For Mexican Independence Day: Lotería Poetry

By Fanny Garcia
Founding Editor

In honor of the 204th anniversary of “El Grito de Dolores”, the pronunciamiento (declaration) of the Mexican War of Independence by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla from the small town of Dolores near Guanajuato, pLAywriting in the city is proud to provide a few poems inspired by Lotería, the Mexican game of chance, for your reading pleasure . Although the game became a tradition in carnivals and fairs in México, Lotería originated in Italy in the 15th century and was taken to New Spain (now Mexico) in 1769.


The game is composed of 54 cards, each with an accompanying riddle. When the game is played, the caller yells out the name of each card along with the original riddle. If the caller is talented in the art of improvisation, sometimes he or she will come up with their own riddle.

Here’s an example of one of the original riddles printed on the back of each card:

El Diablito (The Little Devil)
Pórtate bien cuatito, si no te lleva el coloradito.
(Behave yourself so that the little red one doesn’t carry you off.)

The artwork on the cards has inspired countless artists to reproduce their bright colorful images as tattoos, paintings, t-shirts, postcards, posters, flyers and many other forms of art.

I took inspiration from the riddles and wrote poetry. Although I was born in Honduras, I lived many years in Chiapas, Mexico, and one of my most vivid memories from childhood is going to carnivals and fairs (usually in honor of one saint or another) in Tuxla Gutierrez with my Mom. Lotería calls were heard everywhere and I fell in love with the brightly colored cards.

Later, while working at East LA Rep, we used the game as a fundraiser for the company. I wrote these poems, printed them on label paper, slapped them on multicolored votive glass candles and they became gifts to give away as prizes. What’s your favorite card? Share which Lotería card you like the most in our comments section. If you are really inspired, pen a poem too and post it!

¡Que Viva Mexico!

¡Y Lotería!

* * *

La Dama Loteria

La Dama

el son
de los tacones
de La Dama
a las seis
de la tarde
sin falta,
y me pregunto
¿A donde va
esa mujer
tan guapa?

* * *

La Luna

The steam from
the taco vendors
dances around
La Luna llena
and fills me
with the promise
of a savory

* * *


La Muerte

La Flaca
es inevitable,
Pero espero
tan solo
un gran amor
antes de conocer
La Muerte.

* * *

LaAranaLa Araña

A veces
las telarañas de
La Araña negra
son buenas
para capturar
mitos y mentiras
de amores
no sinceros

* * *

El Músico

El Músico
me cantó
una canción
de melancolía
como las que cantaba
Pedro Infante
en las películas
que veía.

* * *

Card-12---El-ValienteEl Catrin y El Valiente

El Catrín
me enamore
pero aburrido
lo encontré
y me largue
con El Valiente
mejor y
ese si
me gusto.

* * *

El Borracho

El Borracho
y el tequila
son amigos
para siempre
y desaparecen
cada Viernes
a las siete.

* * *

854e4ac263061a49e8baa8a90b4c7e9bLa Bota

La Bota
del pie izquierdo
piso con
certeza y coraje
todo chisme
que la gente
detrás de mi
cuando pase.

* * *

La Mano

Un buen
te daré con
La Mano
si algún día
me pones
los cuernos con la
de al lado.