This poem came out of the April 2, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a comment from kelkyag after reading the prompter copy of "Todo lo que Brilla." It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. This poem belongs to the series Los Conquistados.
Quetzalcoatl put on
the flayed skin of Hernán Cortés
and became a man once more.
He drank down the language like wine,
the tangy red-and-gold vowels
and consonants like soft-furred sediment.
He rolled the conquistador's lies
between his lips like fruit seeds
and then spit them back into enemy faces.
He told the Spanish emissaries that
the jungle was full of gold, the land ripe for civilization,
if only they would send more ships, more men.
Hernán Cortés was draped
in the feathers of a bird,
the scales of a serpent.
His tongue was as forked as ever,
but he could no longer speak,
for Quetzalcoatl had swallowed his words.
Now the liar's mouth
was empty of all but spit
and he had no way to warn his people.
The Spanish emissaries shied from the monster
that hissed and whined at the end of its chain,
and did not recognize the conquistador within.
Quetzalcoatl smiled with his new white teeth,
clapped the foreigners on the back with his fine brown hand,
and contemplated the feast to come.
* * *
The series title Los Conquistados means The Conquered.
The poem's title, "En Boca del Mentiroso," comes from this saying:
En boca del mentiroso, lo cierto se hace dudoso.
"In the mouth of a liar, what is certain becomes doubtful."
Once someone has been caught lying, it is hard to believe anything else that person says.
Read about Hernán Cortés and Quetzalcoatl.
Conquistador means "conqueror," and is the term typically used for Spaniards who set out to take over the New World.