Pick-up Men Along Pioneer Street

(For the migrant Latinos on many curbs, crossings, cities)

Our stories run parallel,

Pick-up men along Pioneer.

We have come too

In this strange city

To run away

To run away.

We ran away

from our private selves

And public histories.

We ran away

From the runaway peso

In our nation's coffers.

Even as you wait

For the repair job to come by, some

Rich man's garden to sweep,

Clean, weed out, trim

To guarantee a week's meal

In Guatemala or El Salvador,

We too wait

For our luck to come quick

And redeem us

From Manila's hunger

For our remittance in dollars

And unsaid bitter word.

Well, well, such a shame,

And this shame has no family,

No last name, no first name.

And centuries-long.

And persistent.

And endless.

And it will continue

To go on and on,

Rain or shine, storm or sun

Or lightning or thunder.

You stand up there

On those curbs and cold cement

And street crossings

And county civic-mindedness,

Erect and worried,

Erect and with creased foreheads,

The callused hands wiping

The early morning sweat beading

On your laborer's faces,

Your faces our own

As we drive past you

And remember ourselves

In this new land, not ours,

Not yet, this land

That will make it possible for our souls

And songs to meet up,

Make connection in daytime

And in our delightful dreaming,

And together we pick up

The pieces of our alienness,

Make a communion

With the long and cold nights

And then, and then,

We make a country of our cries,

Our cries for something more beautiful

Than the ugly story we had back home,

Our cries for something fairer than

The first famine residing

In our forefathers' fairy tales

Of food on the table, warm and sufficient,

Fertile fields on which to sow our faith

In ourselves, you and I, bound now

By the daring declensions

Of our dire days.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Pioneer Street, Artesia/Fullerton, CA

Nov. 16, 2004

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