Richard Garcia is the author of Rancho Notorious (BOA Editions, 2001) and The Flying Garcias (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993). He is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Pushcart Prize and the Cohen Award from Ploughshares. Since 1991 he has been the Poet-in-Residence at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, where he conducts poetry and art workshops for hospitalized children. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles.
One night the moon came into my room. It must have said something, because I sat up, startled. "Who's there?"
"It's only me, the moon replied, Go back to sleep." I began to rise, but the moon made reassuring gestures, whispering, "Sleep, sleep, it's OK."
I lay back pretending to sleep with the sheet over my face. But I left a little opening so I could keep an eye on the the moon as it walked through my room. Quietly, it pulled open drawers, examined pictures, touched the clothes that were thrown over a chair, read the titles of books stacked on the bureau.
Finally, I got tired of watching the moon and went back to sleep.
Then I dreamed that the moon came into my room and I sat up . "Weren't you just here a moment ago?" I asked the moon.
"Shush," said the moon, "Go back to sleep, you're dreaming."
Poet heads are floating in the wilderness, their heads rising in the mist toward fir trees and pinnacles of granite. That's what it's like to be a poet. Your head fills up with something: air, helium, aether, poetic thoughts‹detaches from your body and rises toward the glaciers‹not unlike the segmented tail of the pololo worm that resides in the mud on the bottom of the South China Sea. When the moon is full their tails separate from their bodies and rise to the surface to mate with all the other pololo worm tails.
Do poet heads mate with other poet heads in the clouds and then drift back down and reattach to their bodies? Do they mate with gods or goddesses by floating up and inside their togas? Maybe, maybe not, but I do know that in the brochure, poet heads are floating in the wilderness to summon poetry lovers to the poetry festival.
If you look closely, perhaps with a magnifying glass, you can see my poet body slouched in a chair on the stage of last year's poetry reading. My tiny pinhead is still attached to my body. I'm on next. It will be the most perfect reading of my life as a poet so far, so perfect my arm will fly out in a dramatic gesture and strike my water bottle. The bottle will fly off the podium as if I had flung it at the audience. But the audience will not notice, because I will catch it and put it back on the podium without missing a beat of my poem‹this one, about poet heads floating in the wilderness.
Meanwhile, in the brochure, a poet is reading at the mike. I'm slouched in my chair and leaning toward my left. I seem to be pointing upward. Perhaps I'm whispering to the poet sitting next to me, voicing my concern that the parachute canopies undulating in the treetops like a gigantic, striped jellyfish could be hazardous to all the poet heads floating in the wilderness.