Call me Pablo, por favor,
Because I’ve been to a southern land
searching for a language and a
résumé entry, only to return
a brand new man
who walks more slowly,
stresses less, and comprehends
what it means to be a Socialist.
I could’t understand the Socialist thought
knowing only these United States,
where most folks have
the things they need:
enough food to eat and a place to stay.
We might not think we do;
but we’re thinking wrong;
I’ve seen some of those that don’t
Our little is a lot to them;
to disagree is fault.
I have met the children,
in spite of situation laughing,
selling a trinket for next to nothing
to help scrape together
a meager, evening meal.
Pesos, they call for,
with the haughty Capitalist of their number
calling for a dollar
in the shadow of a cathedral of grandeur,
an oppressor’s ticket into heaven.
I have had to turn my down the brim of my cap,
not against the sun,
but to keep private the tears.
I have seen the beggars, many blind
from too much Mescal consumed to escape,
or to little care from this
supposed Democratic state.
I have seen the upturned cowboy hat in which
what is about two cents
makes a difference.
I have seen what a measly piece of paper,
the dollar which buys eight cigarettes; or
a Mountain Dew; or
a half gallon of gas,
means to schoolgirls selling flowers,
who just love to tell you their names;
where they go to school;
and what they like to study,
if you only bother to ask.
Their feet giddily scamper across
the square. The flowers are tossed aside.
Dinner is paid for.
I don’t need
twenty-four cigarettes that badly.
My wine isn’t interrupted; it is enhanced.
I could have all the pesos
in Oaxaca, and when I passed out the last,
I’d be looking for more,
so if you see me on the street,
call me Pablo, por favor.
I wrote this shortly after I studied in Mexico the first time. That was in 2000. There’s so much bad here that it’s hard to say which is the worst aspect of it; if I had to guess, I’d say it’s the conceit. Thank God we learn from living. Forgive the young fool I once was.