At the first crack
in dawn’s black eggshell,
my neighbor’s rooster crows
with a voice
like rusty tap water. He knows
nothing about
childhood asthma rates
from the nearby freeway,
or the incinerator on High Street
that burns up medical wastes
and spews poison.
He dreams of a harem of plump hens,
but poverty has forced him to be monogamous
with one scrawny,
lackluster egg-layer,
so he makes do like the rest of us.
O inner-city rooster
with scabby red wattles
and tough yellow feet
to pick through asphalt and pebbles,
precious souvenir
of my exiled ranchero neighbor
who cultivates a towering cornfield
on his tiny scrap of lawn
and scatters birdseed at 6 A.M.
before he leaves for the first of three
factory jobs. Last poet
of the lost barnyard in Mexico,
with its dawn horses and clean air,
you goad us with your call:
Wake up! Wake up! The sun is rising! It is I,
cacophonous prophet of morning,
who brought it forth!
How many times have I heard you
from the gray depths of sleep,
or waking alone
in the silence of my own sweaty dream.
Brother Rooster, displaced
ghetto oracle,
rouster-out-of-bed, world-jouster,
like you I am directed to bugle
praises to dirt and light,
morning after morning,
no matter what.