Still Life #3

maybe we should just write
and see what happens 

and what if something does?
could we live with ourselves
if nothing did? 

nothing has in such a long time
and yet that’s a lie too

didn’t you just laugh, smile
contemplate slicing my throat
as you reached for the butter knife
to cut up the pancakes?

and what if you had
sliced up my throat,
that is?

just as the transit bus
roared past
with cheers in the background
from the football game on the TV
rising in synchronized timing

the diner fans twirling
above the counter,
a fly darting between
its own negotiations 

and the sloshing of the waitress
putting away the day’s last pitcher
of iced tea 

did you notice the evening clouds
the multicolored patches of sky hemmed
against a blanket of crimson?

or the man walking down the street
his sunburnt cheeks
his aqua green Spanish-Basque eyes
veined with the need for a cure? 

in just the minute that passed
the day went from dusk to night
sometimes nothing
is what happens
as the world wobbles by

like now when the three men
at the other end of the counter trade jokes
the punch lines and the laughter
for themselves alone

you and I
are a juke box
of sad stories

and we’re down
to our last quarter

New Mexico Centennial poet laureate Levi Romero is the author of Sagrado: A Photopoetics across the Chicano Homeland, A Poetry of Remembrance: New and Rejected Works, and In the Gathering of Silence. He is from the Embudo Valley of northern New Mexico. He teaches in the Chicana/o Studies program at the University of New Mexico. 

Editorial note: “Still Life #3” was published in Sagrado in fall 2013.