Poem “Portrait of a Wetback” in Copper Nickel

Portrait of a Wetback

You cross the viridian scum
of river—
                wispy-tongued. The sun

whisking your deepest marrow.

A walk to the horizon
                    with the bleakness
                on your shoulders:

            Mictlan,
                    place of the fleshless,
electric-wired fences.

            Helicopters circle and circle
above you like buzzards.

            The desert thirst?
                    A lit branch
in your throat.

                Jaguar, devourer
                of the sun.

You want to preserve this

in a jar of vinegar: the bright skull
                of the moon,

            the cloud white as a mistake.

When the guttural
                    desert song begins,

when the bats descend,

                Xolotl, dog-headed man, god
of fire,

                drags you through the ragged

hole of a wire fence.

Look, the gods wait for you

                on their haunches.

The lights flash white
                    and the sirens begin

as your brittle gaze
                            still skins the beauty

from this paradise.





Copper Nickel, No. 18, 2012

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