after Juan Felipe Herrera’s “187 Reasons Why Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border”
con amor para los 23 del 3 de agosto del 2019/with love for the 23 of August 3, 2019.

Because we will still travel for a Walmart weekend in gringolandia.
Because we will still buy Bic pens in bulk so they last our children until they’re 21.
Because we will still recognize that 7-Eleven gas lasts longer than Pemex.
Because we will still smile when a dog sniffs our bags, troca or traseros.
Because we will still sweat into our shoes, jeans, eyes to climb the bridge and say “American.”  
Because we will still pack Sabritas, Bonafont, and bedpan in our cars to wait in line for hours to show our green card.
Because we will still cross to Juárez to get tacos, tortas and steaks for the best taste and price.
Because we will still lick our fingers before grabbing the wheel to drive back to El Paso.
Because we will still have a love/hate relationship with I-10, the kilometers turning into miles.
Because we will still whisper paciencia when Chuco people signal right but don’t, in fact, exit on Hawkins to get to Walmart.
Because we will still fundraise for our daughter’s fútbol team under this sun.
Because we will still think maldita sea when we see the Equate brand of Gain is out.
Because we will still scoff at the price of avocados and think esto no puede ser aguacate Hass.
Because we will still think we’re beating the Orange Man by knowing where to buy what.
[Because we are beating him. We’re la frontera, the border, no one looks or does it like us!]
Because we will still say thank you and gracias or thankyou-gracias to the cashier.
Because we will still be as warm as August, the warmest-turned-coldest month.
Because we will still give our backs to bullets so our children and spouses don’t die.
Because we will still feel 23 lives in our necks’ cuero enchinado but stay free; no prison or suicide watch.
Because we will still leave our screen, wood and metal doors open. To anyone.
Because we will still walk while brown in a Walmart (or Target, Sam’s, or Ross) and walk tall.
Because why not? Because heart. Because God. Because Mighty Mexican Super Ratón. Because human.

            Adolfo Cerros Hernandez &
            Sara Esther Regalado Moriel
            Alexander Gerhard Hoffman
            Andre Anchondo &
            Jordan Anchondo
            Angie Englisbee
            Arturo Benavides
            David Johnson
            Elsa Mendoza de la Mora
            Gloria Irma Marquez
            Ivan Filiberto Manzano
            Javier Amir Rodriguez
            Jorge Calvillo Garcia
            Juan de Dios Velazquez Chaires
            Leo Campos &
            Maribel Hernandez
            Luis Alfonzo Juarez
            Margie Reckard
            Maria Eugenia Legarreta Rothe
            Maria Flores &
            Raul Flores
            Teresa Sanchez
            Guillermo Garcia

Copyright © 2021 by Alessandra Narváez Varela. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 12, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.


 There is a large crowd of young folks 
 Hurrying down the road; 
 They are going to have a picnic now, 
 And spread the news abroad. 


 They are wearing beautiful bouquets, 
 And carrying bright tin dippers; 
 New straw hats are waiving high, 
 And patent leather slippers. 

 Their hats are made of fine chiffon, 
 And decorated too. 
 There will be plenty of goodies 
 For your friends and for you. 


 They will have a big barbecue. 
 And a lot of other stuff. 
 They are going to eat and drink 
 Till everybody puff. 


 They will have cakes and candy by the heaps, 
 And ice cream pressed in cake; 
 Peanuts parched fresh and hot, 
 And a lot of fine milk shakes. 


 They will have fish croquets by the bushels, 
 And cocoanut jumbles too; 
 They are going to feed their friends and foes 
 And have enough for you. 


 They are going to have a big dance 
 And have a jolly time. 
 They want to show their handsome looks 
 Because they look so fine.  


 One barrel or two of lemonade, 
 Mixed all through with ice; 
 Lemons cut and thrown therein 
 Gee! it’s awful nice. 

 Of all the fun and jolities, 
 And all the places of rest, 
 Just go to an old picnic ground; 
 They tell me that’s the best. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 17, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

I answered the ad in the paper. I had been unemployed for
nine months and was desperate. At the interview, the man said,
“Do you have much experience climbing tall mountains?” “Absolutely.
I climb them all the time. If I see a tall mountain, I have to
climb it immediately,” I said. “What about swimming long distances
in rough ocean waters, perhaps in a storm?” he said. “I’m like
a fish, you can’t stop me. I just keep going in all kinds of
weather,” I said. “Could you fly a glider at night and land in
a wheat field, possibly under enemy fire?” he said. “Nothing
could come more naturally to me,” I said. “How are you with
explosives? Would a large building, say, twenty stories high
present you with much difficulty?” he said. “Certainly not. I
pride myself on a certain expertise,” I said. “And I take it you
are fully acquainted with the latest in rocket launchers and land-
mines?” he said. “I even own a few myself for personal use. They’re
definitely no problem for me,” I said. “Now, Mr. Strafford, or may
I call you Stephen, what you’ll be doing is driving one of our ice
cream trucks, selling ice cream to all the little kids in the
neighborhood, but sometimes things get tricky and we like all our
drivers to be well-trained and well-equipped to face any eventu-
ality, you know, some fathers can get quite irate if you are out
of their kid’s favorite flavor or if the kid drops the cone,” he
said. “I understand, I won’t hesitate to take appropriate action,”
I said. “And there are certain neighborhoods where you’re under
advisement to expect the worst, sneak attacks, gang tactics,
bodies dropping from trees or rising out of manholes, blockades,
machine gun fire, launched explosives, flamethrowers and that kind
of thing. You can still do a little business there if you are on
your toes. Do you see what I’m saying?” he said. “No problem. I
know those kinds of neighborhoods, but, as you say, kids still want
their ice cream and I won’t let them down,” I said. “Good, Stephen,
I think you’re going to like this job. It’s exciting and challenging.
We’ve, of course, lost a few drivers over the years, but mostly it
was because they weren’t paying attention. It’s what I call the Santa
Claus complex. They thought they were there just to make the kids
happy. But there’s a lot more to it than that. One of our best
drivers had to level half the city once. Of course, that was an
extreme case, but he did what needed to be done. We’ll count on you
to be able to make that kind of decision. You’ll have to have all
your weapons loaded and ready to go in a moment’s notice. You’ll
have your escape plans with you at all times,” he said. “Yes, sir,
I’ll be ready at all times,” I said. “And, as you know, some of
the ice cream is lethal, so that will require a quick judgment call
on your part as well. Mistakes will inevitably be made, but try
to keep them at a minimum, otherwise the front office becomes
flooded with paperwork,” he said. “I can assure you I will use it
only when I deem it absolutely necessary,” I said. “Well, Stephen,
I look forward to your joining our team. They’re mostly crack
professionals, ex–Green Berets and Navy Seals and that kind of
thing. At the end of the day you’ve made all those kids happy,
but you’ve also thinned out the bad seeds and made our city a
safer place to be,” he said. He sat there smiling with immense
pride. “How will I know which flavor is lethal?” I said. “Experiment,”
he said. I looked stunned, then we both started laughing.

“The Ice Cream Man,” from The Ghost Soldiers, published by Ecco, 2008. Copyright © 2008 by James Tate. Reprinted with permission.

   after practice: right foot
to left foot, stepping forward and back, 
   to right foot and left foot,
and left foot up to his thigh, holding 
   it on his thigh as he twists
around in a circle, until it rolls 
   down the inside of his leg,
like a tickle of sweat, not catching 
   and tapping on the soft
side of his foot, and juggling
   once, twice, three times,
hopping on one foot like a jump-roper 
   in the gym, now trapping
and holding the ball in midair, 
   balancing it on the instep
of his weak left foot, stepping forward 
   and forward and back, then
lifting it overhead until it hangs there; 
   and squaring off his body,
he keeps the ball aloft with a nudge 
   of his neck, heading it
from side to side, softer and softer, 
   like a dying refrain,
until the ball, slowing, balances 
   itself on his hairline,
the hot sun and sweat filling his eyes 
   as he jiggles this way
and that, then flicking it up gently, 
   hunching his shoulders
and tilting his head back, he traps it 
   in the hollow of his neck,
and bending at the waist, sees his shadow, 
   his dangling T-shirt, the bent
blades of brown grass in summer heat; 
   and relaxing, the ball slipping
down his back. . .and missing his foot.

   He wheels around, he marches 
over the ball, as if it were a rock
   he stumbled into, and pressing
his left foot against it, he pushes it
   against the inside of his right 
until it pops into the air, is heeled
   over his head—the rainbow!—
and settles on his extended thigh before
   rolling over his knee and down 
his shin, so he can juggle it again
   from his left foot to his right foot
—and right foot to left foot to thigh—
   as he wanders, on the last day
of summer, around the empty field.

From Motion: American Sports Poems, edited by Noah Blaustein. Copyright © 2001 by Christopher Merrill. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Iago speaks to Othello

O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
But, O, what damned minutes tells he o'er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!

This poem is in the public domain.