By Mel Goldberg



On one side of the narrow highway

halfway between Jocotopec to Acatlan

is a dirt patch where a woman and

three cows stand in the shade of a white tarp.

A laborer puts dry chocolate and sugar

into his half liter container and adds cane alcohol.

The woman milks the cow into his cup,

and he has pajarete to help him fly

through a day of crushing labor,

clearing brush with his machete,

or bending to cut stalks of broccoli.

When I was offered the drink

I willingly accepted.

But pajarete dulls the senses.

I want a pajarete that will make my words

wild mustangs that fly across the plains

striking awe into the hearts of men

or the silence in the mouth of one just dead.

My pajarete will create the flowers

visited by bees making honey

with the words I cannot write.

It will be the cry of a child just born,

the taste of a peach just picked.

That pajarete will spew fire to ignite the world

and help me understand

why wealth consumes the poor

or children die for lack of love.


(The Pajarete, a tradition for years in Jalisco, is a blend of chocolate and sugar mixed with cane alcohol and milk fresh from a cow.  Traditionally it is taken in the morning by laborers before they go to work in the fields.)

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