Thursday, April 02, 2015

Anywhere but There

I shared a room
with two brothers -
a bed with one of them
until I was 16-
so I learned not to expect
too much privacy.

My earliest memories
were sitting with my brothers
on the couch that my father
reupholstered himself,
because he could reupholster
and partly
because we
couldn't afford new furniture)
watching Warner Brothers cartoons,
memorizing the voices
and the jokes,
on the color TV
that occasionally died
and my father would
resurrect with his vast
collection of glass vacuum tubes
he kept in a shoe box,
because he knew how
and because
we couldn't afford
a new TV.  

The kitchen
had a breakfast nook
upholstered in pleather
(again, my father)
that made our thighs
stick as we slid in
wearing shorts
on hot summer days,
and my mom would concoct
things that only now
I have the words
to describe:
her go-to meal was collect
all the leftovers
and throw them in a skillet,
bind them all together
with egg
and serve it up in a tortilla.

My favorite place,
my only sanctuary,
was the spot on the floor
in front of the "stereo"
where I would
plug in my Pop's
gray and black
plastic headphones
and listen to the FM radio,
or albums I borrowed
from the library,

and I would
escape from my world
of patched-up furniture,
hand-me-down clothes
leftover recipes
and my unspoken
Mexican inferiority complex

and I would dream
I was in a New York high rise,
or a Los Angeles bachelor pad,
or a Chicago recording studio,
anywhere but there.

Decades later,
I still consider it


  1. It seems like we spend the first half of our lives trying to escape our humble roots and the second half learning to appreciate them.

    This is a very special poem in its invocation of time and place and person.

  2. This is so genuine, so authentic. I had those same headphones, I think! I just love this, Mosk.

  3. I love this so much! I can see it, I feel like I've been there and know the child-you.
    Now I have a loveseat that needs reupholstering... but I do not have the skills! Nor the money for new. Sigh.
    I think a lot about how I sat in a particular chair and listen to records on my dad's stereo, reading along with the words on the sleeve, taking it all in.
    Love this poem.

  4. Anonymous9:56 AM

    I love the patched-up furniture and hand-me-downs...more now than when we needed them, right?

  5. Anonymous10:32 AM

    We never appreciate what we have till it is gone. I love your poem and your family.

  6. How I love this! Smiled all the way through - the pleather sticking to your thighs on hot summer days (car seats were like that too! Ouch!), the tv, the headphones and, mainly, especially, the dreams of being anywhere but there. Yet "there" is now what shines so golden in memory. Loved. This. Poem. Thank you for taking me back (in my case, a long way back to prehistoric times Before TV even, LOL. Listening to the radio was my biggie when I was small. We got a small black and white TV when I was nine. Magic!)

  7. Goodness...this is just so vivid and genuine and I happened to catch Kerry's comment and agree with her as well. Excellent, Buddah!

  8. wonderful write, home just seem to follow us in adult life, its like that sometimes; have a creative month

    much love...

  9. Oh, YES! The comments have already say it all. An excellent capture of the time period & place, Buddah, and the ending?

    "...anywhere but there.

    Decades later,
    I still consider it


  10. You took me back to sticking and peeling one's legs off chairs and Looney Tunes-there is magic in those moments. We just don't see it until later-I love this poem!

  11. I'm right there with you, though no brothers, not Mexican ... so maybe not exactly the same but, what was my point? Oh, yeah - I can (almost) totally relate.

  12. Music took me to many places when I needed to escape the four rooms of discontent that housed me.

  13. In my house, it was my mom that was the handy one. She upholstered our living room furniture. We also had some chairs for the kitchen table that were covered in vinyl, that weren't Alabama summer friendly.

    I like how relatable this poem is. I think one of the (many) things I like about your poetry is that is feels like the speaker in the poem is talking specifically to me.

  14. I listened to The Wall on repeat, wearing those headphones ~

  15. I see the boy, bobbing his head at the beat of the music coming out of the radio... and hoping.