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.