Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Poncho Peligroso’s “the romantic”


                Poncho Peligroso is a poet worth blogging about. Besides working tirelessly in his newly appointed position of 2011 Poet Laureate he managed to come out with a book called “the romantic”. At 10,000 words, this is the largest offering of Poncho I’ve ever seen, a gathering of some of Poncho’s previous poems. Usually I get smaller portions. But the main question should be: Is “the romantic” good? Having read this book a few times, I can answer with a resounding yes. 

                The book is structured in an emotional way. Besides his humorous poems you’re treated to some extremely personal, anxious and oftentimes sad poems dedicated to an unknown girl. Whoever this girl is must be someone the narrator cares deeply about and perhaps even loves, hence the title. Some of the saddest ones involve the pains of distance, of moving away, and of finding out exactly how to care about other people. Common themes running throughout the poetry book include paranoia, humorous violence (in absurd chaos fashions involving personal hygiene and boners, boner chaos if you will), death, geography, love, beauty, and the emotional attachment that comes with the internet. 

                My favorite poems are those which effectively create an implied space or story. In poems like “watching you type” you get the feeling of an entire story behind these few interactions. Little lines reference what may or may not be a relationship. By not explicitly stating it the reader can make their own inference into what the poem is trying to convey. Towards the end of “the romantic” the humor is stripped away to a large degree revealing its heart. Reading the final poem entitled “the romantic” I peered into Poncho’s past, not as a poet, but as a person. It chronicled his evolution into the poet, the same one I wrote about months ago, about how he was a person who had just discovered himself. Upon finishing this chapbook I stand by that earlier statement: he has found himself in this language.

                I laughed and had tears well up a little bit. This may be due how much of this applies to me: I’m leaving the state I grew up in, much like Poncho is leaving the house he lived in for most of his life. We’re both traveling to new places. Even the way he writes about love is how I would like to if I could. But I’m not sure if I could.

                You may not know this due to a lack of Podcasts but I’m an even-tempered sloth rare to show any glimpses of ‘genuine emotion’. Lately I’ve begun to experience this emotion commonly known as ‘love’. Actually I’m not certain if I’m doing it right: oftentimes I can’t speak, despite being perfectly articulate. I feel it is tough for me to say exactly what I mean, to cut through all these words to a few, simple direct phrases. Oftentimes I feel our language limits us by providing so many options. We skirt around the words we want to say rather than use those direct, easily definable ones. Sometimes I’m asked a question an extremely personal one and I can’t answer. My eyes dart, I don’t want her to see my tears welling up. My voice stays silent; I can’t have my voice crack. Staying silent allows me to retain the idea in my mind that I’m macho, something that I’m definitely not via reality. Finally, once I answer and have my voice nearly crack from the emotional pressure I immediately go in for a hug and press my face against her shoulder. I love that hug. I love that person. They can’t see my tears rolling down my face. Better they feel them on their shoulder. After they hug back I know they understand, like they said ‘yes’ but with a physical confirmation. 

                “the romantic” makes me realize I’m not alone in feeling this way. Poncho cuts through all the circular speaking we employ in our day to day lives. Often this direct language can be extremely powerful, ungarnished by superfluous words. It can be difficult to read, harder to write. When writing it is hard to be honest with oneself but Poncho is perhaps one of the most honest writers I’ve read in quite some time. It’s a beautiful book.

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