In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes
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 qué 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.
Bugs 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.
Self-Portrait with Tumbling and Lasso
I'm drumroll and voyeur.
and fable. I'm weaving
of a wolf through my hair
like ribbon. At my feet,
and jigsaws. I'm
an autopsy on my shadow.
My rib cage a wall.
a crack in a wall,
a foothold. I'm tumbling
a French acrobat. I'm judder
and splendid. I'm spinning
on a spit, split
in my mouth. I know
didn't know: a serpent
is a fruit eaten to the core. I'm
of the dreamers,
a terra cotta soldier
his emperor's return.
When I bow,
a black fish leaps
from the small of my back.
I catch it.
I tear it apart. I fix
to my lips.
Every word I utter
is opalescent. I'm skinned
and threshold. At my touch,
melts like a slab
of black ice. I'm
dissipating. I'm a ghost undressing.
I'm a cowboy
My soul is
above my head like a lasso.
My right hand a pistol.
automatic. I'm knocking
on every door.
I'm coming on strong,
like a missionary.
I'm kicking back
my legs, like a mule. I'm kicking up
my legs, like
Eduardo C. Corral
Yale University Press
Copyright © 2012 by Yale University
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission