Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Healing Earthquakes

A Love Story in Poems

by Jimmy Santiago Baca

“Jimmy Santiago Baca is a force in American poetry. Now, with Healing Earthquakes, he has accomplished its grand result in a book of brilliant passion. His words heal, inspire, and elicit the earthy response of love.” —Garrett Hongo

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 352
  • Publication Date July 18, 2001
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3814-9
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $15.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date December 01, 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-9854-9
  • US List Price $15.00

About The Book

Combining a stunning lyrical intensity with a profound exploration of the human soul, Healing Earthquakes uses poetry to conjure a romance, from beginning to end. Jimmy Santiago Baca introduces us to a man and woman before they are acquainted, and re-creates their first meeting, falling in love, their decision to make a family, the eventual realization of each other’s irreconcilable faults, the resulting conflicts, the breakup and hostility, and, finally, their transcendence of the bitterness and resentment. Throughout the relationship we are privy to the couple’s astonishing range of emotions: the anguish of loneliness, the heady rush of new love, the irritation and joys of raising children, the difficulties in truly knowing someone, and the doldrums of breakup. It is impossible not to identify with these characters and to recognize one’s own experience in theirs. This is an extraordinary work from one of our finest poets.

Praise

“[Baca] writes with unconcealed passion . . . but he is far from being a na’ve realist; what makes his writing so exciting to me is the way in which it manifests both an intense lyricism and that transformative vision which perceives the mythic and archetypal significance of life-events.” —Denise Levertov

“An extrodinary work from one of our finest poets. . . . Combining a stunning lyrical intensity with a profound exploration of the human soul, Healing Earthquakes uses poetry to conjure a romance, from beginning to end.” —Delmarva Farmer

“Jimmy Santiago Baca is a force in American poetry. Now, with Healing Earthquakes, he has accomplished its grand result in a book of brilliant passion. His words heal, inspire, and elicit the earthy response of love.” —Garrett Hongo

Awards

Phi Beta Kappa Poetry Award Finalist

Excerpt

With this letter I received from a young Chicano
doing time in New Boston, Texas,
I’m reminded of the beauty of bars
and how my soul squeezed through them
like blue cornmeal through a sifting screen
to mix with the heat and moisture of the day
in each leaf and sun ray
offering myself
to life like bread.

He tells me he reads a lot of books and wants my advice and more amazed
he quotes from my books, honoring my words
as words that released him from the bars,
the darkness, the violence of prison.

It makes me wonder,
getting down on myself as I usually do,
that maybe I’m not the pain in the butt
I sometimes think I am.

I used to party a lot, but now I study landscapes and wonder a lot,
listen to people and wonder a lot,
take a sip of good wine and wonder more,
until my wondering has filled five or six years
and literary critics and fans
and fellow writers ask
why haven’t you written anything in six years?

And I wonder about that—
I don’t reveal to them
that I have boxes of unpublished poems and that I rise at six-thirty each morning
and read books, jot down notes,
compose a poem,
throwing what I’ve written or wondered
on notepads in a stack in a box
in a closet.

Filled with wonder at the life I’m living,
distracted by presidential impeachment hearings
and dick-sucking interns and Iraq bombings,

my attention is caught by the kid
without a T-shirt in winter
on the courts who can shoot threes and never miss,
by a woman who called me the other night
threatening to cut her wrists because she was in love
and didn’t want to be in love,

by the crackhead collecting cans at dawn along the freeway.
Sore-hearted at the end of each day,
wondering how to pay bills,
thinking how I’ll write a poem
to orphans for Christmas
and tell them that’s their present
and watch them screw up their faces—
saying, huh,
wondering what kind of wondering fool
I’ve become
that even during Christmas I’m wondering …
caught in the magical wonder
of angels on Christmas trees
colored lightbulbs all of it making me remember the awe and innocence
of my own childhood,
when Santa came with a red bag
to the orphanage
and gave us stockings
bulging with fruit and nuts.

It was a time of innocence, gods walking around my bunk
at night,
divine guardians whispering at my ear
how they’d take care of me—
and they did. armies of angels have attended me
in rebellious travels,
and the only thing that’s changed since then
is instead of me waiting for Santa,
I’m like an ornery pit bull leashed to a neck chain
aching to bite the ass of an 1RS agent
wondering why anyone in their right mind would,
with only one life to live, have a job making people so miserable.
It’s something to wonder about.