Juan Felipe Herrera
El ángel de la guarda
(The Guardian Angel)
My word against theirs, my sickle humor
against their last glass of chianti. Simple,
Direct and compassionatein a way, let us say,
it is in my nature to be generous: to remind
the passengers about the last stop in Anguish-
town, to spell integration with an X, to scrub
the word Prison with sneaky vastness inside.
It is my own penchant for skull symphonies
my embossed headdress, especially, that brings
me to your carpeted doom-time; this flowery intro
serves a purpose; every spirit strand is an exit,
a cash & carry star of exits and entrances.
I should have visited more often.
I should have taken the sour pudding they offered.
I should have danced that lousy beggar shuffle.
I should have painted their rooms in a brighter color.
I should have put a window in there, for the daughters.
I should have provided a decent mountain for a view.
I should have nudged them a little closer to the sky.
I should have guessed they would never come out to wave.
I should have cleaned up that mole, the abyss, in the back.
I should have touched them, that's it, it comes to me now.
I should have touched them.
from Lotería Cards and Fortune Poems: A Book of Lives
Linocuts by Artemil Rodrígues
City Lights, 1999
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