Poetry: Aubade with La Bestia by Alfredo Aguilar

“Aubade with La Bestia” beautifully parses the potential of a love poem through eyes contemporary and rarely seen. As all good love poems, Aguilar’s aubade sings of power, and generosity, and longing, and violence—the dark immutable violence always hugging the peripheral.


Aubade with La Bestia

[ La Bestia is a network of Mexican freight trains utilized by U.S.- bound migrants to more quickly traverse the length of Mexico. This mode of travel is dangerous & punishable by law.]

i shrunk at your side while you waited
on the train headed north. you wanted a better

story that was days away. you had stuffed two
hundred dollars into the lining of your shoes.

you told me about people on train rooftops
who fought sleep. how those who failed lost

their limbs to wheels. were deferred to towns
they sought only to pass through. i watched

the maps of our countries kill people & saw you
become untraceable on a globe. i thought

of the police uniforms who ambushed & held
for ransom the people who could only offer a name.

you spoke about the patronas who threw
bottled water & food to folks riding through. the hands

that rose for rice hung from a telephone
line. how people found sleep in a church under

a crucifix. a horn wailed the train’s arrival.
there was a rush of wind. i looked into your face.

you carried your country in your eyes. i told you
even when you leave you do not leave. you turned,

leapt into a metal blur—



Alfredo Aguilar

Alfredo Aguilar is the son of Mexican immigrants. He is the author of two forthcoming chapbooks, Recuerdo (YesYes Books 2018) & What Happens On Earth (BOAAT Press 2018). He has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference & VONA. His work has appeared or will soon appear in The Iowa Review, The Adroit Journal, Muzzle, & elsewhere. He lives in North County San Diego.

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