Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

Walking Oaxaca

Friday, January 15th, 2016





Crowned pig on a talavera tile,
one solo puerco insignia
set in the stone church stairs…

why? what?

on the steps where
two puppy bulldogs attract girls
to the boy sitting,
whose corn on a stick pops, bitten,
’til its honeycomb’s dry.

Church doors of slabbed wood,
long hanging slices of carne separating.
Four hundred years of drying
on iron pins…for someone’s carnality,
and still the church pigeons pass scat.

Look: an iron ring in a colossal stone,
fat as a fed snake,
it fastens some supreme possession…

but, I ask: who forged in the heat?
who hammered it-in to no applause, chingon,
and who ordered it placed?

Crowds step around it and,
on the street, the spindly trees,
when this racket:

someone set loose from loosely piled cages
what won’t be captured twice:
an outraged macaw
pursuing its native fruit.





Monsoon Migration

Sunday, September 14th, 2014


The desert during monsoon is greener,
like wetback hope,
how it overcomes acacia thorns
and trails through nettle,
how migrant feet outrun flash floods
through mosquito canyons,
how their ankles roll on rocks
and jump back up…
like cool tears pour from blisters.

Monsoon green shades resident quail,
quail and timorous rabbit.
Its blooming calls through corridors
and borders—
to orange butterflies, purple birds,
to people who follow on foot:
Mesoamerica in motion,
leaving to live.

When desert ocotillo forests yellow
and harvest moons ripen over orchards,
armies of ladders lean against trees,
waiting, chink-chinking change,
bells calling migrants again
through borders.

Irritable autumn wasps graze
on the affordable harvest–
a larceny in every meal,
a theft of hidden labor,
around so many heavy Northern tables.







Border Hens

Friday, November 22nd, 2013






From a detention center,
hens escape,
courage fortified by maize
smuggled in by their daughters.

With loaded patrols all along the border,
daughters who run with babies
raise courage
in their mothers.

The jailbroke hens
toe the countryside with care,
walk the gusty sand
and frozen mud.

Some then are led by seed
to the roosters’ cornrows,
or by pennies to Northern orchards.

When hens outfox loaded borders,
it’s henmigration.
They piece together homes,
full to overflowing…
nearly free.




Friday, June 3rd, 2011



For the Mexican poet, Javier Sicilia, on his March for Peace and Justice
following the assassination of his son. And for the healing of Casa Mexico.


The poet leads the demonstration,
silently, on his feet.

Three days they walked together
in a solitude of hundreds,
who gave words between shudders
– ni uno mas-of grief.

From the high green mountains
to the valley of volcanoes
hundreds became millions walking,
walking as pilgrims in a labyrinth
through Mexico’s streets.

There, in the great plaza,
the poet opened his voice to Casa Mexico
as a father at bedtime prayers
with his only child.

His rosary dangled on his chest.
So much weight, so much on a string of beads.
A heart placed in its crux hears and holds,
with room for our crimes, our petty altruisms
and our interims of beauty.

The poet walks.
Several million are walking,
and with our footsteps, words sway,
as our pendulum over the earth:
– paz y justica con dignidad,
Peace and Justice with Dignity.


[Translations: ni uno mas: not one more.
paz, justica y dignidad: peace, justice and dignity.]

Border Town

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

For the children of Juarez


The barrio radio
pitches hilarity at our windows,
with clumps of baritone, the news.

We try to untwist
from our sheets of sleep.
The day, already binding.

Outside, the bougainvillea
are magenta fountains,
bolder than we in daylight
and bolder at scaling walls.

Our kitchen table stands
still warm from our breakfast bowls,
and Mama’s on the long ride
to a factory on the outskirts.

Until night, when the lightbulb
shivers on its wire
over the shhhh…tunk of Mama’s ironing
on tomorrow’s school uniforms.

But we want what her factory makes.
And we do not want to die trying.

Javier died not trying anything.
Without and empty, only walking
where came sudden guns.

Hear? Until he died trying,
Jaime got cash for meth
by the arroyo that disappeared Maria,
and you didn’t hear.

Sundays, the church pews slump,
old backs of prayer horses,
and we taste bitter copal
with body and blood.

The supper table stands
on loose legs, with cold places
at vacant chairs.

Don’t let it be.

Don’t let the bougainvillea drop
to piles of sepia,
fragile and faded…

like we are already gone.




Border Patrol

Saturday, May 8th, 2010


I thought my North Side streets too quiet,
that seeds freed from branches by a night rain
would be swept and discarded first thing,
the scents of weekend breakfasts, bacon especially,
cleared from apartment corridors by ten a.m.

Hiding in our alley, a franchise
of illicit pain and its transient remedies.
We make order, shielding our eyes,
as if we could live behind border fences
where righteous dogs sniff-out the drugs and the desperate
but not the trail of money.

So I thought my own streets too quiet,
the buildings too anchored on their grids of sidewalk hours.
And me, with my heart skipping rules,
I got up, took a drive to the other side of town,
to the barrio where sidewalks are uneven.

To where roasting chiles release their smoke
over us, like the wings of angels.


The Weight of Ashes

Ashes are lighter

than Colombian drugs and
the captives in trafficking…
that weigh on Juarez

the viscosity of blood and
the volume of tears…
that weigh on Juarez

Ashes are lighter

than Chicago’s shadow commerce
the gangs on fifty-first floors working…
the exquisite sacrifice of Juarez

Only ashes are lighter

than the conscience of a boss
the sleep of his women too…
who hears the grinding of teeth in Juarez?

Ashes fly after

the children of campesinos
their eyes the night in hidden lakes…
that see the immolation of Juarez

Ashes gather

and these we cannot afford
for our smoke at leisure tonight…
not in New York, nor Dallas nor Chicago

Heavy, the ashes on our hands.


Campesino: subsistence  farmer

Thinking of Charles Bowden in Mexico City

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010



So you aim a foregone conclusion,
the extinction of our species,
right between our eyes.

Maybe the last mammoth died
with uptown flowers in its belly,
blinking at the the glass towers of Polanco,
of Dallas.

Even now, the people of this city
scramble through traffic
fleeing chain link curtains of  lightning.

The obedient and faithful,
do they have it better,
with all their hope aimed at heaven?
Their eyes on the Lord’s table,
they let this world drip
from their dumb and delicate fingertips.

We know– there is not enough water
to wash us away again.
We toss pail after pail
across the crumpled pavement each morning,
but not one street will be clean by noon.

All night work abrades rest
from the bodies of scrubbers
while the polished world of uptown glints
and a world of trade agreements are inked
in the tincture of peasant bruises.

I’m leaving Mexico at night,
unbelieving, charged with love and fright
for a country, for a city
sparkling below, for now,
like a fine beaded bag in the lamplight.