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Sunday, April 06, 2008


by Matthew T. Hummer

“Dios es amor” says the graffiti on corrugated steel
stripped from war ships—sticking
into pacific waters like a ribbed condom
keeping brown Tijuana from green-turfed San Diego .

On the far ridge, a stone, like a gray whale,
rises for air where border patrol,
in white trucks watch the rusting snake.
Men crouch against the barrier, Mexico side,
beneath an improvised shrine—
plastic crate nailed to the steel,
candles burn before the Aztec Virgin.

They wait for dusk—
oil clouds spoil
the heron-blue sky,
tar seizes sunset legs.

Matthew T. Hummer’s daughter uses the word "awkward" in the new fashion--to signify that which her peer group considers to be outside the norm. She is ten and starting to realize the demands of conformity that that age invents. He lectured her because it offended him that his intelligent, creative daughter was using a word loosely, as she has heard it used in school and on the Disney channel, because he wants her to weigh words with a sacred deliberateness. But then he thought that maybe he is just getting old: thirty-four, well-married, well-housed and well-fed, with a teaching job for as long as he wants it. His delusions are falling fast and he is letting go of dreams and starting to embrace basic comforts. He is an American.