Poem: Instructions

Poem: Instructions

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Edward Vidaurre’s “Instructions” reminds us of the games we play with our minds to get through hard times, laddering down — then conjuring amends — to calm our own restlessness. His jazzy rhythms and colloquial narratives take us deeper into neighborhoods and familiar rooms as they blur boundaries between what might be and what really is. Vidaurre, an El Salvadoran-Californian transplanted to the Texas borderlands, writes poems that are loving evocations of mystery and memory, waking up the heart and rallying hope. Here, he embraces the grace of childhood’s firmer knowing. Selected by Naomi Shihab Nye

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By Edward Vidaurre

Cortázar gave me instructions
on how to beat insomnia, on the first night…

read to the moon for 10 minutes,
read to a cat for 9,
the dog 8,
a child 7,
a stranger 6,
a doll 5,
a painting 4,
a book 3,
my feet 2,
my hands 1,

and if I’m still awake, write to each, a letter of
apology.


Naomi Shihab Nye is the 2019-21 Young People’s Poet Laureate of the Poetry Foundation, Chicago. Edward Vidaurre is the 2018-19 Poet Laureate of McAllen, Tex. “JAZzHOUSE,” published by Prickly Pear Publishing, is his sixth book of poetry.

Illustration by R.O. Blechman

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