The International Athletes

At the car-wash you see them

under its marquee that flashes out $2.95
among giant blowers, brushes and suds
vacuum roar whirring of buffers

the line-up of boys: Carlos, Joaquin, Jesus

a bright Hollywood day, half of
Detroit will pass under their hands:
Cougar Caprice Cutlass
Mustang Pinto Impala
quick brown hands fly over the fins
of Firebird Falcon they polish
the fenders of Maverick, Squire, Ambassador

endless files of heavy metal, El
Camino, Silverado, Riviera
Camaro, Sapporo, Granada
ay chingado! el cacique El Dorado
with its chrome, its crest, its
appointments, its velvet upholstery

Julio, up from the rancho
his grandpa lost in Uruapan
Jorge, no work in the barrios of Puebla for a year
Pablo, whose children were starving in Tepic

electric with work
ecstatic with work
gleaming with sweat
their muscles ripple
under the dark skin of forearms
lean and lithe in T-shirts and
new tennis shoes, light-
footed they dance
around the sacred heavy metal
the little sparring dance
of soon-to-be champions
the car-wash their ring their workout
they are in training for the next job
better and yet to come

At dark, night school and English
Oscar jogs Alfonso lifts weights
Antonio writes his mama
Paco his vieja

una cerveza with the ritual washing of jeans
the shining boots by Radio Variedades

shared furnished rooms, cold
beans and tortillas, dreams
of a novia or a hard blonde gringa
or a neat little Colt
their hands had fondled at noon

:: Joan Lindgren, in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review #7 (1995)

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