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ANGEL

After Hans R. Vlek

No dinero, no dollars, no baksheesh. Each day before dark
Me and my hermanito hit the garbage heaps.
Sometimes we find some old grapefruits that we can eat,
Table scraps from chic downtown eateries, and for me

To work the streets, a pair of laddered tights. Usually, it’s not much,
But it’s enough. My hermanito scuffs the dust
As he dogs me with his plastic carrier. Then I whip
Him back early, cos pap’s got ulcers, and mama’s borne us a new sister

In the barriada beneath the candle and the cross.
Then it’s vamonos,
Slip into a pair of the worn black fishnets
And cruise the cantinas on the scarlet streets at night.

Mama says that Jesus will grant a good girl dispensation
To blow a gringo from the army camp
And buy us fresh fish and oil for the lamp for a week or more.

I lie in the desierto beneath the Sierra Madre,
Where we played Hansel and Gretel among the desert magueys.
Mama, why did the soldiers take me, I am only thirteen.