

Be well Richard, and you're welcome, I'm all about proving points.


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