Pancho Villa: Last One Standing Is Also the First

Albert Abonado

If asked, I could not describe the faces

of the ones who danced opposite me,

who tried to make elegies erupt with jabs,

who wished to bust up my face into ghosts.

I listened to what the crowd said, how I needed

to be struck down, taken out,

put in the goddamn ground already.

Said go clean my kitchen.

Said make me rice.

No man loses to a fucking monkey.

Tell these men what I know: the source

of proper form starts from the dirt and I’ve got bones

made of coal. I’m half earth, half fire.

I’m made of teeth and shine. I earned

this space by bringing the night with my hands,

came here with the tide slung over my shoulder.

I’m the one who buried Magellan,

who traded missionaries for knives.

I’ve got each one of Rizal’s bullets,

and I’ve brought them back as fists.

They came with names like Frankie Genaro,

Johnny Buff, and Jimmy Wilde.

These are those half-devil/half-child fists.

These are those 300-years fists.

These are those what-do-you-mean-$20-million fists.

In the end they called out my name: Villa! Villa! Villa!

Maybe I did leave my jaw to rot

for too long, should have taken

the hospital bed when I had the chance.

Didn’t they know I already had a mouth

full of poison? Instead, they said

I left too much to grit and alcohol,

and no man can expect to live like that

for long, but it wasn’t all about living either.

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