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Saturday, November 03, 2018


by Peter Nohrnberg

HOUSTON (AP, October 27, 2018) — Militia groups and far-right activists are raising money and announcing plans to head to the Mexican border to help stop the caravan of Central Americans, echoing President Donald Trump’s attacks on the migrants making their way toward the U.S. Exactly how many militia members will turn out is unclear, and as of Friday, the caravan of about 4,000 people was still some 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) and weeks away from reaching this country. But the prospect of armed civilians at the border — and the escalating political rhetoric over immigration — have fueled fears of vigilantism at a time when tensions are already running high because of the mail bomb attacks against some of Trump’s critics. The U.S. Border Patrol this week warned local landowners in Texas that it expects “possible armed civilians” to come onto their property because of the caravan. Photo: Volunteers from the Minutemen militia say they will be positioned along the U.S.-Mexico border to help stop migrants from entering the country illegally. (Jeff Topping / Getty Images)

It’s nearly sun-down, and I’ve been walking out here
All day with my binoculars, walkie-talkie and beer.
Today I pulled in just a father and his teenage son, but
some days I’ll see a van with blacked-out windows
And notice its tires flattened on the pavement and know
I’ve hit the motherlode, with seven or eight muchachos in it.
The way I see things, I’m not just keeping watch over
Our homeland but I’m also doing them a big favor,
Though I don’t suppose they’d see it that way
Even when I find them in the late hours of the day
half mad with thirst, shoeless in the scrub grass.
In truth I feel bad for them, knowing that they’ve tossed
Their savings to some snake who says he’ll get them across
no problem, walking over rattlesnakes. But who knows
the things they might be trying to smuggle in in all those
baskets they carry on them—maybe cocaine or marijuana,
or orders from Al Qaida or rabid Chihuahuas or God knows what!
Mostly you track them by the trash they leave behind:
broken glass and plastic bottles, dirty diapers and orange rinds.
I give them a sip of agua and put them in the truck to take them back
across the border, though where that is ain’t always so easy to tell
with nothing but yucca spread out across the land. Sometimes
there’s no telling where our country starts. The fence will serve
us on that front, but I doubt it will do any better than me
and my fellow minutemen in keeping out illegals.
A two-thousand mile chicken-wire run, Ed calls it.
I suppose it makes the Congressmen in Washington think
they’re doing something, spending the taxpayers’ dollars. Shit,
they don’t know a thing about life out here in West Texas
where the fill-up stations that sell cold beer are few and far between
or the little border towns where the food is good, hot and cheap.
In Marfa the pretty brown-eyed women put wild flowers in their hair
and everything’s in Spanglish . . .  What I need’s another drink.
The jokers on the nightly news announce that one in three
sneaks by, but what I say is for each one that we catch
an American keeps his day job. Hell, I’ll likely lose mine
if I don’t remember to throw these empties out the truck.
Did I say this ain’t the first time I’ve caught those two amigos?
Damn it’s getting late. I can hardly see to take a leak.
I guess I’ll stay and watch the Texas sky fill up with stars and UFOs.

Peter Nohrnberg is a scholar, poet, and father of two children. He lives in Cambridge, MA, where he served as “Poetry Ambassador” to the city last year.