Richard Garcia

Discussing humor in poetry is kind of like explaining a joke. It should not be necessary. Humor, however, has something to do with surprise. Some humor in poetry involves comic timing-the same kind of timing that a stand-up comic would employ. Humor has something to do with the imagination. It is hard to think of an imaginative artist whose work is humorless. I don't try to be funny. In fact, I don't always know there is humor in a poem until I read it to an audience. It surprises me too.                                                                                                             ________________________________________________________________________________________________



El Mecánico

I like to call myself El Mecánico, as in
This looks like a job for El Mecánico.
Or, if my wife asks, How did that window
get fixed? Answer: El Mecánico.

Never mind the feeling when I grasp a hammer–
as if someone has hit a ball to me, a high,
slow ball and I know there is no way
I will ever catch it. El Mecánico would catch it,
and not give it a second thought
as he goes back to fixing the sprinkler.

And then there’s Bruno.
Bruno slouching in a doorway,
Unshaven, food-stained sweat shirt.
Bruno does not need a tattoo.
Bruno does not need an earring.
Bruno does not need to shave his head.
Bruno does not need El Mecánico
Besides, he doesn’t like foreigners.

Hon, my wife says, you don’t really need
a bodyguard anymore. She says, I hate it
when I reach up to get something on the shelf
and without fail, there is Bruno grabbing my ass.
Sometimes I think I’m talking to you
and you turn around and it’s not you at all.

Speaking of asses, she doesn’t care
that Bruno has saved mine many times.
So he hangs around even though
there’s nothing for him to do. He’s like
an after-party guest you can’t bring yourself
to ask to leave. Where would he go?
Maybe he could be on call, just like El Mecánico?

Bruno plays solitaire. Bruno in his
wife-beater, with his shoulder holster, still packing.
Bruno, I would say, please accept this Rolex
and lifetime subscription to Hustler
as a token of all the time we’ve spent together.
As you sail into the sunset in the sunset years
of your golden…

My wife has been asking after El Mecánico.
She even bought him a leather tool belt.
I know—l am El Mecánico.
Even so, I can’t help it, I have my suspicions.
I don’t know about this El Mecánico.
Neither does Bruno.



The Flower Lover (Paperback)

The Flower Lover follows journalist Richard Garcia
as he investigates the disappearance of a rare orchid.

We see him sitting in his office at the Seattle Reporter.
Pencil in hand, he stares at a plaster rosette on the ceiling.

Lost in the hand-held fuzziness of memory,
he bends over a bed of small blue flowers.

Their petals vibrate like hummingbird wings.
Now they are tiny blue flames and Garcia

is floating above them as if he were in a Chagall.
Back to work: What does a stolen rare orchid

have in common with the death of a Russian gangster?
Garcia’s queries lead him to uncover a clandestine group

that is selling munitions and stolen Soviet plutonium.
Garcia wandering around inside a lucid dream.

It’s a parking lot but he prefers something in the open
so he switches to a path in the arboretum.

From under the fake boulder he retrieves an envelope.
It’s from his main source of information, a reclusive poet

also known as Richard Garcia. It is a photograph
of the rare stolen orchid on a marble desk and the address

of a business park owned by a millionaire industrialist.
There is also a note in the poet’s usual cryptic style:

Italy, a blue bottle. Blue Monk, Janet Reno.
A bouquet of irises, the last of the Lupinos.

The Flower Lover features a bicycle chase
through the streets of Seattle, overturned

fruit carts, a maze of empty Skye Vodka bottles,
a fruit vendor shaking his fist, scurrying passersby,

and a sea kayak get-away through Rosario Straits.
The Flower Lover, four stars, seven customer reviews.

Like, Awesome, Actually

Hitchhiking, I felt suddenly naked, you know?
As if the sum of my life was all, like,
See you later. But I’m not sure…uh,
maybe more like my clothes had actually
blown away, even my underwear. Bottom line—
caught in the back-draft of awesome.

Know what I’m saying? Awesome!
In the darkness, a semi’s rear lights, you know?
Reminded me of a skull. Bottom line,
I was afraid of something, like
a distant procession of torches actually
was crossing a bridge in hell, uh—

as if I were a detail in Hieronymus Bosch. Uh-
huh, that’s right. Hitching is awesome.
Like a long take in a road-movie that actually
is the story of your life, or no,
just a life that is so much like
yours that it is yours, and the white line

down the highway is the time-line
of your fever, as if you had no skin, uh,
uh, like flayed, so that even air hurts. It was like
my life could be summed up in an awesome
unfinished paint-by-numbers, you know,
like a painting found at a garage sale actually.

I began to construct a palace in my mind, not actually,
but some place where I could wander, sticking line-
by-line each pathetic memory, what little I know,
in columns and compartments, alcoves, uh,
or maybe a general store or a tower, all awesome
like a damn castle. I was standing all, like,

Duh, where am I, not paying attention, like
I wanted to get run over, when suddenly this Ferrari actually
stopped for me and there was this babe, awesome,
I mean totally Salma Hayek—bottom line:
goddess. Where ya going honey? she asked. I said uh…
and forgot, like, so then I said, I don’t know.

It’s like, I blew it, she drove off, that’s the bottom line.
Like a fool actually, I just stood there, all still…uh,
feeling awe. Some joy mixed with sad, mostly sad, you know?




The Case of the Disappearing Blondes

Blondes are disappearing from the world. Just yesterday, one sat cross-legged on my desk looking all blonde and dangerous. She was staring at her nails, which were painted deep blue. She seemed just about to speak when she disappeared, leaving her fox stole behind, its little glass eyes staring up at me.

My red-headed wife confesses, she’s a blonde. And her name is not really Katherine, but Linda. That’s OK, I never knew my first wife’s real name until I was walking out the door with my golf clubs slung over my shoulder, while the cabdriver, claiming the right of salvage, gathered my neckties from the front lawn.

In a country where there are no blondes, even fake blondes can make big trouble. My wife, looking over my shoulder as I write this, says You’ve never had a lawn, you don’t golf and you don’t even know how to tie a necktie. Go color your roots, I say, the blonde is showing through.

The government of Sweden has convened an emergency session. Icelandic police are gathering up Icelandic blondes and taking them to an undisclosed location. Back at the office I lean back in my chair. I wonder why it’s only blonde women who are disappearing. I open up the newspaper: no more blondes in Minnesota.

I look through the files in my computer. Blondes are disappearing from my poems: the one who had tried to poison me with developer fluid; the one I ran over with a motorcycle; the one who was last seen in the Amazon jungle smearing mud on her body that contained flecks of gold; the one who tempted me to follow her out into the rain when I was in bed with the flu.

Just then my wife, roots freshly dyed copper red, strides into my office. She sits on my desk as if she owns the place. Stares at her cobalt nails.


Must Have

Attractive female roommate wanted.
A Southern accent would be appealing.
She could be fifty-one, but still get carded.

Good at maps, always knows where we’re headed.
Must have experience washing and ironing.
Attractive female roommate wanted.

Her rhubarb pie should be heavenly scented.
Should be quick to dress, not too much preening.
She could be fifty-one, but still get carded.

Must like being tied, gagged, bound and carried
down a stairway—scratch that—only kidding.
Attractive female roommate wanted.

Must like living in a single room that’s rented.
Optional: fluency in Spanish, French and Romany.
She could be fifty-one, but still get carded.


Richard Garcia is the author of The Persistence of Objects, BOA Editions. His poems have recently appeared in The Georgia Review, Crazyhorse and Ploughshares. He is the recipient of a Pushcart prize, and has a poem in Best American Poetry 2005. Richard's website is