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Las Doce de La Noche

He spends the evening carrying
Boxes and loads until it’s almost tomorrow
Feeding the machine

with paper, that cuts him. Listening
to the loudness of the machines and the bosses, who
waltz around doing nothing.

This is how he pays the bills: hour
by hour, for a paycheck at the end of the week.
Overtime is something he depends on to

make ends meet—the tiring noise
leaves with its head pounding
screams. When eleven thirty rolls around,

When there’s nadie left on
the highway and the last persona
drags himself out of la fabrica,

he closes the door to his car, rubs
his calloused, arthritic hands—reaches into his pocket—
chews a piece of gum

to stay awake.
It helps him forget about the knot building up on his
knee. The one

que se traba when he works too much. Pérez Prado
blares mambo from the car radio. He makes a list of
things to do with the paycheck he just
received:groceries, clothes for Hugo,

la renta. He’ll have to work the weekend
as usual to buy Christmas presents, then for the rest
of his life para pagar la casa.

It’s late when he gets home
and the only one awake to greet him is
su hija que esta estudiando.

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