Diana Anhalt

How to Ride la Bestia

Everyone knows the road to the American dream runs through the Mexican nightmare. . .
— Homero Aridjis, Huffington Post, July 8, 2014

Remember. You’re cargo — at one with cement, iron, quartz, wheat.
As the train crawls out of Arriaga, its whistle shrieking departure,
lights dimmed by mosquitoes, crouch close to the tracks.

You’ll smell diesel and, as hundreds surge forward, their sweat.
Aim for the cars in the middle, best shielded from wind.
Seize the rungs. Hoist yourself clear of the wheels. Beware

or suffer the fate of thousands. Back to back their severed limbs
would stretch from here to Tijuana. The train quickens its howl.
Mount its steel flanks. Shield your eyes from debris. Trust

to dark nights, to your youth. Stow what you have — a jackknife,
an address, a hard-boiled egg. For fourteen hundred miles
low-flying vultures will shadow your tracks. Hide dollars in shoe soles.

You are blood sport for border guards, policemen, la Mara gangs.
When fear rides your back, make the sign of the cross.
Cleave to St. Jude, he of lost causes. Pin your faith on
miracles. Should he fail, pray for quick death.

© Diana Anhalt

Diana Anhalt is the author of three chapbooks, among them Second Skin (Future Cycle Press) and Lives of Straw (Finishing Line Press), and of essays, short stories and book reviews published in both English and Spanish. Her poetry has appeared in a wide variety of publications including Nimrod Journal, The Atlanta Review, Sow’s Ear, and Comstock Review. In an attempt to learn more about the political expatriates who fled the U.S. and settled in Mexico during the McCarthy Era, she wrote A Gathering of Fugitives (Archer Books). Her prose and poetry has received awards from Passager, The Writers Place, Common Ground, Litchfield Review, and Frith Press, among others.

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2 thoughts on “Diana Anhalt”

  1. since i have published in loch raven- i take a keen interest in its authors- and deign to regale each w my brilliance (l9o0l) – i like anhalt- poetry that deals w a current problem

  2. Alice Folkart said:

    So strong, so scary, so sad … That image of the severed limbs – whew! The enumeration of what this man (we presume) has with him, an address, a knife and a hardboiled egg puts the reader right there with him, following the wise advice to clamber into a middle car. This poem makes me feel the pulse of the immigrant and the train and the two countries. Well done.

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