Norton Island, Maine, 2021 by Eddie Vega

image credits: Tacos by Chad Montano, Lobster by Jeremy Bezanger, Mariachi by Mark Williams, Ocean by Aleks Dahlberg, Trail by Ethan Unzicker all on Unsplash

Eddie Vega reading “Norton Island 2021” image credit: Aleks Dahlberg
Norton Island, Maine, 2021

I came to the woods and found 
trees like a south Texas boy had never seen, 
trails leading to nowhere necessary
bugs creepy and crunchy and too pretty to be harmless
waterscapes, landscapes, and every other escape I’ve ever dreamed

I came to the woods and realized I’m an urban poet - 
these trees ain’t doing shit for my writing
these trails scare me 
the bugs are unnecessary

I sat on a rock for an hour and found some peace, but it didn't move me
except to leave the spot as the tide started to come in
making me fear that I’d be washed out to sea 
the lobsters from last night might’ve been tasty 
but I don’t want them to return the favor 

I’m an urban poet and let me tell you what I don’t see here:

Two weeks ago I saw a woman and a 10-year-old boy at Circle K at 4am
trying on hats after putting an assortment of snacks on the counter

I read at a dive where my whiskey was served in a dollar-store plastic cup, 
the bartender couldn’t wear a mask because he was sharing a joint with a customer

I heard a dude tell his homie, “Pos, chingué la disco ball!”
There was a girl at Woodlawn Lake who I heard say,
“my mom’s been dating my boyfriend’s tio for a while now…”

A punkster all in black, tattoo sleeves for arms, chain hanging from his jeans, 
was walking past Plato’s Closet toward Ross or Burlington or whatever, pleading on the phone
	“Michelle! Michelle! MICHELLE!	
I know, and part of me agrees with everything you’re saying, but wait,
	Michelle, you mean more to me in this actual moment than anything else!”

I was at Pizza Classics at 11:27pm on a Wednesday, ordering wings
watching as a cop talked to the guy he just pulled over into the parking lot
as a mariachi walked in before
the ambulance showed up because someone cut themselves in the kitchen
the cutting victim was the only one outside, no co-workers to check on him

I heard a lady getting into the Ford Escort outside of the phone store
yelling at someone in the car,
“You better come touch this shit before you give it ojo, mama. 
I’ll fuck you up and you’ll have to buy me a new one.”

Somewhere in this city is a single dad 
realizing he’s the single rider on the bus home
	realizing the bus driver is the last person he’s going to see until tomorrow
realizing he’s on his way to eat dinner for one at a table for four

So give me
buildings and bus stops
homies and hoop-dees
mariachis and mocosos
all the ordinary people, each messed up in their own beautiful ways

Maybe later I can write about the two-hour hike I took around this island
where my overweight and clumsy ass almost died eight times
but, there’s a real privilege in this landscape
that requires waterproof hiking boots and wool socks

I’d rather write about the rascuache that lives in my heart or the tlacuache that lives in my hood
than this forested, granite rock landscape that, in all honesty
just wants to kill me

~Eddie Vega

Eddie Vega is a poet, spoken word artist, storyteller, and educator. His poetry has been displayed on VIA Buses and downtown San Antonio, Texas buildings. His first full-length collection of poetry, Chicharra Chorus, was published in 2019 by FlowerSong Press and he is the 2021 recipient of the Literary Arts Grant from the Luminaria Artist Foundation. Vega writes about food, Tejano culture, social justice, and the intersections thereof. Known as the Taco-Poet of Texas, he can be found at an open-mic, slam, or taqueria on any given, non-quarantined evening anywhere throughout South Texas.

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