by Juan Felipe Herrera, California Poet Laureate (2012-2014)

Before you go further, 

let me tell you what a poem brings, 

first, you must know the secret, there is no poem 

to speak of, it is a way to attain a life without boundaries, 

yes, it is that easy, a poem, imagine me telling you this, 

instead of going day by day against the razors, well, 

the judgments, all the tick-tock bronze, a leather jacket 

sizing you up, the fashion mall, for example, from
the outside you think you are being entertained,
when you enter, things change, you get caught by surprise, 

your mouth goes sour, you get thirsty, your legs grow cold 

standing still in the middle of a storm, a poem, of course,
is always open for business too, except, as you can see, 

it isn’t exactly business that pulls your spirit into 

the alarming waters, there you can bathe, you can play, 

you can even join in on the gossip—the mist, that is,
the mist becomes central to your existence. 

PHOTO: Juan Felipe Herrera, courtesy of Office of the Governor of California