Will work for Poetry.
Sunburned and sore I drove to work this morning after working outside all weekend. Traffic was terrible and it took me over an hour to drive 13 miles. This is very frustrating and I’ve not gotten used to spending so much time in my truck. I feel like it’s a huge waste of my time. I could certainly use those 8 or 9 hours doing things around the house, reading or well… just about anything.
At this point I’d rather be at home than be anywhere else. Especially stuck in traffic.
This weekend the April edition of “Poetry” came in and I read it front to back each month to find those one or two really good poems. 95% of the work in Poetry is crap and this is the fault of Christian Wiman, the editor, who should know better. He writes well and is commonly the “country folk” rep in The New Yorker type magazines. Anyhow, it was only 10 pages into this month’s issue that I came across the poem below. After reading it, I thought driving 13 miles an hour or less each way to work isn’t so bad, compared to this.
In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes
by Eduardo C. Corral
in a Tex-Mex restaurant. His co-workers
unable to utter his name, renamed him Jalapeño.
If I ask for a goldfish, he spits a glob of phlegm
into a jar of water. The silver letters
on his black belt spell Sangrón. Once, borracho,
at dinner, he said: Jesus wasn’t a snowman.
Arriba Durango. Arriba Orizaba. Packed
into a car trunk, he was smuggled into the States.
Frijolero. Greaser. In Tucson he branded
cattle. He slept in a stable. The horse blankets
oddly fragrant: wood smoke, lilac. He’s an illegal.
I’m an Illegal-American. Once, in a grove
of saguaro, at dusk, I slept next to him. I woke
with his thumb in my mouth. ¿No que no
tronabas, pistolita? He learned English
by listening to the radio. The first four words
he memorized: In God We Trust. The fifth:
Percolate. Again and again I borrow his clothes.
He calls me Scarecrow. In Oregon he picked apples.
Braeburn. Jonagold. Cameo. Nightly,
to entertain his cuates, around a campfire,
He strummed a guitarra, sang corridos. Arriba
Durango. Arriba Orizaba. Packed into
A car trunk, he was smuggled into the States.
Greaser. Beaner. Once, borracho, at breakfast,
He said: The heart can only be broken
once, like a window. ¡No mames! His favorite
belt buckle: an águila perched on a nopal.
If he laughs out loud, his hands tremble.
Bug Bunny wants to deport him. César Chávez
wants to deport him. When I walk through
the desert, I wear his shirt. The gaze of the moon
stitches the buttons of his shirt to my skin.
The snake hisses. The snake is torn.