John Gould Fletcher- Arizona Poems. Mexican Quarter

By an alley lined with tumble-down shacks,
And street-lamps askew, half-sputtering,
Feebly glimmering on gutters choked with filth, and dogs
Scratching their mangy backs:
Half-naked children are running about,        5
Women puff cigarettes in black doorways,
Crickets are crying.
Men slouch sullenly
Into the shadows.
Behind a hedge of cactus,        10
The smell of a dead horse
Mingles with the smell of tamales frying.
And a girl in a black lace shawl
Sits in a rickety chair by the square of unglazed window,
And sees the explosion of the stars        15
Fiercely poised on the velvet sky.
And she seems humming to herself:
“Stars, if I could reach you
(You are so very near that it seems as if I could reach you),
I would give you all to the Madonna’s image        20
On the gray plastered altar behind the paper flowers,
So that Juan would come back to me,
And we could live again those lazy burning hours,
Forgetting the tap of my fan and my sharp words,
And I would only keep four of you—        25
Those two blue-white ones overhead,
To put in my ears,
And those two orange ones yonder
To fasten on my shoe-buckles.”
A little further along the street        30
A man squats stringing a brown guitar.
The smoke of his cigarette curls round his hair,
And he too is humming, but other words:
“Think not that at your window I wait.
New love is better, the old is turned to hate.        35
Fate! Fate! All things pass away;
Life is forever, youth is but for a day.
Love again if you may
Before the golden moons are blown out of the sky
And the crickets die.        40
Babylon and Samarkand
Are mud walls in a waste of sand.”

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