If an indio is on horseback

and the priest is on foot, the indio
should get down off the horse.

In these suits whoever wins loses his shirt.
Every snot-nose goes to Europe.

He unleashed curses against the century,
the lack of respect, the nascent irreligiosity.

Before he died he spoke in Latin.
A cow was tied to the rope, a nest of birds between its horns.

She spied a doorway with a sentry and tried to get inside.
They say that one appeared with her habit soaking wet, all in tatters.

What is that supposed to mean, he whispered.
That was a dream, and in this world you don’t live in a dream.

My dear little one, the strongest spirit I know is ammonia.
Come to me and I will help you avenge your ancestors.

How many women left their embroidered chinelas in the mud?
A cow was tied to the rope, a nest of birds between its horns.

From here one moves into the arena, which is called the ring.
The hour of danger has arrived.

What should I say to those who sent me?
What else can I say but yes?

What drew his attention most was dried seeds of the amor seco
stuck to the shirt collar. You who will see it, welcome it for me.


~ a found poem, based on readings of Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, trans. Harold Augenbraum; Penguin Classics, 2006

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