A colony of green papayas populate
A grove of the large leaf long-necks
That beg for water even if piped through
My water hose;
But one is surely the gay warrior, as
Yellow as the moon swimming amongst
Dark and green clouds;
Ready to fill our mouths with exotic pleasure;
What spell has fallen on the papaya loam
And made the earth fruits bloom?
My grandmother’s watering on a dusty
Hot, summer afternoon would
Signal a sudden gust of wind
As mild and breezy but fiercely
Embolden to push away the heat;
That magical touch that abuelita
Knew exactly the time of day
To sprinkle water on baked earth
And blessed our spirits and made us
Feel home in a small corner of paradise
That would soon fade away like memories
In a somber dream.
Along the Border
Train weaving along border memories of
my loteria and checkerboard life;
frames of family portraits fashioned
into a colorful quilt of sweet voices,
slight profiles, and happy, happy eyes
shining through our thoughts of
trepidation erected by border walls
setting us apart, away from each other
toward a reality that looms like a
head injury; a train wreck, no matter
where this train takes us the halt is
always erupt and deadening.
When we get off the train, when our
feet finally tread on steady ground,
you don’t know which side of the tracks
your heart lies.
Pieces of earth puzzled into
mosaic revelations of
gaps and stops;
the human stride hampered
by a matching duo of
transnational bridge and border wall;
for every bridge
there’s a wall and still,
the migration continues like
the ebb and flow of relentless
time and space, and
the rebirth and death of
day and night. Never stopping:
like a lake that cradles
the spewing brew, or
a river that collects cascading water,
or fresh sprouts of trees
fusing with fossilized stumps.
Humans’ undeterred spirits
run their gamut like water flowing,
roots reaching, and rivers
morphing into oceans,
deep, vast, and free.
Featherless flying beings we are,
embracing the essence
of our birthright.
The río bravo takes you across to safety
away from the clutches of jaws and jails;
The río floats you across into the arms
of the one that has loved you always;
The río saves you from the monster
that you dreamt about when you were five;
The río pulls you under until
your remains are deeply buried within;
The río haunts you in the darkest of
moments and shatters your dreams;
The río drives you mad
until your spirit dies with you;
The río turns you into a liar
and thief, a shell of what you used to be;
The río baptizes you and leaves you
naked when you think you know its eternal secrets;
Only the thick, mysterious fog can work its
powerful magic, dragging, stirring
its ghostly spirits, and unveiling the corpses
washed up on its shores;
The clouds, laden with sadness and anger,
open, and let the rain burst into tears;
Rain, rain, river rain.
Any other river like this
one would invite the locals
for a fun-filled picnic.
Instead, the Río Bravo looks desolate
Against the trappings of steel
posts, wired fencing, and
concrete military mesh.
Pedestrians on the Mexican side of the
bridge pour out into an open plaza,
darting toward waiting city buses.
The folk women, utterly
exhausted as they console their
children and grab on to bundles
of bulging plastic shopping bags,
bearing names of department
stores from the American side of the bridge.
When the border wall is erected
we won’t be able to see these
retail gobblers but who cares.
As long as the money keeps flowing;
globalism easily seeps through
A preponderant fact for
the countless that everyday dare to
cross into the land of promise and
the purgatory of uncertainty;
We hear stories that make your head spin
like the one of how pets
are treated with dignity unlike our brothers;
and the earnings, no matter how long
and hard the work, barely
enough to put food on their table.
At the Mexican side, a
welcome-home flag awaits
those who failed to cross, big enough for
the world to notice how it flies more
boldly, bigger, and proudly than
the American flag behind them.
Chameleon at the Border
I know home when I get there;
Like a chameleon I carve my footprints from the
Natural hue of mud and sand pit spoils of la frontera,
A border rich with countless of untold stories.
I see like the border; I taste like the border;
I feel like the border; the border is all
Around me – but, mostly the border is in their eyes, anchored
At the sight of a new world; so desperate
To leave that only the absence of memory lingers.
Water (The River of Life in a Desert of Hell)
Water droplet on scorched tongue,
like a fragile twig almost dead,
Too precious, too little, so wrong,
only a surreal existence lingers,
Fingers reaching for the empty
Plastic jug that feels like brittle
bones aching feet useless appendages
that burden every slight stride
Now slow and heavy;
life pleading with merciless sunrays
determined to kill;
Caged in an inferno of hell,
Let death be the victor,
Let death be the heaven that
brings peace, peace, peace;
And stops the agony.
Water for the thirsty, water for the dead.