What is Broken…

…is What God Blesses – Jimmy Santiago Baca

     The lover’s footprint in the sand
     the ten-year-old kid’s bare feet
in the mud picking chili for rich growers,
not those seeking cultural or ethnic roots,
but those whose roots
have been exposed, hacked, dug up and burned
                                   and in those roots
                                   do animals burrow for warmth;
what is broken is blessed,
            not the knowledge and empty-shelled wisdom
            paraphrased from textbooks,
                          not the mimicking nor plaques of distinction
                          nor the ribbons and medals
but after the privileged carriage has passed
           the breeze blows traces of wheel ruts away
           and on the dust will again be the people’s broken

What is broken God blesses,
             not the perfectly brick-on-brick prison
             but the shattered wall
             that announces freedom to the world,
proclaims the irascible spirit of the human
rebelling against lies, against betrayal,
against taking what is not deserved;
            the human complaint is what God blesses,
            our impoverished dirt roads filled with cripples,
what is broken is baptized,
            the irreverent disbeliever,
            the addict’s arm seamed with needle marks
                        is a thread line of a blanket
            frayed and bare from keeping the man warm.
We are all broken ornaments,
                         glinting in our worn-out work gloves,
                         foreclosed homes, ruined marriages,
from which shimmer our lives in their deepest truths,
blood from the wound,

                                                  broken ornaments—
when we lost our perfection and honored our imperfect sentiments, we were
Broken are the ghettos, barrios, trailer parks where gangs duel to death,
yet through the wretchedness a woman of sixty comes riding her rusty bicycle,
                                   we embrace
                                   we bury in our hearts,
broken ornaments, accused, hunted, finding solace and refuge
                        we work, we worry, we love
                        but always with compassion
                        reflecting our blessings—
                                    in our brokenness
                                    thrives life, thrives light, thrives
                                                the essence of our strength,
                                                           each of us a warm fragment,
                                                           broken off from the greater
                                                           ornament of the unseen,
                                                           then rejoined as dust,

                                                                   to all this is.

– from ‘Spring Poems Along the Rio Grande'(New Directions Books 2007)

Relevant: Architect’s Notes//

Series of pastoral meditations chronicling Baca’s daily runs on the ABQ Bosque

“A hungry celebration of Spring” most poems are like taking a run w Baca; step by step, and bird by bird. No shadow/ animal/ person/ log/ article of trash/ or man-made structure goes unnoticed.

Pastoral. Observations of Albuquerque culture & passionate appreciation of heritage. Unpacking thoughts, memories, descriptions of pain & redemption, shamanistic illusions. Awareness of self as a poet. Awareness of ABQ//

Amor Fati. Love of one’s fate.

Embrace everything that happens to you.

  • No use for the redemption of organized religion, exercise in Pagan spirituality. Nature. 

  • “love of the Great Spirit”, “setting my heart to the river’s ways”, “sometimes, the river tells me things/ I don’t want to hear/ how my plans are infallible, built/ on fault line illusions.”  

— chills. these are the secrets that keeps me up @ nite


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