List Poem by Joe Somoza

In poetry class, we’re working on list poems this week. One way to do it is to sketch your surroundings–in detail. Poet Joseph Somoza has for many years used his backyard in Las Cruces as if it were Paris–that is, as his muse.

The Clouds

It’s New Year’s again.
I wonder what Frank O’Hara’s
thinking. The clouds
are roiling to the north,
difficult to tell
what they’ll be bringing.
Under the clouds,
it’s just us chickens
among the houses and streets
leading to the desert that seems
empty wilderness—if you’re
from the city, and brought only
dancing shoes along.
Because nothing
can be empty that’s so
full of itself—such as Orlando,
moving thickly in winter fur
across the yard
to nap under a yucca.
A siren up Missouri Avenue
diminishes and disappears.
Someone’s dying or getting
born, going
or coming.
The clouds might know.