Jimmy Santiago Baca

(2 January 1952 / Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Llano Vaqueros


Padilla unloads mangy herd of Mexican
cattle in the field.
Meaner, horns long and sharp
for bloody battle, lean from a diet
of prairie weed, looking more
like cattle did years ago
on the plains
than cattle now–
sluggish, pampered globs
stalled year round
for State Fair Judges to admire,
stall-salon dolls, hooves manicured
and polished, hide-hair blow-dried, lips
and lashes waxed.
I ride down the dirt road
on Sunshine (my bay mare)
and she smarts
away from their disdainful glare–
come in, try to lasso us,
try to comb our hair.
I admire my ancestors, llano vaqueros,
who flicked a home-made cigarette in dust,
spit in scuffed gloves, grabbed one
by the horns, wrestled it down,
branded it, with the same pleasure
they enjoyed in a bunk-house brawl.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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