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Saturday, June 23, 2018


by Robert Knox


Weep not for the family of Márcio Goulart do Nascimiento
who crossed the river for fear of being murdered by the neighborhood drug house
     in Brazil, 

where police told him, 'if you complain
you will be killed.'
For now they are safely jailed in Texas, Marcio and his wife in one place,
his two children somewhere else in the American gulag,
convicted of infringing on the peace and security
of the great Land of Liberty
because, as he himself confessed, "I did not wish us to be killed."

Weep not for Juan Francisco Fuentes Castro, fleeing the violent streets
     of El Salvador,
who sought only, he plead ("may it please the Court")  to bring his children to safety,
for surely they are safe now behind bars.
Some day, perhaps, he will see them again.

Nor weep for poor José de Jesús Días of Mexico,
who fails to understand why the court cannot tell him
where his daughter is.
And so he alone will not accommodate the Court with the obligatory guilty plea
until someone can tell him where in this land of freedom
they have placed her, safe behind bars.

For it is a simple thing, is it not, to declare one's guilt
for wetting one's feet in the sacred waters of Destiny's Dividing Line
in order to preserve the lives of one's own family members?
The Madonna would understand. The Savior would understand.
The judge too sympathizes, but his hands are tied by the bonds of Liberty.
Weep not for José de Jesús Días, for he is patently 'illegal.'
His daughter too is illegal,
but now no doubt safe in a place made of bars and uniforms,
among the tribes of lost children.

Nor let us shed our tears for the sufferings of Elizabeth González Juárez,
who alone among so many, knows where her daughter is.
She crossed the River of Tears from Guanajuato, Mexico,
to protect from harm a three-year-old child, abused by her
drug-dealing father,
and sought the healing Balm of Gilead in the home
of her own mother who dwells among the kind and peace-loving souls
of Fort Worth, Texas.
Alas, the Land of Liberty could spare no refuge for one single infant more
upon a camel's back of three hundred million souls,
and so delivered the child straight into the hands
of her rightful, family-abusing, drug-dealing father.
It is the American Way.

Weep not, I say, for the 17 defendants dispatched by the Court in
an hour-plus session, finishing in time for lunch.
All are guilty.

But in the quiet watches of the night,
lend a thought for a thousand children, and yet a thousand more
(by unofficial count) young minds and hearts below the age of legal consent
ripped from the arms of their parents in a few weeks' time
on the strength of a Liberty-abusing Demonic Decree.
How many more victims, both old and young,
lie in separate hells
among the thousands denied refuge in the Home of the (no longer) Free?

Now is the time for your tears.

Author’s Note: Names and other facts taken from The Guardian.

Boston area writer Robert Knox is a contributing editor for the online poetry journal, Verse-Virtual, in which his poems are regularly published. They have also appeared in journals such as Every Day Poet, Off The Coast, Houseboat, and Yellow Chair Review. His poetry chapbook Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty was published in May 2017. The chapbook Cocktails in the Wild followed this spring.