Thursday, June 10, 2010


by Robert Hass

I have just crossed the Rio Grande,

And by a string of clever switchbacks

Have, for the moment, outwitted the posse.

Ahead lie the ghosts of Sierra Madre.

Behind, I have nothing but sun,

While the condor's shadow circles over my bones.

Though the mountains are steep, my horse doesn't falter,

And now I know why starving bandoleros

Will never shoot their animals for food.

Beyond my mirage, I see the white adobe—

Yes, the one with the red-tiled roof—

Which one afternoon I will lean against, with my hat down

And knees up, after a bottle of tequila.

In that siesta, I am sure to dream
Of the lovely senorita

Who has stolen away from her father

To meet me in the orchard.

But enough of that. There is work to be done.

I have cattle to rustle and horses to steal

Before the posse picks up my trail.

(In a poem of Mexico, it would be unwise
For a poet to mention the posse is his wife.)

So, mi amigo, if you find her

Prowling my mountains

With a wooden spoon in her hand,

Tell her I am not here.

Tell her I have run off
With Cormac McCarthy and Louis L'Amour,

That I ride like the wind

To join up with the great Pancho Villa.

"Mexico" by Robert Hass, from Counting Thunder. © David Robert Books, 2008. Reprinted with permission.

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