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Monday, May 05, 2008


On the Cinco de Mayo, 2008

by Carmen Tafolla

Six thousand dollars, Texas courts declared,
a handful of years ago,
and often less
till a Connecticut oilman’s playing-cowboy son got the job of his lifetime.
Finding no one else to blame for billions squandered playing war
he pointed his well-protected rich-boy finger
at a border he had enjoyed only too well
and said, “It’s THEIR fault we haven’t won this war yet.
All those Mexicans crossing that border,
bringing terrorism with them.”
(Then checked real quick behind him to make sure
the ranch hands, cooks, carpenters, and gardeners back home
no longer had their un-papered cousins still among them.)

But now, the price has gone flat bottom.
“Patriots” make speeches to stop evil immigrant kids from attending school,
stop automatic citizenship of all “those” babies born here,
raid places where undocumented workers slave twelve hour days and
round them up, deport them (right before payday), split families apart,
and NEVER let that lady with the torch shine her light
ANYWHERE facing south.
The earthskinned natives of this continent cross snake-infested miles by foot
because there is no legal way to cross if you are poor
And recent European immigrants a century esconced,
screen out the longterm residents eight thousand years upon this land,
whose Mayan ancestors invented the same zero used now to build
a high-tech world where natives of America are
in convenient, carefully evaluated, rationally managed

Carmen Tafolla is one of the most anthologized of Latina writers, whose work has appeared in Southern Exposure, The Pawn Review, The Langdon Review of the Arts, and Cipactli, among others. The author of five books of poetry and numerous children’s works, Tafolla’s new collection of short stories, The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans will be released by Wings Press next month at the International Short Story Conference in Cork, Ireland. In 1999, she was awarded the Art of Peace Award for work supporting peace, justice, and human understanding.