Inside the cock pit, men wear baggy ankled pants,
double hemmed, that drag up dirt like dying smoke plumes.
Sometimes the ground is already bright and blood-splattered.
It is always too hot. Pesos are wagered on the flail of wings and
quickness of feet fettered by metal spurs; wagered on the
congenital male aggression of the species. But, o, how tender
the gallero puffs air from his mouth onto the gamecock’s
head, under the gamecock’s wing, as if willing it back to life
in a kiss. He’ll attempt to prop the animal up, its beak limp
and desolate. Like the fowl, contestants in the town’s beauty
pageant are all ruffle and strut under the plaza’s temporary
spotlights. Somewhere behind the stage there is a fog machine.
Chuy used to paint the set’s background but since he was
disappeared by men with AK-47’s, el Pelón had to do the job.
Chuy’s eleven-year-old son, Piquín, took the call from the morgue
and gave a DNA sample when Nicanor the Undertaker’s yet
unidentified body turned up in Santo Tómas. Piquín was seen
kicking in the rusted yellow door of the neighbor’s truck.
The day the men went searching, some came back with finger-
nails like dark crescent moons. At night, the banda played
Puño de Tierra, a final bet already rubbling in the ring.