HOW LA GUITARRA WAS BORN
Long ago, there was a vaquero
who rode alone on the plains
except for his horse,
and his herd of cattle.
He was hungry for a woman,
but there was no woman
for hundreds of miles.
While riding, he saw a tree
and chopped it down.
When he peeled the bark off
he saw the wood was a rich golden brown.
With his machete,
he carved the trunk into the form of a woman.
By the campfire that night,
he held the woman of wood in his lap.
With his left hand
he caressed her neck.
With his right hand
he played with her breasts and tummy.
The woman of wood moaned with pleasure
and began to sing.
With happiness in his heart, the vaquero sang along with her.
Each night by the light of the campfire
they sang, and that is how la guitarra was born.
—from Rattle #12, Winter 1999
Tribute to Latino/Chicano Poets
Carlos Cortez Koyokuikatl: “Poetry is the oldest of the arts, outside the art of preparing food, without which there could be no other arts. For me, it is a way of communicating my indignation of the injustices that exist within our human society, particularly that of too many decisions being made by too few people.”