Ray Gonzalez


Calling the White Donkey

I called the white donkey that hurt my left shoulder
the last time it appeared, ramming me
with its ivory head, cracking my back
to relieve me of worry and hope.
I called the white donkey,
surprised at the sound of my voice.
Scared, I wondered if the white head
would give me its donkey brain,
snowy matter dripping into my ears
like the horse of the first man who fell off,
the donkey teaching me about desire
and the moan, that white hair on the back
of my head that warns me.

Railroad Face

I sit with my railroad face and ask God to forgive me
for being a straight line toward the dead
who were buried with their poor clothes
in the Arizona desert of iron borders.

This way of waving to the embers of the past,
not apologzing for carrying torn rosaries inside
my pockets where beads of worry became fossilized
insects whose dry husks I kept since a child.

Rattlesnakes Hammered on the Wall

Seven of them pinned in blood by
long, shiny tails, three of them still

alive and writhing against the wood,
their heaviness whipping the wall

as they try to break free,
rattles beating in unison,

hisses slowly dying in silence,
the other four hanging stiff

like ropes to another life,
patterns of torn skin dripping

with power and loss, the wonder
of who might have done this

turning in shock as all seven
suddenly come alive when

I get closer, pink mouths
trembling with white fangs,