Skinnin' The Pachuco

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: teaching


Surrounded by cedar, magnolia, and oak trees
I’m standing inside a library
explaining myself to strangers, again
asking folks to walk into my poems
and sit down in the middle of
any sentence they like,
asking folks to dig in to my
heart of disaster with knife and fork,
and see how I still taste like joy.

How did I get here? Mostly?
By listening
By asking questions
By showing up
By staying
By writing
By trying
By writing
By trying

A poem isn’t a prop, a ploy, or a toy
It is a bridge
It is a seed
A poem begins and once it’s over,
it still never ends

Words, precious words, please
remember me as I am:
Lying among the tall-grass
of language
as the fire flies
ignite the next word
I am going to write
Every night
I am blinded by so much flickering light
I chase a poem across a page and
suddenly I hear my voice on stage,
or in my kitchen, or in my car,
or in the living room, or this library
where all I do is carry
the story of my life,
and ask if you’d like
a bite.


Question: Mr. Zachary, is this poem good?

Translation: Last week, we learned what rejection meant.
I do not like the definition of that word. Is there anything
wrong with what I feel? Am I good enough? Nobody ever
listens to what I have to say. Last week, we learned what
worthy meant. I want to mean worthy.

Question: Mr. Zachary, does this poem have to rhyme?

Translation: If there are rules, I don’t want to break them.
I just hate when language has expectation. I don’t want
to be expected.

Question: Mr. Zachary, do I have to read this poem out loud?

Translation: I’ve never trusted my mouth. Inside is a voice I am
afraid to let out. Who is going to listen to me? What do you mean
the stage is mine? What do you mean I can command an audience
just by speaking?

Question: Mr. Zachary, what if we don’t know what to write?

Translation: How does anyone ever say what they mean? Self-
Expression is confusing. How can I matter just by saying so?
If I have a story, you mean I have to write it? I don’t want to say
what I have to say. You mean someone is listening?  I don’t think
so. No one wants to know what’s inside my head. Not even me.