Wednesday, August 18, 2010

2 Poems relating to immigration in different ways

A friend asked my opinion on illegal immigration - at this time I have only a few posts on the topic of immigration and I thought I would add these poems to the list. All of my posts address very specific narrow points within in the subject of immigration and are not conclusions but more points to to mull over.

The first poem points to the irony that the children of immigrants - us - now seem so willing to say - 'go away.' The sentiment 'give me your tired and your poor' is really on the rocks these days.... The argument is a bit of a strawman really though, as always some were rejected, and many were reviled. Getting in was not assured in the days of Ellis Island either nor was being welcomed.

the get away

a locked gate waiting.
Socked-in, Statute of Liberty's
harbor gone grey
Ellis Island, your sentimental
push-button displays,
sepa-toned icons, a memory
of distance and desperation,
clutched burlap bundles, dented
suitcases, hand-written name tags,
befuddled seekers, almost home.
Now, you welcome
only tourists. Neon bloodies
your halls of remembrance:
no-vacancy - no-vacancy - no-vacancy

The children of the children
of the formerly oppressed
want to seal the borders
with invisible force-fields
with infallible alien-detection devices
and declare:

So, take back your tired and your
poor, your huddled masses yearning
Give them a cell
with room service, limited menu
meticulously kept steel bunks.
Stop - Pack up
Fold your love of freedom,
tuck it in. Fold your sweat up
with your dreams. Forget
about your son in Cincinnati.
Do not pass Do not collect
Go directly Go back
- Mar "Mistryel" Walker,  published in A First Tuesday in Wilton Anthology, 2005 

This second poem contrasts two war widows who visit "the wall," (the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. - but one of them settled here after the war ended.

The Price of a Welcome Mat in Freedom Land
A soldiers wife revisits the wall of war
runs her fingers down stone
panels of chiseled names
a melancholy Braille
searches 'til she reaches his name
her long remembered mantra.
"where are you now?" she asks.

Another soldiers wife, an immigrant,
trembles at the long black wall
with its bunting of flag
studies the endless names
tries to remember their young faces
smeared with dirt, mouths grim.
"Was it you with the hand grenades
was it you with the flame thrower?" she wisphers.
"Were you the one who burned my mother's house
and sent my beloved to a nameless grave?"

She thinks of their son
in college in New York City
She thinks of her job, her apartment,
sighs ambivalent.
- Mar "Mistryel" Walker, published in X Magazine March 2003   
(note this poem is not in the X mag's webarchive  probably because I forgot to send in an authors bio, so  when they uploaded the poems, they probably checked to see that all their listed authors were loaded. But I am not listed in the author section since I forgot the bio. But the poem was in the physical actual magazine. I have a copy..... Let that be a lesson. Send in bios when asked....!!!!)