Raymond doesn’t know his own name.
He speaks Spanish, prefers his coffee black.

I am waiting a train, to go home, to Eastport in Maine.
I can feel the dew rising. Escondido is waking.
On the grill eggs are scrambling. The aroma of day.

A dog’s watching from not far away.
A girl with black hair, pony tail,
and brown eyes, skips by.

Raymond smiles, “You know Mexico?”
I tell him I do. “Grew up with Chicanos
Out here, California, not far, Riverside.”

“Riverside?” his face shows surprise.
“The Sherman Institute’s there.
Where I was when a boy. All Indians were.
To make us live right?  I know how they lied.

No more speak Paiute. New name, substitute.
Forget old ways, learn a trade; something that pays.
Where clothes, spend nights in a bed.

But I sleep outside with the stars. Then run away.
A breed of braceros in an old pickup truck
take me south of the border, like one of them.

Tell me my friend, you conquered this ground,
put borders around, gave it a new name.
And who are you now, where is your tribe?

This coffee is black. Add milk, white;
Now it is brown. So, tell me amigo,
why Escondido is the name of this town?”

—Steve Hluchan—


Wordwise With Pithy Wit - January 2011
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