Albino Carrillo

After "Joaquin"

                  for Rudolfo " Corky" Gonzales

 

Trapped in the morning twilight
Just before sunrise-I begin
My day thinking how
My ancestors brought me
Out here to live past
The great millennium
Along the Miami River. Yes,
There was a time I lived
In the desert with my brother,
And I walked old roads to get to the drug store-
I smoked Marlboro 100's, I wore the cowboy boots
And Wranglers my mother
Bought for us at Trade Mart.
The next year, I joined the gringos
For a while and dated scientists'
Daughters even as I drove
My old troca to the elementary
School where summers I cut
Weeds, washed walls and toilets
To get extra money. You'd think
This was the truth, Joaquin-

That in your time or mine
A man could only make a living
With his back. All the guys
I worked with were Mexicans
Like me. I'd switched to Viceroy
Kings and liked to drive late
At night up into the mountains
To ignite my dreams. My days of hauling trash cans ended-
I never had a job inside,
Working retail or sitting easy at the pool. So Joaquin,
Aztec prince, Spanish horseman,
I went to college with my janitor's
Money. The first semester
I read Marx I read Fanon.

I saw the comings and goings of my kind, my tribe
And they have mostly forgotten
You. Or if they did remember
Your glorious past, it was only
Because some of your words
Survived as graffiti in old
Stacks of paper my father kept.
Out here in the great, blonde Midwest,
I became war-loving Huitzilopochtli and could only
Choke back tears when I felt
Alone. Out here on the edge
Of the great empire, I live with my
Coyote children and know how you felt
Finding another part of yourself of myself
That was mezclada, like
My dark-skinned daughter
And deer-eyed son
Who I have given a Mexican name
To carry into his life in America. This morning

I saw the masons
Putting in stone and pouring
Sidewalks where I work-
Some of the men,
From Defe or Puebla,
Listened to Banda on an old
Radio. Joaquin, until I see the big picture,
I insist on your demanding
Presence in every orchard I sit in, every luncheon
Where I break bread
With people who can't
Pronounce my name or yours.

* * *

Albino Carrillo received a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from Arizona State University in 1993, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of New Mexico in 1986. His poems are anthologized in Library Bound:  A Saratoga Anthology (Saratoga Springs Library Press, 1996), The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press, 2007) and Camino Del Sol:  15 years of Latina and Latino Writing (University of Arizona Press, 2010). Carrillo's book of poems is In the City of Smoking Mirrors (University of Arizona Press, 2004). Before teaching at the University of Dayton, Carrillo taught in the English Department at the University of Minnesota, and at Union College of New York, where he held a Post-Doctoral Fellowship.

 
 

Continue browsing Latino/a Roundtable Poets

 
fcny