Monday, July 27, 2009

Poetry Monday: "Somebody Was Breaking Windows"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

On March 29th of this year, well before the advent of Poetry Monday I featured a poem in this blog by Luis J. Rodriguez, a poet, story-teller, and immigrants' rights advocate whom I met at the Cesar Chavez Conference in Glendale. That piece was entitled Running to America, a harsh, yet beautiful, description of the struggle of "illegal" immigrants in their quest to get into the United States for a better life. Running to America is the opening poem in Rodriguez' collection called My Nature is Hunger. Every poem in the volume is stunning, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Part of my job with the Air Force is to facilitate Anger Management Groups for men and women. Most of the people who come into those groups, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes not, are young and are dealing with the pressures of relationships, young families, and highly stressful jobs. It isn't surprising that when those types of pressures are present, anger and rage often result. I use the following poem by Luis Rodriguez, Somebody Was Breaking Windows, to identify with the rage that is often within the members of the group and to get the conversation on anger flowing. It usually has a very powerful impact, because the characters in the poem are very much like the people sitting around the table talking about their anger issues.

Somebody Was Breaking Windows
By Luis J. Rodriguez

Somebody was breaking windows
out of a 1970’s Ford.
Somebody’s anger, for who knows what,
shattered the fragile mirror of sleep,
the morning silence
and chatter of birds.
A sledge hammer in both hands then crashed
onto the side of the car,
down the hood,
through the front grill and headlights.
This Humboldt Park street screamed
in the rage of a single young man.
Nobody got out of their homes.
Nobody did anything.
The dude kept yelling
and tearing into the car.
Nobody claimed it.
I looked out of the window as he swung again.
Next to me was a woman.
We had just awakened after a night of lovemaking.
Her six-year-old daughter was asleep
on a rug in the living room.
The woman placed her arms around me
and we both watched through the louver blinds.
Pieces of the car tumbled
onto the steamed asphalt.
Man hands to create it.
Man hands to destroy it.
Something about being so mad
and taking it out on a car.
Anybody’s car.
I mean, cars get killed everyday.
I understood this pain.
And every time he swung down on the metal,
I felt the blue heat swim up his veins.
I sensed the seething eye staring from his chest,
the gleam of sweat on his neck,
the anger of a thousand sneers
--the storm of bright lights
into the abyss of an eyeball.
Lonely? Out of work? Out of time?
I knew this pain. I wanted to be there,
to yell out with him,
to squeeze out the violence
that gnawed at his throat.
I wanted to be that sledge hammer,
to be the crush of steel on glass,
to be this angry young man,
a woman at my side.

My Nature is Hunger by Luis J. Rodriguez is available from Amazon. It is an amazing collection.

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