Gallo Pinto

Fuel for the man
with an earache, waiting,
fuel for the school girl,
her period late,

fuel for the too-tall
gallo pinto.

Breakfast, almuerzo,
dinner, snack—
cumin, cilantro,
black beans, rice.

Fuel for crazed drivers
blind around
curves, gallo

pinto. Fuel for
cart drivers
yoked oxen.

Fuel for surveyors
taking the long view,
fuel in black-veiled
acres of fronds.

Fuel for waiters'
aching arches,
fuel for drummers,
teachers, potters.

For painters
of houses speckled
azul, limón,
vivid gallo pinto.

For blacksmiths
twisting tico
window iron,

gallo pinto.
Fuel for unwinders
of razor wire,

For gun-toting
thieves, chopped
gallo pinto.

For armed guards
outside Rosti-Pollo, fuel.
Fuel for drug runners
speeding through.

Half rations
for wrecked plywood
Nicaraguans, ramshackle
rusty gallo pinto.

Fuel for the sorrowful
mourners straggled
behind that sealed casket.
Loved one's last meal, gallo pinto.

Fuel for the woman
sweating in labor,
woman about to give birth
to the world. Gallo pinto.

—Peggy Shumaker, Fairbanks, AK