“It would be neat if with the New Year” by Jimmy Santiago Baca

for Miguel

It would be neat if with the New Year
I could leave my loneliness behind with the old year.
My leathery loneliness an old pair of work boots
my dog vigorously head-shakes back and forth in its jaws,
chews on for hours every day in my front yard—
rain, sun, snow, or wind
in bare feet, pondering my poem,
I’d look out my window and see that dirty pair of boots in the yard.

But my happiness depends so much on wearing those boots.

At the end of my day
while I’m in a chair listening to a Mexican corrido
I stare at my boots appreciating:
all the wrong roads we’ve taken, all the drug and whiskey houses
we’ve visited, and as the Mexican singer wails his pain,
I smile at my boots, understanding every note in his voice,
and strangers, when they see my boots rocking back and forth on my
keeping beat to the song, see how
my boots are scuffed, tooth-marked, worn-soled.

I keep wearing them because they fit so good
and I need them, especially when I love so hard,
where I go up those boulder strewn trails,
where flowers crack rocks in their defiant love for the light.



“It would be neat if with the New Year” by Jimmy Santiago Baca, from Winter Poems Along the Río Grande. Copyright © 2004 by Jimmy Santiago Baca. New Directions Publishing Corp.

7 thoughts on ““It would be neat if with the New Year” by Jimmy Santiago Baca

  1. Chris Elliott

    The end line was electric:

    “…flowers crack rocks in their defiant love for the light.”

    That will speak to me for the entire new year! Thank you
    for the love you share with us through your work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Chris,
      I loved the entire poem, but yes that last line is just a gut-punch. Defiant love for the light.

      My mood goes up and down often, and when it settles, it tends to fall slightly off center toward the darker end of the spectrum. I have to often work to look for the light, just like one of those flowers. And yet, my dark mood is much like Jimmy’s referenced boots…the stories, the experiences, the scars…my dark mood is what makes me search for and appreciate the light. It’s hard to articulate, but thought Jimmy did so masterfully.

      Another favorite poem is by Bukowski. It begins:

      A Vote For the Gentle Light – Charles Bukowski

      a vote for the gentle light
      burned senseless by other people’s constant
      I pull the curtains apart,
      aching for the gentle light.
      it’s there, it’s there
      I’m sure.

      to read the entire piece: https://wordsfortheyear.com/2014/04/21/a-vote-for-the-gentle-light-by-charles-bukowski/

      Really appreciate your comment and kind words, thank you,


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