South First Street

Down at the tamale factory
on south First Street, he sits,
Mexican sweat jumping off his head.
Across the street stands a big sign
for an immigration attorney:
Para Cita Llamen
For Appointment Call – 447 2742

But he has no dinero
for a cocksure Austin lawyer.
He swam in the night
across the Rio Grande
while scorpions watched;
with a diamond blade in his pocket
and dreams that reach
far away from the tamale factory.

Here in Texas, he’s got limestone steps to sit on,
Mexican sweat jumping off his head,
and a rented room in East Austin.
He makes some cash wrapping tamales.
for now, it’s good enough.

Still, the sign across the street
stares him down,
the big letters spelling hope
no man should have to pay for:
Para Cita Llamen
For Appointment Call – 447 2742

Like all the others,
he’s got green card dreams,
for his children, if not for himself.
Grande dreams, as soon as he can
leave the tamale factory.

The boss’s voice calls
from inside. Break is over.
He crushes his Marlboro
beneath his boot,
looks up at the big sign
across the street:
Para Cita Llamen
For Appointment Call – 447 2742

Maybe tomorrow.

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