Prompts for RWJ, Prompt 207

This life journey we’re on is part dream. Sort of what you dream about and then that’s what you get? But nope, it’s never straightforward. So maybe other people dreaming affects you too and we get entangled in another’s dream. Maybe. And the point is to get home. Home is where you get to be the real you. Finally. The rest is just necessary fluff. You know, like male machismo. What’s up with that? Part dream, part ritual? Maybe that’s what is so strong about an immigrant poem like Patrick Dosal’s “Uptown Ode That Ends on an Ode to the Machete” (from which the Puerto Rican quote’s taken). He revisits his memory of a neighbourhood in the Phillipines, his origin country, where the smiths make machettes–to bring home a hard lesson. So in your poem, try to fuse dream with memory of what home means. You know the saying, “Home is where the heart is.”

And that’s when
out of nowhere in the middle of the room’s boom-
braddah macumba candombe bámbula
this Puerto Rican leans over and says to me
real slow, “Everybody is trying to get
home.” And I’m like, “Aw fuck.” because
I’m on 1st Ave between 115th and 116th
not even invested in the full swerve yet.
It’s not even five past midnight and Will
is dropping science like that. Allow me
to translate: There are neighborhoods in America
where a man says one simple sentence
and out flow the first seventeen discrete meanings
of home. If you haven’t been broken by the ocean,
if your own weeping doesn’t split you down
into equal weathers: monsoon, say, and gossip,
if you can’t stand at the front door
of an ancestral house and see a black saint
staring down at you, no name, no judgment,
if you haven’t listened to the town drunks
laughing underneath a tree they planted
so they wouldn’t forget your pain, then your story
must have a whole other set of secrets.

From Patrick Dosal’s “Uptown Ode That Ends on an Ode to the Machete”


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