Irrigation Canal Codex by Luis Alberto Urrea

This is how our cheap food is paid for. And yet we can look at our early spring California produce without a feeling of complicity.

synthetic zerØ

Y los muchachos cling

to the cantina’s jukebox heart, sing:

we never go nowhere we never see nothing

but work: these fingers bleed every daylong day,

aching from la joda of the harvest–

y la muerte, esa puta que les chifla

from the bus station balcony, from I-10,

from Imperial Ave. truck lot behind the power station,

from waterbreak delirium, from short-hoe

genuflections down pistolbarrel fields–

and the canals, green,

pumping life into those chiles, los tomates, once

a year some poor pendejo can’t take the grease-

heat drudge, the life of a burro, the lonesome nights

of sweat and harsh sheets and drinks

tattered lips pulling tequila

till el vato’s so alucinado he thinks

he can run free, thinks

the trucks with spotlights are motherships, thinks

he sees Villa shooting cars off I-25, hears Tlaloc, god

of storms, calling: water to water,

rain to rain, mud to mud—feed me…

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