Old Man from Tlacochahuaya

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Old Man from Tlacochahuaya

His skin
is heavy and thick:
the leathery pelt
of a working animal.

His bare feet
poke from the scratchy
leather of rough-hewn,
home-made sandals
carved from auto tires.

His toenails are iron claws
gripping the earth:
a climber’s spikes.

When I examine them
they seem cut off from the man
as if they protruded
from a bestial hoof.

I imagine him horned,
tailed, and bearded,
leaping in a bright red
devil’s suit
through black smoke
and orange flames.

Water is the bond
that binds the earth’s poor,
so I offer him
water from my bottle.

Then I see him sparkle
and his eyes are as clear
as the water he drinks
from the bottle I gift him.

Brothers across
artificial frontiers
we shake hands,
and now we are one.

he is my friend,
my true amigo.

“Where are you going next?” I ask.

he shrugs.

“I am just happy to be here,
squatting in this line of shade
that protects me from the fierce
knife-blade of the sun.”

Obsidian’s Edge 15

3:00 pm

Old Woman




Sandpaper wind
polishing the land
erasing its identity
as barefoot
over dust and stone
the old woman
feasts her heart
on a banquet of song.

A rag-bag her body
stitched together
by memories and bone.



She shows me fear
in these grey shadows
dancing their dust
beneath carved rocks.



Abandoned now,
visited only by ghosts,
this resurrected ball park.
Buried beneath their stones
its heroes,
the men who wooed her.

I look at carved faces.

Which one captured
her flowering heart,
pierced it with an arrow,
and scarred her name
letter by letter
on the face of this rock

Obsidian’s Edge 14

2:45 pm

Old Woman




Dusty paths
meander beneath
a drifting sun.

Shiftless ruins
cloak the land
in worn-out
shadow rags.

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Scrawny cattle
herded by an old man
and his sly-eyed dogs:

the old woman,
stoops and picks up
a handful of stones.

Moving targets:
dust and shadows of dust.
So much stone and sand
sifted through the hand
and trodden underfoot.


In the distance,
a low mound
covered with grass and weeds:

her family’s ancestral home,
its bountiful community
abandoned to the wilderness,
to the wild thorn
thrusting its spear
through her mortal heart.

Weed-filled walls,
empty houses, ruined fields.


Wise old woman
with her hands full of stones:

that first rock
freed from her fist
booms thunder
off the sheep
in a  wolf-skin’s
cowardly frame.