Instructions for Border-Crossing

If tú taste the laced trickle of mineral, don’t swallow

your spit. A broke-down tour bus can corre on bootleg rum

and donkey piss. Mejor to never complain that it’s hot,

porque este lugar está justo mucho tanta arena errante.

Otherwise, it’s only seguro to talk about el tiempo. Sol y

more sun. Moral: no matter where you are, it’s a gallery

of masks; enough enemigos in every espejo. Keep moving.

Pronto te alejarás. Don’t ask—you should always run

down a list of alibis y piensa dos veces. Recuerde, English

is a type of spin. The skin-marks left by zip-cuffs leave

mapas viejos cual están sangrando; rough terrain where leyendas

smudge into a sprawl of gaps, best sigues tu sudor donde gotea.

Chava, don’t reason with coyotes, they’ll write you off

as entre los perdió. How many sisters hicieron desaparecer

a haze across this basurero quemado y slurry, their trek

now a breeze through some maze of cañones? Cuidado

de lava rocks y razor wire, the crosshairs of any Minuteman:

el luz de mediodía es un blister. Sabe solomente una cosa verde

could make this desert bloom. Cualquier papeles te dan

means you have no dice since each piece of ground’s surrounded

by some barbs. Por lo tanto, hide your tender en los snakeholes—

slide each trinket in a sink, burn every link back, and void your fake

windbreaker. Viaja en la noche but don’t trust ningunas estrellas:

pueden caer. Grind your bootsoles on your one cuchillo bueno

until they leave no tracks. And if you’re asked, just say you’ve nunca

tuve un hogar porque the polvomente spot where you were born

has blown away. Avoid the pump-jacks’ seesaws, blades of windfarms.

West Texas is a no-man’s-land and el nombre de todos rios is mirage.

Encuentras algún trabajo pero aún no estas aquí jamás. So if you’re ever

startled at a stopgap spot check by la migra, patrol cars where buzz-

cut guardas wave you out and trip you up in small talk, determined

to make you fall behind, tarde al tu trabajo—their stiff German

Shepherd, trained to maul you, sniffing your pant-legs for whether

you’ve the whiff of mules—then hand your pinched card over.

He’ll look you up, inch by inch, and down. Once, twice, he’ll squint

at your foto, faded white as any leper. He’ll scan it. Bueno weather,

he might remark. Sí. Mira, días alegras sin fin. Go ahead, feel free

to point out you’re not from around these parts. But really, hell

if it ain’t a beautiful country. He’ll have to agree. Una tierra de hierro

y un cielo herido ambos derramaban sus sangre a través de una frontera.

Tell him that. See where it’ll get you. Or rather, tell him some things

should just be kept separate—tales como oil y vida, agua and money.


Will Cordeiro has work appearing or forthcoming in Best New Poets, The
Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, DIAGRAM, Poetry Northwest, Sycamore Review, The Threepenny Review
, and elsewhere. Will co-edits the small press Eggtooth Editions and currently lives in Guadalajara, Mexico.