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Friday, June 30, 2017


by Eric Weil

TOP, FROM LEFT: Xavier Alec Martin, 24; Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25; Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19; Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23. BOTTOM, FROM LEFT: Ngoc Truong Huynh, 25; Noe Hernandez, 26; and Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37. (U.S. Navy via AP via The Washington Post, June 19, 2017.) Their snapshot stories from the AP can be read in The Star-Tribune.

The president disparages immigrants.
My great grandfather Bernat stepped off the boat
about 1880 with no papers, before Ellis Island.
Seven US sailors died when a container ship

T-boned their missile destroyer. Bernat fled
southwest Germany’s pogroms, local tornados
to the future’s hurricane named Holocaust.
Seven sailors bunked in friendly seas. Bernat

sold shoes. The seven ring the watch-bell
of America’s immigrant present and past:
Douglass, Hernandez, Huynh, Martin, Rehm,
Rigsby, Sabayan. Bernat raised a son

drafted for WWI, who raised a son drafted
for WWII, who raised a son whose number
just missed Vietnam. The seven volunteered.
Bernat’s citizenship paper, dated 1885, adorns

our guest room. Photos of the seven line
America’s front pages and will hang
as memorials in seven American homes
while the president disparages immigrants.

Eric Weil teaches at Elizabeth City State University, in North Carolina.  His poems have appeared in journals ranging from American Scholar to Poetry and from Dead Mule to Sow's Ear.