Hard Curas on "C" Street 1436 "C" Street, late fifties, San Diego, California Show Mamá my right big toe infected and swollen. Ven aquí, she says. OK, Mom. Just put your foot in this pan of hot water. Hold the toe up, Juan, come on. OK, now, give me that razor. What razor? Your papi's brand new Gillette. It's not brand new, Mamá. 'S OK, the hot water and the salt will burn the germs. You ready, Juan? Limpia for Walking into Clear Campos Winter, Carbondale, Illinois, late February, 1993 Step ahead, be careful-the ice, you can slip. Unloosen, breathe. Remember to breathe deep. Unloosen. Swing to an easy beat. Let your jacket become light, the sweet light from the floating leaves of winter. Sing to yourself. Follow the naked trees. Sing I drop my burdens from my feet that guide them I drop my burdens from my ankles that turn them I drop my burdens from my calves that cup them I drop my burdens from my knees that rock them I drop my burdens from my thighs that run them I drop my burdens from my hips that churn them I drop my burdens from my sex that heats them I drop my burdens from my belly that smoothes them I drop my burdens from my ombligo that ties them I drop my burdens from the small of my back that cradles them I drop my burdens from my cintura that dances them I drop my burdens from my ribs that cage them I drop my burdens from my breasts that nourish them I drop my burdens from my mid-back that protects them I drop my burdens from my shoulder blades that build them I drop my burdens from my shoulders that salute them I drop my burdens from my upper arms that wrap them I drop my burdens from my elbows that swing them I drop my burdens from my forearms that caress them I drop my burdens from my wrists that pull them I drop my burdens from my hands that grasp them I drop my burdens from my fists that defend them I drop my burdens from my fingers that find them I drop my burdens from my neck that balances them I drop my burdens from my head that circles them I drop my burdens from my forehead that honors them I drop my burdens from my eyes that picture them I drop my burdens from my nose that breathes them I drop my burdens from my face that covers them I drop my burdens from my lips that invite them I drop my burdens from my mouth that savors them I drop my burdens from my voice that soothes them I drop my burdens from my throat that swallows them I drop my burdens from my heart that lives them I drop my burdens from my lungs that fill them I drop my burdens from my stomach that knots them I drop my burdens from this body that holds them. I drop my burdens. I drop my burdens. As I walk, I drop my burdens. As I walk, I melt with the snow. Immigrant Fortune Teller Machine Lissen, Bobo Chango-yeah, you, rope-a-dope blues lover, writer with a jinx on your ass, time is up on your side of the block, betta' be adding up your karma tortillas ]us about now, 'cuz, all the chips you've been collecting be gone to the wind, man, so lemme set you straight in a nice way, got it? So, whaddya gotta do, Chango, is-begin again, toss out your old coins, your mamá ashes, your papá whips, yo' bad boy lover pill-poppin' games an' mos of all your fast talkin' total whack communicating genius girl self out the door! Ahright, Sugar, yeah, thass what I say, step on out now, naked, everything showing, yo' true self, not that slime bug collection you've been showing at the parlour, no no, noooo you know whadday mean, yeah, Chango, now, iz up to you, you gotta trow out all that razz matazz affabet', all them piles & stacks of crosswords, those tiny pronunciation dictionaries, the ol' memory power tapes and that self-enlargement machine, you know whad am sayon, OK? Out wid it out with all them hoodlum paintings of yoself, out out, I said, this is the lass stop before you hit Phoenix, you know that next place you say you are bound for, I see your ol' truck outside, hissin', gettin' all shook under the sun, outside, with that fine weasel sitting on the red leather cushion next to the wheel, still rappin' about Desert Storm comix & the great stash of bodies in the trunk all the way from Tegucigalpa, yeah, yeah I know, I heard it true the grave vine, talking about the Virus in air, grinning at you, adding up your DNA like Fritos and bean dip, I can hear it from here, yo' radio blastin' out, yeah, about the Chain People, the Chain Colonies, the hunger artists in search of chicken sandwiches, the new bands of rape dogs, it's my language anyway, sucker so whadelseiz new, you going to ask me a new new question today? You come up with somethin' new new? So tell me then, wha? Did you say new, did you say Shakyamuni? Did you say Shotinyotoey? In the hall, the fast destiny velvet ball, is that what I hear I heard you say something? Or maybe you were jus laughing in that fast high mariachi voice you got from whoknowswhere, San Francisco? Yeah, you jus bopped in on the sneak, but I'm tellin' you, don't you come heah homo thinking I'm going to put up wid you & your razz about yo'self and all those yellow papers you carry in your fish bag, yeah thass what it smell like, fish, good o1' mackerel, wrapped in newspaper, yeah, yeah, you call it something else, you always call it something else, you come out with all those fancy hooks, those scratchy little phrases, those words, yeah those hooks, thass what you call them, wordyhooks, and you spin around me like an Italian Puerto Rican boxer with all the moves an' handsome serious faces you make saying you look good in any hat south of Broadway, but, I'm telling straight up sugar, time is up, see that door to yo' left, no that one, muchacho, the one to your left I said, yeah the one cracked dopen, the one with all those tiny smoky black bluish candles popping inside, gold smoke and shadows, red vases blurrin' wavin' into watery insects on the wall there, some kind of holiday, like, come on now, I told you all about that door long time ago, remembrrr, yeah, you remembrrr, that first almost infinite day when you came up to me yo'self, yo' mamá and papi still alive then, I think they were havin' coffee and apple pie a la mode over there the newsstand, and your father was talkin' big 'bout buyin' some kinda land in Kingman, Arizona paying thuddy dollars a month from the Welfare check sayin' he was goin' to leave it you, but he was jus a li'l too old for those things, his light was 'bout gone then, then, well you know the res. Now sugar, one lass time, you go now, get on out now, leave those old cardboard boxes here, ain't nothin' in them anyway, jus leave them right heah, & go on out there, time is right, I can tell the way people are shuffling their feet & the shadows 'cross the fences, time is time, jus smell the wet night rollin' in, you know how my green blue blouse always gets a li'l tight jus about now, rain comin' in, maybe, my customers drop a coin, ask me 'bout the yellow sparks of sirens, wild crows flyin' up to the saints carved outside the cathedrals askin' same ol' questions, perched on the glass against this glass, jus like you they shiver and whisper like in an ol' movie house, 'bout to begin, I tell 'em the nun & St. Peter jokes 'bout to spin out to the asphalt one more time, yeah, yeah I think the weasel is waiting for you, leave me the rope, doncha worry 'bout a thing, jus smooth your way out yo'self, whistle up with yo' tiny crooked musical faces thass your existence, Bobo Chango boy, thass it. Excerpted from Notebooks of a Chile Verde Smuggler by Juan Felipe Herrera Copyright (c) 2002 by Juan Felipe Herrera Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.