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(2 January 1952 / Santa Fe, New Mexico)

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V

Years pass.
Cattle cars in the downtown freightyard
squeal and groan, and sizzling grills
steam the Barelas Coffee House cafe windows,
as the railroad workers with tin hard hats
stop for coffee, hours of dawn
softly click on grandfather's gold pocket watches
in Louey's Broadway Pawnshop, hocked
to get a cousin or brother out of jail
City workers' tin carts and long-handled dust pans
clatter in curb gutters
as buses spew smoldering exhaust as they stop beneath
Walgreen's neon liquor sign.
I lean against an office building brick wall,
nothing to do, no where to go,
comb my hair in the blue tinted office windows,
see my reflection in the glinting chromed cars,
on a corner, beneath a smoking red traffic light,
I live-
blue beanie cap snug over my ears
down to my brow,
in wide bottomed jean pants trimmed with red braid,
I start my daily walk,
to the Old Town Post Office,
condemned Armijo school building,
Rio Grande playa,
ditches and underpasses-
de-tribalized Apache
entangled in the rusty barbwire of a society I do not understand,
Mejicano blood in me spattering like runoff water
from a roof canale, glistening over the lives
who lived before me, like rain over mounds of broken pottery,
each day backfills with brown dirt of my dreams.

I lived in the streets,
slept at friends' houses, spooned
pozole and wiped up the last frijoles with tortilla
from my plate. Each day
my hands hurt for something to have,
and a voice in me yearned to sing,
and my body wanted to shed the gray skin of streets,
like a snake that grew wings-
I wished I had had a chance to be a little boy,
and wished a girl had loved me,
and wished I had a family-but these
were silver inlaid pieces of another man's life,
whose destiny fountained over stones and ivy
of the courtyard in a fairytale.

Each night I could hear the silver whittling blade
of La Llorona,
carving a small child on the muddy river bottom,
like a little angel carved into ancient church doors.
On Fridays, Jesus Christ appeared
on La Vega road, mounted on a white charger,
his black robe flapping in the moonlight
as he thrashed through bosque brush.
Sometimes Wallei, the voice of water, sang to me,
and Mectallá, who lives in the fire, flew in the air,
and Cuzal, the Reader of Rocks, spoke with a voice
jagged as my street-fighting knuckles.

A voice in me soft as linen
unfolded on midnight air,
to wipe my loneliness away-the voice blew open
like a white handkerchief in the night
embroidered with red roses,
waving and waving from a dark window
at some lover who never returned.

I became a friend of the old women
who hung out by the bars
on Central,Isleta,and Barcelona,
blue tear drops tattooed on their cheeks,
initials of ex-lovers on their hands,
women drawn out from the dark piss-stinking rooms
they lived in,
by the powerful force of the moon,
whose yellow teeth tore the alfalfa out of their hearts,
and left them stubbled,
parched grounds old goats of tecatos and winos
nibbled.

All my life the constant sound of someone's bootheels
trail behind me-thin, hard,
sharp sounds scraping frozen ground,
like a shovel digging a grave,
It's my guardian, following me through the broken branches
of the bosque, to the door
of the Good Shepherd Home on south 2nd street,
for a hot meal.

Submitted: Monday, January 02, 2012


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