We learn a phrase a word at a time
loaf, thread, cachucha, y ¿donde está?
while thunder rumbles over Zapopan
and doves flash orange and white
against the darkening sky.
In Barrio Padre we eat chiles
hotter than any de Califas
let tears cleanse us quietly
behind stucco walls.

A small place, Mother said to me once
talking about The World.
Like so many half-truths
her words ring in the star-flung night
like the chimes of the Basilica
too often for our faith.

There are places so far, Mother,
that everything close to you
must, like the language, be
gracefully put aside.
And you pick up what is left
like your money at Casa de Cambio
cumbersome, too heavy and awkward
to be real. But it is what we have been given.
It is all we have to spend.
"Pesos" © copyright 1998 by Michael Hogan. Reprinted from Imperfect Geographies (Q-Trips, 1998).