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Tuesday, September 17, 2019


by Joanne Godley

The United Nations refugee convention of 1951 provides the basis for American asylum laws. Unlike the Trump plan, it does not prevent refugees from traveling through several countries before landing in the United States and seeking asylum. But it does ban signatories to the convention, like the United States, from deporting asylum seekers to countries where their safety is at risk, a process formally known as “refoulement.” —The New York Times, September 14, 2019. Photo: Members of a migrant caravan made up mostly of Hondurans and Cubans resting in the town plaza of Escuintla, Chiapas, Mexico, in April.Credit: Brett Gundlock for The New York Times.

put the word out  on the street    we’re out of asylum         finished      weʻre not stocking asylum this season    there’ll be no safe harbor here    if you were looking for justice / equality / a listening hand / freedom from persecution     we used to carry all those things but no more
asylum was way too popular!     everybody wanted it!   we couldn’t keep it on the shelves    it got out of hand     anyway we won’t be offering asylum under this current management
you ask—is there anywhere  you can go to  get some asylum these days? under the table? you’d pay above market price?  you say  you just want a whiff?  well   you might try our neighbor to the  north—they may have a small amount of vintage asylum  left         i wouldn’t advise trying our southern neighbor    they’re liable to tell you “si, como no    asylum”  then try and  interest you in  some AR-15s smuggled from here to there

Joanne Godley is a practicing physician and poet whose work has appeared in the anthology 50/50: Poems and Translations by Women over Fifty and the Kenyon Review blog. She lives in Maine.