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Monday, January 07, 2019


by Martin Elster

A family of javelinas encounters the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border near the San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona. (Image credit: Matt Clark / Defenders of Wildlife via Stanford Earth)

On a planet in a cosmos far away
there’s a USA that’s not the USA,
edged by a wall so ugly, Cooper’s hawks
and vultures will not perch atop it. Flocks
of bats and buntings ram it, while the turtle
and turkey blink and boggle at that hurdle
whose stainless teeth impale the stratosphere,
whose reach makes creatures prisoners all year.
Poets and meditators often wake
with hearts and kidneys missing. A mistake?
or just a program glitch inside a dream
hammered into heads by the regime
which built that barrier? Not the fiercest gale
nor hurricane nor earthquake can upset it.
Even the butterflies, bees, and beetles dread it.
Jumbo jet or Zeppelin or kite—
none dare traverse it. With the appetite
of a thousand whales, it gulps them in a bite.
When master mountaineers attempt to scale
the wall, they fall, or languish in a jail
with all the rest who waste away inside
a country or a cooler and abide
by the common rules in a cosmos far away
where the USA is not the USA.

Martin Elster, a percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, has poems in numerous journals and anthologies. Honors include co-winner of Rhymezone’s 2016 poetry contest, winner of the Thomas Gray Anniversary Poetry Competition 2014, third place in the SFPA’s 2015 poetry contest, and three Pushcart nominations.