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Voices and Verses

National Poetry Month: “Poet’s Sutra” By Gerald Cedillo

The Houston poet describes why writing poetry is like fencing.


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Hannah Bonner
On poets: “They’re great swordsmen.” – Gerald Cedillo

In this sound portrait, Gerald Cedillo talks about what poetry means to him and how even a bumper sticker can inspire a poem, and he reads "Poet's Sutra."

A poet and literary event organizer, Gerald Cedillo attended the University of St. Thomas and studied Creative Writing at the University of Houston. He has taught theater, performance poetry and writing. He has served on the board of Houston’s week-long poetry festival, The Word Around Town, and is a part of the writing group, The Balcony Poets.


Poet's Sutra

Outside a Union-Pacific locomotive
of poets, I dream a jump-cut sequence
compressed and stored from old Westerns:
an overhead shot
of bandits ride in an explosion of dust,
projected over their piston saddles,
afraid the horses' legs might
break to keep up with the steam engine.
A glove reaches for the rail, drops the reins
and leaps, kicking off the horse's neck.

With bullets between my feet,
kerchiefed men shout "dance, boy, dance."
This body moves like a rattlesnake
and not as if life depended on it, but love–
In the name of the love that sits and waits
for you to approach it, what brings your velocity
toward us tonight? Not this one-sided waltz,
this confusion between attacker and target.
My hands are shantytowns in the air,
emptied shantytowns.

How delightful a torment
settled by who moves quickest first. Evening
like a swarm of irascible insects in the tall grass,
the way we buy and sell beauty, bartering
in its unlimited re-coining, its unended song.
Take it. Thieve whatever unsnuffed peace you find.
Reader, I only ask what all folk ask
of their conquerors, as all the instincts
stuck inside me sputter their entire history
of overtaken muscle: mercy, mercy, mercy.


This poem is reprinted with permission by the author.

To learn more about this series, go here.

Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Senior Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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