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Hot Dogs


Not sirens

Mark our arrival at the hospital.

“Hola. I’m Augustin, Information specialist.

It’s my job to escort reporters.

I guess that’s close enough to-

Everyone reaches out.

Shakes hands.

“Close enough to whatever your

Little band is.”

If I call him “Gusto”,

His name begins with “G”.

I don’t believe this is an accident.

He belongs with us.

But bull elephants always come

And go.

“Where were they?” Gloria fills in the lines.

“The way BORSTAR described it

Pretty much someone else’s backyard.

It’s a shame how much trash fleeing migrants leave.”

Gloria writes a number I don’t understand.

“She’s alone,” I say.

“No. There were five.”

The girl looks about my age

If I can judge beneath

Scorched skin and cooling bruises.

“Where are they?”

“They only needed water.”


“They were sent back across the border.”

It takes the border

Between life and death

To be left.

Gloria marks a series of “F”s.

“All women?” I breathe.

“Sí. Her coyote left her when she couldn’t keep up.”

“The women found her first?”

“Sí. The women called for help.

Even though it meant-”


I close my eyes.

The girl can’t walk.

She was moved around

By her body parts

By others

In clothes that poorly fit.


“Yes.” “Call her Geni. Okay?”

Gloria nods.

Clicks her phone.

Checks the date.

For three days.

I watch TV.

I write in my notebook

The only words the hole in the blanket

Lets me see.

“This corridor will allow animals

To safely pass along

And across the border.”

The more days we sit

The messier Gloria’s stack of papers becomes.

Numbers sterilized in the same chemical fumes

Always dripping in tears

The woman with the elephant necklace

Doesn’t want me to see.

Homeless shelters. Counseling.

Food. Clothes.

Court date. Sponsor.

Gloria bought hot dogs for the 4th of July.

She said we should have a party in the hospital room.

“I want you to have a hot dog.

It’s your country’s birthday.”

I save my salchicha.

I know I have no country.

In the evening,

Across the border

Dogs haunt the plaza.

“Hot dogs,” I explain.

“Are not dogs.

The dog snorts warm air on my hand.

“I like salchichas and ketchup and chips.

I used to buy all those things on my way home

From class to the plaza for lunch.

But I would buy the salchichas

And the ketchup in a bag.”

A dog licks at the plastic.

He would, like all street dogs,

Tear the plastic apart.

“You know I’m sorry,

No matter how thin the dog hanging around the tienda,

I never bought extra,

Nor did I give my share away.”

The dog opens his mouth.

Shows its pinkness

“Don’t show teeth.

You must show some weakness

To be fed.

To be known.”

A hand simply outstretched looks like all the others.

It intimidates.

It offends.

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