immigration, living



by Carmen H Gray

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(art by children, ages 10 and 11, while staying at a respite center run by the Catholic church in McAllen, Texas)

70,000 is a neat number

Rounded up for sixty-nine thousand and something beyond fifty

Easily divisible by two

Until you keep dividing in half

Eventually you reach fractions of a whole

Those shards of whole parts

Are not just numbers

They are fractured pieces of a person’s soul

Disturbances in family fault lines

That refuse to lay dormant

You can see it in the drawings of the children

Who are crying, ¿Dónde está mi mamá?”

And in the exanimated eyes

That can no longer produce tears

Those quashed emotions inhabit

An exponential fallout

From this tidy number




by Carmen H Gray

What is this place?

Seized from its tribal roots

Built on the backs of African slaves

Japanese Railroad workers

Irish street and sewer laborers

Mexican laundresses and servants

Wealthy babes nursing at the breasts of slaves

An amalgamation of colors, languages, foods, beliefs

Founding Fathers my ass

America was not lost

Therefore, it could not be found

Thus, we are still becoming

US of Another



I think we’ve lied so much to ourselves from the beginning that the lies have become commonplace and now, like the Emperor’s New Clothes, they stand naked before us all. And yet, there are those who still pretend not to see things that are there before our very eyes. That is the sum of my thoughts on America right now.

“Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again! “-Langston Hughes