How Not to Become a Ghost en el Desierto

Gerardo Pachero Matus


rub your fingertips to the bone with a glass shard
if la migra scan your fingerprints, they will know you’re alivethey’ll know you live in Texas
they’ll know you slaughtered pigs and cows
in a meat processing plant without documentos or la mica
they’ll know you were deported days ago

if they catch you in San Luis Rio Colorado
riding your old bicicleta crossing la linea
they’ll ask you, “amigo, tu has vivido en los Estados Unidos?”
tell them you don’t speak español, tell them you speak maya

in Sonoita Sonora, buy ropa militar to camouflage
en el desierto, buy black garrafas de agua
don’t buy white plastic jugs
the sun will dry your water up faster

don’t carry any id or a mica, or la foto de tu novi@
even if your corazon aches when you think about their eyes

memorize tia Guadalupe’s phone number
write her address inside your shirt and pants
she lives in New York City or California
don’t hesitate to call her even if she loves
to call you bastardo hijo de la chingada

if la migra catches you, don’t brag you speak ingles
don’t brag you went to UC Berkeley
don’t tell them you live in San Francisco
don’t tell them you loved a girl in Vermont
don’t tell them another girl broke your heart in Tennessee

don’t make any deals with any cartel
to carry across el desierto mota or chiva or crank
la migra will send you to Florence State Prison
for 25-years if they can prove you’re a burro

if you find yourself alone en el desierto
be careful! don’t ignore the yellow and black signs
with the sun, cactus, and the rattlesnake pictures
that read: “¡Cuidado! -No exponga su vida a los elementos
-No vale la pena”

if you find yourself dying alone en el desierto
watch out, real ghosts live in the desierto


Visual Art: Elliott Jerome Brown Jr., glass, 2021, UV-laminated archival inkjet print mounted on Dibond, 40 x 30 inches.