Calling the White Donkey

By Ray Gonzalez b. 1952 Ray Gonzalez
I called the white donkey that hurt my left shoulder
the last time it appeared, ramming me
with its ivory head, cracking my back
to relieve me of worry and hope.
I called the white donkey,
surprised at the sound of my voice.
Scared, I wondered if the white head
would give me its donkey brain,
snowy matter dripping into my ears
like the horse of the first man who fell off,
the donkey teaching me about desire
and the moan, that white hair on the back
of my head that warns me.
I called the donkey.
It came slowly toward me,
huge ears shaking with fury,
its breath turning the air white
as it bit into the white apple
of my throat.
I faced the donkey, watched
its gait become a shuffle of possession,
shaking its head as it stopped to
root its dirty hoofs in the ground.
I stepped back and clicked my fingers,
but it would not come closer, its snort
commanding I listen as it farted.
I walked away and did not know it was
I who yearned for labor of the ass
because the animal I summoned
couldn’t remove the white scar from
my heart, a blind life I lived for good.

Ray Gonzalez, “Calling the White Donkey” from Consideration of the Guitar: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by Ray Gonzalez. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

Source: Consideration of the Guitar: New and Selected Poems (BOA Editions Ltd., 2005)

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Poet Ray Gonzalez b. 1952

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Life Choices, The Body, Nature, Animals, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

 Ray  Gonzalez


Poet, essayist, and editor Ray Gonzalez was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. Gonzalez’s work is inextricably linked to his Mexican ancestry and American upbringing in the deserts of the Southwest, as well as to rock n’ roll music and mid-century American poets such as Robert Bly and James Wright. A long-time professor at the University of Minnesota, Gonzalez has spoken to the importance of place in his work: “I do not have to . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, The Body, Nature, Animals, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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