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Monday, September 12, 2022


by Keith Gorman

While campaigning at a church, Kari Lake proudly repeats Trump’s comments calling Mexicans, rapists: “They are bringing drugs, They are bringing crime. They are rapists and that’s who’s coming across our border.”   
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) September 10, 2022

Along the rolled steel rails and the ancient Aztec footsteps,
by the parlayed hopes and the junkyard diamonds, old desert
bones and discarded shoes, the ill-commodity of migrant
strife sails north to the sanctuary field:


Over dead sea sands, we call to you,
eyeless, heartless, mouth-less motherland,
some trampled whisper of twisted history’s
ravaged culverts and crusted undertows,
now deaf to our children’s voices.

Yet the scarecrow shadow does not answer,
nor does silence send the familiar shivers
that so often accompany greatness; wherever
freedoms cross and fuchsia thrive, siphoning
the seas to turquoise.


In a creosote-scented San Diego armpit,
Mateo Hernández works twelve-hour shifts, washing
and sorting the green avocados, dividing
the rotten and moldy fruit. When the trucks roll in,
he clobbers the clock… runs lickety-split
to shuffle the stock… wraps his wounds… lies
tick-tock… the boom box calliopes high in the night.


On the Bravo silt by the squatter’s den,
I slept inside your cardboard box;
I levied all my losses.

By the muddy banks at the world’s end,
I prayed below your buzzard rocks;
I kept my Celtic crosses.
To the razor wire of the holding pen,
I hung my dank and dirty sox;
the border guards grew cautious.
Come care, Abuelita, for the band-aid coverings... 
the horse-high dreams… the freight car sufferings.


In the assisting light of the kitchen,
Martina Herrera moves through her world,
folding the floral-printed table napkins into
fluted, origami shapes, carefully
choosing each of the final table placements.

She crushes the green avocados, tasting
sauces from her fingertips. And before
serving the feast, she collects the dirty
kitchenware, wipes out the sink and performs
a ten-second spot check of her housedress.

Even clouds appear formal. And for this,
there must be a code for the godforsaken weeds that
flourish… flowers fading into September without a simple
pledge to the creeping phlox and hollyhocks of Spring.


Once, a young man fell so in love with a dream
that he shot the southern border atop a freight train… 
The Beast, he said… and he slept in his clothes through
the pouring rain… fought low-slung branches, hacking
them away with the hull of his hand… chasing
the arroyos to the promised land.

Keith Gorman is a poet, guitarist, and factory worker living near the foothills of The Great Smokey Mountain National Park in Eastern Tennessee. His poetry has appeared in The California Quarterly Review, The Delta Review, Plainsongs Magazine, Cajun Mutt Press, and Muddy River Poetry Review.