Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The America I Fear

The America I Fear (a poem in progress)

In the America I fear, a woman seeking shelter from partner violence is shackled by the state, detained for expedited removal.

In the America I fear, a mom is pulled from her car, even though she was not the one they were looking for. She’s sent back to Mexico in shackles, her daughters left to fend for themselves.

In the America I fear, we better have our papers in order. They’ll line us up for secondary screening; they’ll take our phones. Are we still welcome in America if we criticize it on Facebook?

America I fear is showing its teeth. Immigrants retreat now to the shadows; the tomatoes we hoped they would pick for us are rotting on the vines, a sticky mess and a sign of lives wasted and families torn.

America, I’m afraid our righteous anger, our protests and our lawsuits can’t stop this; they have the force of law on their side. In the America I fear, they’ll make the laws they want to enforce.

In the America I fear, immigrants will be told to keep their heads down, mouths shut, or bad things could happen. I fear we’ll let this happen. (It occurs to me that I am America, Allen Ginsberg once said.)

In the America I fear, our President speaks of “taking the shackles off” Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They are now free to put millions of immigrants in shackles.

In the America I fear, shackles will be a winning strategy, just as they were once before. Remember when the teeth of their attack dogs were directed at black folks. Today, like Langston Hughes, I too am the darker brother, and I too, sing America. (And fear it.)

In the America I fear, shackles will be a winning strategy at the polls. The immigrants who have been disappeared weren’t voters. Their disappearance will be invisible to many. Celebrated by some.

In the America I fear, all this is televised, all this is televised, all this is televised—and the ratings are through the roof. The America I fear is happening live. The America I fear is already here.

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