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Published: Tue Jul 1 2003
Art by Jin Suk

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.

Robert Bernard Hass is assistant professor of English and Theatre Arts at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Going By Contraries: Robert Frost’s Conflict with Science (Virginia, 2002), and his poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, Sewanee Review, Black Warrior Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Poetry Northwest. (updated 2003)

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