Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ARIZONA POEMS: 2. MEXICAN QUARTER, by JOHN GOULD FLETCHER

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ARIZONA POEMS: 2. MEXICAN QUARTER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: By an alley lined with tumble-down shacks
Last Line: "are mud walls in a waste of sand."
Subject(s): Chicanos; Mexican Americans

By an alley lined with tumble-down shacks
And street-lamps askew, half-sputtering,
Feebly glimmering on gutters choked with filth and dogs
Scratching their mangy backs:
Half-naked children are running about,
Women puff cigarettes in black doorways,
Crickets are crying.
Men slouch sullenly
Into the shadows:
Behind a hedge of cactus,
The smell of a dead horse
Mingles with the smell of tamales frying.

And a girl in a black lace shawl
Sits in a rickety chair by the square of an unglazed
And sees the explosion of the stars
Softly poised on a velvet sky.
And she is humming to herself: --
"Stars, if I could reach you,
(You are so very clear that it seems as if I could reach
I would give you all to Madonna's image,
On the grey-plastered altar behind the paper flowers,
So that Juan would come back to me,
And we could live again those lazy burning hours
Forgetting the tap of my fan and my sharp words.
And I would only keep four of you,
Those two blue-white ones overhead,
To hang in my ears;
And those two orange ones yonder,
To fasten on my shoe-buckles."

A little further along the street
A man sits stringing a brown guitar.
The smoke of his cigarette curls round his head,
And he, too, is humming, but other words:
"Think not that at your window I wait;
New love is better, the old is turned to hate.
Fate! Fate! All things pass away;
Life is forever, youth is for a day.
Love again if you may
Before the stars are blown out of the sky
And the crickets die;
Babylon and Samarkand
Are mud walls in a waste of sand."

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