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A narrow girl sells purses made of reed.
Dead rabbits hang by feet, their red eyes dull,
while chickens crammed in cages peck their seed.

A vessel in Juan’s brain begins to bleed,
spreading into the fissures of his skull.
A narrow girl sells purses made of reed.

The madams in the district underfeed
hookers they line up for a spectacle
while chickens crammed in cages peck their seed.

A vendor buys his wares, then smokes some weed;
he seldom deems police an obstacle.
A narrow girl sells purses made of reed.

Redeemers tend the poor, avoiding greed
and never gesture for a miracle
while chickens crammed in cages peck their seed.

This is the life they know and that they need,
the common life that no one can annul.
A narrow girl sells purses made of reed
while chickens crammed in cages peck their seed.

Source: Poetry (May 2010)

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

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