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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Ron Padgett - What Are You On?

If you asked an Elizabethan

What are you on?

he or she would have answered

The earth, this terrestrial globe

whereas today it means

What medication

are you taking?

(Are you taking has less energy

than What medication it is an anticlimax

without a climax)

And today What are you on about?

would have sounded like

What are you of thereabouts in?

and will

So what medications are

you on?

I am taking italics it pokes

a hole in whatever is going to be

so I can slip through

and not have arms and legs all the time

You've lost me and I'm not even an Elizabethan

That's O.K. neither am I though both

of us bestride this terrestrial globe

and fain would lie down

for the earth is a medication a giant pill

we ride on

like the aspirin in the poem I wrote in 1966

and didn't understand until last night or was it this morning

A.M. and P.M. are medications

I take one in the morning and one in the evening


Some day people will look back

at the twentieth century and think

How backward they were

the way some look back now

at tribal societies and say

But primitive life was so dirty how

could you keep things clean?

not knowing that tribal people

lived in the Garden of Eden

comparatively speaking

That is they had more humanity

than later people

who traded theirs for technology

so that those people who look back at Earth

some day from a distant galaxy

will not be people at all

comparatively speaking

they will be cue balls


But this morning I am not in a billiard situation the sun

is shining onto my house and the trees

are feeling like their tops because they are still in the Garden of Eden

that is the gentle endless hush

of an endless mother to her endless newborn child

Things are there

covered with sparkles

that have nothing to do with sunlight

the way one night I got out of bed and found

that I was covered with sparkles very small ones

I wondered if I would be covered with sparkles the rest of my life

and if other people had them

But these are not the same sparkles that things have on them

except the ocean sometimes at night


By day the ocean moves away from where it was

but a mountain does not

Somewhere in between lies Hidden Valley

where Grandpa comes out of his cabin

and staggers around the dooryard

then goes back inside

where Grandma is holding a baking tin

of fresh hot biscuits

but she will give him none

Give me some biscuits he cries

but she smiles and shakes her head

They are all for me she exults

and then laughs she is only joking

Grandpa sits down at the table

and pretends to be dead

revived only by die muffled thud of the biscuit tin

Where's mah coffee he roars

even though he sees it in the cup before him

and Grandma says We're plumb out

That's how the day begins in Hidden Valley


But where are the grandchildren

They are scattered about the world in jagged pieces

that move like birds in spring

with colors and speedometers on them

Someday they will return to Hidden Valley

and form another mountain

to make Hidden Valley even more hidden

when the waterfall closes over it


You think I don't know where it is


or is that just a ploy to get me to tell you?

You are like the guy who looked all over

for his hat and later learned it was on his head

but it didn't mean anything until he realized he had a head

and that the hat was both on and inside it

and when he did

it was not a rabbit that he pulled out

but a rectangle in which the rabbit was imprisoned

You don't want to be that guy, do you?

You would rather be the rabbit

when all along you could have been the waterfall


We move ahead in our story to five years later

then we move five years back

because there is no story

only a collection of events with no beginning,

no end, and therefore no middle, it is all

one big beginning, middle, and end every second

and though you are in it you are also to the side

like an actor waiting in the wings for the cue

that will cause the stage to light up and expand

though it is also the cue for the audience to rise

and head for the exits, because they are the real players

and you, it turns out, are part of the scenery

propped up against a wall, gathering dust along your top ridge,

for soon you will be transported to Hidden Valley

and placed among the other mountains


One of these mountains is the Earl of Essex

covered with the crud

of having galloped all the way across Wales and England nonstop

Essex who dashed up the palace stairs and barged

into Elizabeth's private chamber unannounced

—where no man had ever set foot—

midst the gasps and cries of her ladies-in-waiting

and there it is

his face

on the front of his head

and her face coming off her head

and starting toward him

because she knew right then his head

would be severed from his body

but what she did not know

is that he too would end up in Hidden Valley

raining down his sparkles upon the house of Grandma and Grandpa


Are you enjoying your vacation

Yes I am

in fact so much that I don't even think of it as a vacation or as

      anything else

and come to think of it I don't even think of it

it's just the way things are

How about you

Yes I too am enjoying my vacation

Well good




What you just said about your vacation I'm not sure I understand

     what you mean

I didn't mean much of anything I guess

The mountains around here have a way of making me not think very


maybe because they aren't thinking at all who knows

and I tend to become like whatever I'm around


But you're always around air do you turn into air

Yes I'm always air

What about Grandma and Grandpa are you turning into them

No I can't turn into them I already am them


Well that is very interesting

but I have to scoot along now


And a fine day to you as well


Ireland rose up on the horizon

backlit by history

but Hidden Valley was too powerful it made Ireland sink back down

though the voices of Ireland could be heard in the distance

some singing others laughing and some wailing and scolding

and then they too faded when Grandpa brandished his lips at them


for he wished to sing himself

and all alone on the veranda of his own personality

the one built partly by him and partly by the celestial carpenters

who found his scratchy gurgling caterwauling arias to be as


as he found them to be beautiful and moving—

arias that caused tears to gush forth from the sky

you could see when you looked up into his eyes

not long after you were born

the sky at night


and professional wrestling was on TV

Antonino Rocca bounded around the ring

evading horrible huge guys who fought dirty

the kind you would find only in New York City

when it was in black and white

little Antonino who looked like a short-order cook in a diner

but who dodged and slid and leaped so fast

the horrible big guys couldn't catch him

but when they did, Ow! Get away, Antonino!

and he came back to life and slithered free

and hurled the big guys down and one-two-three boom

they were pinned

and once more he smiled

at people like us out in the middle of nowhere

prompting Grandpa to clear his throat and say

It's time for bed it's way past time

and it was

but we were hidden outside of time

and no one would know

because they were visible inside of time

I was happy in Hidden Valley happy enough

and I'm happy I once lived there

Maybe I'll find myself there again someday

even though the mountains will be gone

and the rest changed beyond all recognition



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