The Sunday Poem: Richard Vargas... why my ex-wife will go to heaven

Richard is one of Albuquerque's strongest voices. He continues to walk down your streets, taking it all in and making sense. Today's poem about his ex-wife partially takes place in his ex-home, Rockford, Illinois. Incredibly, I lived there for 18 years myself.

Vargas is the editor of the poetry journal Mas Tequila Review. It just published its first issue (available for a reasonable six bucks). Purchase and publication info is on its Facebook page.

why my ex-wife will go to heaven

one day you find yourself managing
a Hallmark gift shop in the San Bernardino
mall and it’s busy because one of the major
holidays is approaching
those ones that bring in the big bucks
that make or break the quarterly profit report
the report that keeps the home office happy
or gives them the excuse to ride your ass into
the ground for the next three months
so this is what it comes down to
as your crew of underpaid clerks
man the register and cruise the aisles
helping customers locate that special piece
of over-priced cheap merchandise and
the sappy card to match

and as you take position up front to
meet and greet the crowd you notice
the young mother with her toddler in hand
you know the type well
she’ll browse and take her time while
junior is turned loose to make like
a tasmanian devil touching and grabbing
his heart’s desire as your staff is transformed
into a team of impromptu babysitters
this is how it is and you accept it

a few minutes go by and you see
the child again as he is leaving the store
but this time someone else is holding his hand
someone avoiding eye contact
someone trying to walk fast and not be noticed

years later as you stare the approaching golden years in the face
sitting in a bar in Rockford, Illinois, stacking achievements
and accomplishments against the failures and near-misses
wonder what the hell went wrong
remember this:

how you didn’t hesitate to approach them
as they attempted to leave
how you ignored the man at his side and
bent down so you looked the kid eye to eye
and asked, “where’s your mommy?”
how you heard the sinister whoosh of hot air
as his hand was dropped and the faceless stranger
stepped into the crowd

later, after reports by security and interviews with police
you took a phone call from the near-hysterical parents
who kept repeating “thank you, god bless you,
thank you, god bless you, thank you, god bless you…”

they were chanting for you
elevating your spirit and
that’s as good as it gets

Submissions to The Sunday Poem are encouraged. Email

Views: 175

Comment by Margaret Randall on August 8, 2010 at 8:29am
Oh my god, Richard, this is magnificent... you do the close to impossible, which is to take a a factual new-report type piece and make it sing in a poem... not relinquishing any of the news, and not sacrificing any of the poetic elements either. I really love this! And now we are off to hear you and Rich at Church of Beethoven... for more Sunday morning poetry.
Comment by Richard V on August 8, 2010 at 8:50am
jon, thanks for the feature. here's the link to my website for The Mas Tequila Review...
Comment by bg on August 8, 2010 at 9:08am
Sunday poetry, ahhh.

And the gates of heaven too.
Comment by cathyray on August 8, 2010 at 9:23am
another great poem to start Sunday morning! I had a similar experience that I had forgotten all about. I'm glad for the reminder that all of our kindnesses really do add up. This poem really brought up some vivid pictures for me & I thank you, Richard V!!
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on August 8, 2010 at 12:24pm
awww I love this--I love still lauding the strengths of an ex-- great poetic contrast to the kidnapper--someone who missed most every piece of good news in his sad life
thx, Rich
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on August 8, 2010 at 12:26pm
Sorry to have missed C of B--I promised to meet Ms Gina Marselle at the airport--took her to and fro due to a fairly deep fear of flying and she's my friend--
Comment by Adelita on August 8, 2010 at 5:33pm
I just want to say thank you for a wonderful poem. Wow!
Comment by Georgia Santa-Maria on August 9, 2010 at 1:02am
Great--good poem, wonderful story, and so heartening to hear someone say good things about an Ex. Good for her, good for you, and good for the rest of us too.
Comment by Michael P. "Martini Mike" D'Arco on August 9, 2010 at 12:41pm
Fantastic poem!
Comment by Barelas Babe on August 9, 2010 at 10:08pm
What grace there is in this poem! Beautifully done, Richard.


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