I was hoping to be happy by seventeen.
School was a sharp check mark in the roll book,
An obnoxious tuba playing at noon because our team
Was going to win at night. The teachers were
Too close to dying to understand. The hallways
Stank of poor grades and unwashed hair. Thus,
A friend and I sat watching the water on Saturday,
Neither of us talking much, just warming ourselves
By hurling large rocks at the dusty ground
And feeling awful because San Francisco was a postcard
On a bedroom wall. We wanted to go there,
Hitchhike under the last migrating birds
And be with people who knew more than three chords
On a guitar. We didn’t drink or smoke,
But our hair was shoulder length, wild when
The wind picked up and the shadows of
This loneliness gripped loose dirt. By bus or car,
By the sway of train over a long bridge,
We wanted to get out. The years froze
As we sat on the bank. Our eyes followed the water,
White-tipped but dark underneath, racing out of town.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Gary Soto's poem Saturday At The Canal


  1. Annette says:

    I loved loved loved this poem. We read it in class & it moved us!

  2. Isabel says:

    ugly poem

  3. Elaina Hittle says:

    Beautiful poem

  4. nancy says:

    i love ur poems n poetry idk how u writen so many but dat takes alot of time am writing these project about u n it counts my whole intire grade can u imagine dat well until know im getting 2 know u more thats cool huh?. bye always ur #1 fan nancy

  5. diana says:

    i love all poems! dad way dat gary soto writes it’s poetry is so nice! hope he keeps writing more stories n poetry!:)

  6. chanel says:

    og ur so cool idk how u do it its very hard to be a poet i could amgain so keep up the good work oh and ur hottttttttttt baby holla the number is 410 99876

  7. Brittany says:

    i loved the pop up that came up on the screen ! Push the fart button that was brilliant mate! oh by the way nice poem, Catie has a weird comment, go home

  8. Sonnet White says:

    This poem is so real. I live in a completly blan and boring town, is has hardly any character. I see the same faces everyday, and have the same conversations, it makes me want to go mad. I went to visit jacksonville florida recently, and seeing the big city, and all the different people, it was like a breath of fresh air to me. I want to scream somtimes just thinking of my life and how i feel as if its going nowhere. I want to break away, get in a car, and just drive, and drive, and drive, until i feel as if i have reached my calling. Your poem brought tears to my eyes, just knowing, if you this poor character in this story, has made a life, and interesting life with a child and wife, in sunny california, than mabey i, a reckless and lost 17 yr old, can find a life one day that will withhold my attention and dreams.
    please write back, you are a wonderful writer

  9. Cameron Parker says:

    Mr. Soto you are my hero, i want to make sweet love to you. Will you meet me? I will meet you anytime. I love you 🙂

  10. Perosn says:

    We had this in our comprehension part of our exam, the questions were really hard but I liked the poem

  11. Ashleigh Pacheco says:

    I really liked your poem, don’t listen to anybody who tells you different! I read your poem just for fun because in my English class at Palo Alto College we are studying about great poets…and I chose you. I can’t wait to read another one of your poems.
    *_* Ashleigh Pacheco

  12. catie faust says:

    i liked this poem alot .. i can relate to it ..

  13. Terry Wilson says:

    “Saturday at the Canal” real caught my attention as I was reading through “Imagining Worlds” by Margorie Ford and Jon Ford. I am many years out of high school, but still do remember the feelings of those days. Gary has a grasp on what the youth present, past and future experience on the thresh of adulthood. I will be analyzing his poem for a paper I have in “Performance Literature” a 300 college class.

    I would suggest proper spelling and grammar and no use of e-mail abbreviations, as not everyone knows what they mean. Some of the comments were not understandable because of this.

  14. C.R.Thompson says:

    I’m planning to use this poem with my seventh graders who are reading The Outsiders by SE Hinton. It has a similar tone and subject.

  15. L C Haywood says:

    What a lovely poem. “Kerry English” posted a rather idiotic comment stating, I suppose, that he thought your poem was a comment on education. How silly. The point of the poem is not a scathing review of any education system, but rather, a capturing of the desire by 17 year olds everywhere to escape, to expolore, and to break free.

  16. kerry english says:

    Dear Gary,
    I gave your poem to my daughter who is graduating high school in June. I thought it was a brilliant example of public education in Los Angeles and the feeling of the seniors in her class. Thanks for the expression and no thanks to the citizens of Los Angeles that do not fund education.

  17. Andrew Kontio says:

    i thought your poem was really great. i think you should iot pay attentiton to that other guy he is jusrt jelous

  18. juan spears says:

    i thought that your poem wqas kinda bad it made no sense and you should work haredr i thought that it was hoorible actually.

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