Thursday, October 22, 2015

Crescent Moon on a Cat’s Collar by Juan Felipe Herrera

Crescent Moon on a Cat’s Collar

I come from a family of madmen and extravagant women.

My uncle, back in '26
wrote to the president of Mexico.

He accused him of murdering the potato eaters
by the millions.

So, they set him up for life
in a Goddamn Army hospital mental ward.
Another uncle

Xavier Levario got in with big business
making toys out of wood. I could have gone to France,
that’s where the art was, he said. But I joined everybody
in the States.

Armanda, my aunt whose hair has always looked like
gold dust,
a fleece,

owned the only swimming pool in the heart of Mexico City
near la Calle Uruguay. 

My father drove a pink Ford down the main drag in Tijuana.
All the women loved him, no one has ever smiled sweeter.

My pocket is full of ancient coins.
I keep a silver box of African and Zapotec amulets and hair
near my bed, a tarnished sword and acrylics.

Lightning zig-zags like a dog’s tail
everytime I throw a stone in Southern Arizona.

I have fallen in wells and risen.
All my enemies, including the governors and the wardens,
keep away from my eyes and especially

from the rhythms swelling up through my feet and out
of the opal triumph of my voice   

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