Online Texts for Craig White's Literature Courses

Gary Soto

(b. 1952)

Mexicans Begin Jogging

Gary Soto, b. 1952, Fresno CA

Discussion questions: 1. What signs or symbols of assimilation or citizenship appear in the poem? What signs or symbols of resistance to assimilation?

2. What images or symbols of the dominant culture appear?

3. What is the tone of the poem?

Mexicans Begin Jogging


At the factory I worked 

In the fleck of rubber, under the press                       [fleck = spot, speck]

Of an oven yellow with flame,

Until the border patrol opened

Their vans and my boss waved for us to run.                           5

"Over the fence, Soto," he shouted,

And I shouted that I was an American.

"No time for lies," he said, and passes

A dollar in my palm, hurrying me

Through the back door.                                                            10

Since I was on his time, I ran

And became the wag to a short tail of Mexicans--

Ran past the amazed crowds that lined

The street and blurred like photographs, in rain.

I ran from that industrial road to the soft                                    15

Houses where people paled at the turn of an autumn sky.

What could I do but yell vivas                              [viva = "live"; i.e., hurrah]

To baseball, milkshakes, and those sociologists

Who would clock me

As I jog into the next century

On the power of a great, silly grin.                                             20