Posted by in lit

Sun washed streets of San Miguel
In the province of Laguna
Palms wave
Children shout

Outstretched hands
Eyes of night
Teeth like gravestones
Hard brown feet

Men pass you in jeepnys
Ahorse and afoot

Fragile fighting roosters
Cradled tenderly
In tattooed arms

Fighting roosters of Laguna
Most marvelous
And resplendent

Feathers blood red
Orchid gold
Undertaker black, lily white

Idlers lounge about
The dusty arena Laugh, make eyes
At the soft drink girls

Some well fed in their barongs
Sleek, fat hips,
Oily smirks

Others dapper, half-Castillian
Tap tailored cigarettes
On manicured thumbnails
Treacherous smiles

Some squat on their hams
Faces brown as koa
Flat bellied, all grit and muscle
Guerrilla grins

They drink dimpled bottles of gin
Angelic San Miguel
On the label

Bright wings
Long lance
Tramples Satan underfoot


Men soothe
The high strung birds
Flatter them, coo to them

The roosters smell blood
Held aloft like champions
Above the rabble brag and swagger

See my most wonderful bird
Eyes of fire Heart of courage
Spurs of steel

Razor shivs tied to their left legs
Roosters always
Lead with the left

The odds maker alone in the pit
Head thrown back
Arms thrown out

The gamblers call him Cristo
Jesus on the cross
A black 9 millimeter

In his back pocket
Flat, deadly
Like the head of a viper

Two men bring the birds
Stroking, petting
Whispering to them

The roosters
Hiss and stare
Electric with courage

The odds maker shouts
Hoarse voices scream their wagers
The roosters tremble

Released, they rise
Converge to shouts and cheers
Bright blades slashing

Blood and feathers
Sparkle in the dusty air
Like a fountain

One falls broken in the dust
Narrow chest spilling open
Every feather wilted

Money passes hand to hand
The loser dumped like garbage
Victor fondled, petted
Tiny game heart pounding


Then a shrinking blind girl
In dark glasses
And a ragged crone
Creep into the ring

The odds maker nods
Beggars he says to you
Makes a motion to his mouth
They must beg to eat

The wretched girl smiles shyly
Hides her sallow pocked face
Behind the witch who leads her

So small in the center
Of the blood smeared pit
She lifts her voice
The crowd falls silent

She sings that Jesus raised
The rich mans’ daughter from the dead
Though the people laughed him to scorn

That he healed the blind men
The two brave ones who
Called on him for mercy

She sings though I am blind
I see your hearts
I know you
Are not men without mercy

Coins slowly tumble down
Pelting the dusty pit
Like fat rain drops

The old woman creeps about
Gathers coins
Wipes away dust and blood

Passing through bright green country
The next day you see
Roosters tethered to tiny hutches

Away from the tall grass
Safe from cobras
From giant lizards

Standing proud in the sunshine
Wings outstretched
Little Cristos

The blind girl sang
That in His glory
Many were restored to sight