by Paul Lobo Portugés


When my wife gave birth on the floor as I “caught” him, I, with blood and bone, bonded with my son. In those years of post-partum depression, he kept me up most nights, shat on my sleeve, and when feverish, cried for his mama until dawn lifted the heads of sunflowers. For years, I, mommy-daddy, had to forget poetry because our winter born boy needed his diaper changed, her ancient tit, me house cleaning, singing lullabies like a dove. But as soon as my son started chasing ducks, and despite my good gone friend’s cancer battles, I became a thief of song, in fits and bits, my jists and piths scribbled in a back-pocket notebook. Then baths, sweeping, helping him memorize the constellations, paying bills, watching my wife sleep day-in night-long. With Ginsberg’s gift of a tape recorder, I dictated my paper songs as we kissed the joy and sorrow. In the naked cold of stolen nights, I’d cover him, nightwatch, and until dawn scribble my fearful dreams. And when rain made bitter grass green with laughter, he’d spring from the winter of his room, yell to his buddies, “Wait up,” or in a vacant lot, freckled faced he’d float at the happy end of his 99¢ kite while I penciled happy him kicking red and gold leaves swirling down streets of locked doors with footloose laughter. That’s why my little poems years later still are short, and though he is his own book of poems, my lovers lost, friends joyless, I still hope:

                                    when I’m dust
                                    my son might
                                    think of me
                                    when he’s gone
                                    I’ve only
                                    a poem
                                    or two

Paul Lobo Portugés – reared in Merkel, West Texas, until saved by UCLA, the American Film Institute, and UC Berkeley. Teaches creative writing at UCSB.  Taught creative writing at USC, SBCC, and the University of Provence.  Proud father of two sons. Books include The Visionary Poetics of Allen Ginsberg, Saving Grace, Hands Across the Earth, The Flower Vendor, Paper Song, Aztec Birth, The Body Electric Journal, The Silent Spring of Rachel CarsonOn Tibetan Buddhism, MantrasDrugs, Breaking Bread, Mao (forthcoming), and 1,000 Poems of Love and War (forthcoming).  Poems are scattered in small magazines across the Americas, Europe, and Asia.  Wrote a few films including Jack and Marilyn,Behind the Veil, Shakespeare’s Last Bed, and Fire From the Mountain. Poetry videos include To My BelovedKissThe Lonely Wind, Lovers, Of Her I Sing, Fathermine, Stones from Heaven, and The Killing Fields of Darfur. Received awards from the National Endowment, the Ford Foundation, the American Film Institute, the Fulbright Commission, and the Rockefeller Foundation.