Tuesday, February 23, 2010


She shares a room
with eight strangers.
None of them know
where to buy money grams.

Her face flushes
at the grocery store,
but she still looks straight
into my eyes and asks:
Can I walk there?
Which way is it?

Jobs are scarce,
so he eats what he finds
in dumpsters near
the house, squats on a vacant
lot that floods in autumn. 
He doesn’t say it,
but he’s scared of fever.
Knows that if he dies,
back home, Juan will stop by
the bar and flick quarters
in the jukebox.
Jose will tell dirty jokes
at his wake until four
in the morning, while Pedro
recounts the story
of the irate husband
shooting at his naked butt
flying over the fence.
But here, he doesn’t have
a name, he’s constantly
cold and unnoticed.

She makes it difficult
to ignore the wet clothes
on a man’s back
as he wanders into la migra’s
office for a 24-hour stay,
or a free jet ride home.

She’s too alarmed to remember
the two daughters left behind.

Umbrellas keep her in the shade
while officers bring tamarind flavored
snowballs to douse her dehydration.

They wick the sweat off her breast,
keep her armpits from staining,
stinking the robe.

Tomorrow she’ll rattle all this away
like cows shake off flies.

© Sergio A. Ortiz 10/19/09

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