Que la via bien, my friend.
The road is a fearsome and dusty toil,
and by the wayside you will find
among the rubbish of the defeated
and debris of debauchery,
the bones of those hungry
for more than forty hours,
and a case of gringo beer.

Que la via bien, my friend.
The road is an old scar
upon the hide of this ancient place.
And the years race by
like herds of rigs down I-99.

E perdoname compa,
but I perceive
you’re but a kid with a six string,
and no particular destination.
And like all the young ones,
duffels loaded down with unhewn music
and dreams in disarray,
standing rigid in a rain of ice beside an empty freeway,
you might question the road taken—
this trail of tears guttered and rutted to the very ends.

And so, I ‘m here to warn you friend, the road can ruin,
can deal you a bad deck down a drunken arroyo.

This word, romance?
It is but a shabby paperback.
Any truth found therein: dog eared and cast asunder.
Cheaply bought was the ruination of Kerouac,
along with so many others, crowding our graveyards.

This highway,
she can wear out the heart
like degraded treads of second-hand tires.
Can send you head on to that tragedy
waiting in the weeds just past the guardrail.

E por eso, que la via bien, my friend.
And understand that this gringo,
this vagabundo will incite the prayers
of all the angels of the highways.
Those of tear-smeared mascara and heaving cleavages,
I call out to you.

Light a candle to the lonely one.

Protect him,
and when he lies wrecked and bleeding,
somewhere in the middling of life—
lost by the roadside, beside the ribcages of his brethren—
take him to your bosom, comfort him.
Wash his feet and anoint them with Vaseline.

All done with love.
With love.

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In 1989, poet and author DAVID HALENDA began his ten year involvement with the Los Angeles Poverty Dept. A Tony award-winning, community-oriented performance group comprised of the homeless, professional actors and performance artists, the NEA-funded LAPD was and is dedicated to bringing theatre into the lives of those not fortunate enough to be included in our current economy. Mr. Halenda both acted in and directed several hundred performances in the States as well as Amsterdam, Gent, and London.

Mr. Halenda has also performed his works both solo and in collaboration with members of the Sacred Naked Nature Girls, and members of the Butoh group Rinzoku. He has performed on the same bill with Xenene Cervenkova, and in festivals that included the works of Guerrmo Pena and Willem Dafoe.

David has recently completed two novella trilogies, Draw a Crooked Line and The Orphaned Ones, and is busy with koyotl, a novel set in the region along the border of New Mexico and Chihuahua. Mr. Halenda has published short fiction in the literary journal, Owl. The influence of his travels throughout Mexico and Central America, and his years of living in the borderland regions of southern Arizona and New Mexico, is reflected in much of his work.

5 responses to “Prayer Por Los Vagos”

  1. Lorna says:

    Love this!

  2. Rachel Pollon says:

    Really beautiful, felt like I was singing it in my head.

  3. Rebecca Todd says:

    Dave – I was thinking of the past and just googled you on a whim. I kind of figured you’d be making art that turned up somewhere. And I found this poem. Beautiful. I’ll look for your other writings.

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