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Wednesday, May 22, 2019


by Jan Steckel

A 16-year-old boy died Monday at a Border Patrol station in Texas, becoming the fifth child from Guatemala to die since December after being apprehended by US border patrol agents. —Yahoo! News, May 21, 2019. Photo: People hold a vigil for migrants who have died, have been detained and deported by US authorities, near the US-Mexico border fence in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, on May 3, 2019 (AFP Photo/Guillermo Arias via Yahoo! News).

With the name, they release
a face, a family, a story,
but not a living child.

Five dead kids in five months.
Only half the migrants
are from Guatemala,

but all the dead children are.
What are the odds?
(1/2)5 or 1 out of 32.

Are they sicker?
Poorer? More fragile?
Indigenous? Dark?

Did they beg
in Mayan tongues,
so pleas were ignored?

In the hospital.
In the ICU.
Alone in his cell.

Pneumonia. Influenza.
She died of a fever,
and no one could save her.

By Stephen Miller’s bed,
small ghosts cry
for their mothers.

Jan Steckel is a former pediatrician who stopped practicing medicine because of chronic pain. Her latest poetry book Like Flesh Covers Bone (Zeitgeist Press, December 2018) is a finalist for poetry in the Bi Book Awards. Her poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award. Her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and poetry chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) also won awards. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Bellevue Literary Review, TheNewVerse.News, November 3 Club, Assaracus and elsewhere.