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Reading Biographies

Perhaps Frost was poking his secretary,

The apple core of his good-living chewed

To the bitter seed. Perhaps he buttoned up,

Disgusted with the dead lizard cupped in his palm.

And his woman? She was as large as Gilbraltar,

A chunk of cheese in each armpit.

She took a deep breath

And wiggled the goose of her tasty fanny

Into the kitchen. There, she poured pancakes

Onto a skillet as old as this country,

And Frost, a pioneer for all writers,

Picked up his beaver-thrashed pencil and proclaimed,

O Sweet Youth, etc.

I don’t know how to read

Biographies, the dead words of dead writers

Etched on my eyes, then gone. I read them,

And drive my car recklessly through leaves,

The cushion for my own eventual death.

Sure, I reflect, like a chip of mirror,

And then I forget them, these subjects,

These writers with lungs and straight-A penmanship.

They’re of no use. I’m not saved

By the repetitions of jealousy and all-day drinking.

Wind frisked the trees, hair fell like wheat,

And the liver, saddlebag of disease,

Bulged with inoperable knots.

I touch my own hip, then hobble home

Where a pumpkin glows in a window.

Birds shrug into their coats of dirt.

Crickets stop the violin action of their thighs.

A fire is built, and I’m lit in the living room.

I’m a democrat, I slur to the couch,

And add, Venus is a star and fly trap.

Thank God, I’ve learned nothing.

– Gary Soto

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