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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

                                                                                                    feet

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.


Notes:

The epigraph of this poem was originally omitted in the changeover to the new website. Because of this, reciting the epigraph is optional for the 2019-2020 Poetry Out Loud season.

"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. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp., http://www.ndpublishing.com/.

Source: Winter Poems Along the R�o Grande (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2004)

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Living

Poet Bio

Jimmy Santiago Baca
Born in Santa Fe of Chicano and Apache descent, Jimmy Santiago Baca was abandoned by his parents and at thirteen ran away from the orphanage where his grandmother put him. He was convicted on drug charges in 1973 and spent five years in prison. There he learned to read and began writing poetry. His verse novel, Martin and Meditations on the South Valley, received the American Book Award in 1989. In addition to seven books of poetry, he has published memoirs, essays, stories, and a movie screenplay—Bound by Honor, released in 1993.

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