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Wednesday, August 06, 2014


by Dana Yost

SAN ANTONIO — Militia groups along the Texas-Mexico border have grown to more than 10 active "teams" from El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley, despite warnings from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and state lawmakers. More than 30 photos obtained by the San Antonio Express-News show dozens of members carrying semi-automatic rifles and wearing masks, camouflage and tactical gear, providing a first glimpse of the militias. --San Antonio Express-News, August 1, 2014

Now, men here
Mask their faces
With bandannas,
Raise black hoods over their
Heads, and stand beside
One another in the desert,
Semiautomatic rifles
Held at 45-degree angles
Across their chests.
Sentinels, they say,

Now, men here pose
Beside convoys of civilian cars,
Chase down school buses of day campers,
And they look no different
Than the cave rats of Tora Bora,
The festering sores that preen
In little fiefs of Mogadishu,
Or the drug-gang death squads
Of Juarez and Nuevo Laredo.

Now, men here
Mask their faces,
As little girls sleep
In handed-down jeans
On the other side of a wall
In the desert, sing themselves
To sleep with American songs
Learned while hiding
Under floor boards
Or manacled to bed posts
Under rain forest heat.

The good are dying.
The men in masks
And black hoods want to keep me safe,
They say. I'd rather they'd been
In Baghdad, catching shrapnel
Before it split the face
Of my nephew's best friend,
I do not fear
Little children
Who want to sing songs
From our radios.
I do not fear
Little men
Who hide their faces
When they kill.

Dana Yost ended his 29-year career as an award-winning daily newspaper editor in 2008. Since then, he has authored four books. His poems have appeared in several literary journals, and he is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. He has lived in Forest City, Iowa, since 2010.