Sobriety by Mica Valdez

When he was locked up
he hung with the Paisas

six months          without a drink
but he said sobriety begins today

the hunger there     wades in
a new absence, how to fill

water in a glass
steep peyote    drink     pass

let it out, let it all out
sweat       breathe     undo

absent fathers, overweight, over worked mothers
the welts     of priestly nun    secrecy

anxiety and American Pie
embedded in your psyche

trade for     Once We Were Warriors
bring it back     plant      some corn.


Click here for PDF. 



Contributor Notes

"When first encountering the work of Mica Valdez’s Love and the Lost Nation, one will take note that these poems rarely center themselves on the page. The white spaces invoking a sense of silence for what is lost and is left unspoken. Make no mistake though, this is not a quiet work. Much like poet Bob Kaufman’s vow of silence in the time of the Vietnam War, the silence found in this manuscript is one of protest.  Love and the Lost Nation is a story of the Native American people and of survival. This duality of existence of loss and celebration is a testament to the power of language. "  -Truong Tran


“Sobriety” is one poem from Valdez's epic love poem  Love and the Lost Nation. She is a professor at She is a professor at San Francisco State University and lives in Oakland, CA.