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Sunday, July 03, 2022


by D. Seth Horton

All-American Canal seen here in Imperial County, California, January 24, 2022. Photo: Matthew Bowler to accompany “Officials doing little as more migrants drown in Imperial County canal,” KPBS, February 8, 2022.

Border Patrol




Canal in Calexico


23 seconds

later not


55 seconds

still struggling



canal's current


Author’s Note: This is a found poem sourced from a recent U.S. Customs and Border Patrol media release. It is part of a larger project on resisting Federal interpretations of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. In terms of composition, I deleted most of the original material until I was left with the poem that had previously been hidden within the bureaucratese.  To be clear, I added no words, punctuation, or capital letters to the body of this poem, nor did I change the original word order in any way.  Instead, I simply erased what was in the way and then moved the words that remained into appropriate line breaks. In case readers are interested in comparing this poem against the original source material, they can click here.

A writer and scholar focused mostly on the borderlands, D. Seth Horton’s work has appeared in more than forty publications, including the Michigan Quarterly Review and Glimmer Train. Two of his stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His latest book is a forthcoming collection of stories set throughout the U.S.-Mexico borderlands entitled On a NASA Flight to Heaven (TCU Press, 2024). Seth currently teaches creative writing and American literature at the University of Virginia.