From an Assignment

Here was the assignment: Untruth

Here's the poem I attempted, since some of you were curious (and some of you doubted whether I was honestly doing the assignments myself . . . you know who you are):


We were half baked in the filaments of light bulbs
and conveyors spitting potatoes past our hands
when Jose said the most bald-faced bullshit I’ve ever heard

starting with him taking the McGregor girl out
for a spin in a set of borrowed wheels with a bottle
filled with mash, the harshest the brewers in the canyon

ever dredged up, and he took this girl and this whiskey
and drove past the shift boss’s house, past the railroad
where the vagabonds wait to jump the next train,

past all those row houses along the farms near the back side
of town, where the old church judges all, and he took this girl
up the canyon to the bluff overlooking the city

and Jose leaned in real close while the tubers sped by,
telling me that the McGregor girl smelled like sampaguitas,
that her eyes could break men’s knees the way a mallet

strikes a spike, and that she was “familiar” with men, whiskey
and other worldly pursuits, and I wanted it to be
true as the potatoes in the factory were true, as the noise

crackling through our ears was real, and I wanted
the McGregor girl to be all freckle and corporeal
like my hands, reddened by the speed of work—I wanted

to believe that a few hours of rest could be spent
driving nowhere with a girl and a bottle, and how some roads
open into vistas and some roads lead the hell out of here,

that you could see the half-mile over the shacks in the valley,
standing next to a beauty who’s crazy about you or maybe
crazy about your danger, and that you could crack a smile or

laugh at youth and the shift boss’s stupid dog
somewhere away from the ball-bearing noise on a dusty,
wheat-colored road as far away as the truth.


I had a hard time chopping out prepositions. Making the poem one sentence was tough!

Oliver de la Paz