In the Cannery the Porpoise Soul

By Juan Felipe Herrera Juan Felipe Herrera
In the cannery the porpoise soul
& the shadow fins of spirit boats lie awake
the hundred hooks & flying reels
one harpoon
& the silver fleshing in the nets

the mayor is waiting/counting scales
dreaming new quotas & tuna coasts
(under the table blood & payrolls
swim to the shores on a crucifix of oil)

in the cannery the porpoise soul
steals a dagger for the engines throat
tuna fins etch an X
on the green stone of the ships floor

there are documents with worker sweat
files & rolled sleeve salt
a spear of sails & anchor years
(lost)
inside the shoulders & against the ropes
(somehow)
a policy gunned the waves back
before the porpoise sea was born

“In the Cannery the Porpoise Soul” from Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems by Juan Felipe Herrera. Copyright © 2008 Juan Felipe Herrera. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press. This material is protected from unauthorized downloading and distribution.

Source: Half of the World in Light (The University of Arizona Press, 2008)

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Poet Juan Felipe Herrera

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Social Commentaries, Jobs & Working, Activities

 Juan  Felipe Herrera

Biography

The son of migrant farm workers, Herrera was educated at UCLA and Stanford University, and received his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His numerous poetry collections include 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border: Undocuments 1971-2007, Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (2008), and Border-Crosser with a Lamborghini Dream (1999). In addition to publishing more than a dozen collections . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Jobs & Working, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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