Anthony Adrian Pino
Plum Valley—Joaquín and Me

Looking east from Plum Valley
Seeing the yellow hills and moss oak in between them
The valley floor ribbed with crops
Patches of cherries, plums, walnuts, pears,
A blue, low-flying biplane dipping beyond the orchard to
Dump its little poison cloud; looking east I see
The soft green crevices between the Diablos
That hide the trails, the caves,
The shady live oak places where we
Kids sometimes biked for mysteries: snakes, coyotes,
Old rusty horseshoes, or maybe something more interesting —
Half-naked lovers, or maybe the great Bandido himself.
"That can't be," Jerry Sanchez once said.
"Didn't you hear?" he asked.
"They cut off his head, the white people did
And put it on a stick and rode all around
California showing everyone his beaten face.
After that, Mexico could never have California again."
"Then who was it living in those caves?" we asked.
(No one said "Maybe his ghost," but that's
What we thought, saying nothing).
Now years have gone by and I can't see the earth,
Can't smell the sweet decaying
Mediterranean grasses in the soft sediment.
Can't cut my feet on broken arrow heads
Or prick my skin with foxtails
Or lurch to avoid the droppings of palominos
Or put my face up into the sky and feel the heavy
Abyssal blue of it and the hot burn that cooked me summer brown.
No, none of this possible now.
Pavement is possible,
Compulsive turns are possible;
Possible are very strong coffee, fast cars
Running pedestrians, dental appointments,
Parking tickets and gourmet pizza.
So now
I sit quietly,
An old man,
Waiting silently for the return
Of the great Bandido of our childhood;
I hope he will come storming into Macy's
With a hundred horsemen
Fabulous fools in sandals and sombreros,
Shooting into the ceilings, blowing bugles
And screaming to all heaven,
Overturning the necktie sales and dynamiting the escalators.
He will claim it all for Mexico!
Mexico again!
And I will ride with him!

                          Yes, I will ride with him!


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