No Peace, No Freedom for Immigrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers

   

Several ILNH activists participated in protests against the treatment of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In the photos, Indivizzies Susan Shapiro and Terry Rice stand with other protesters at the Elizabeth (NJ) Detention Center. 

Headline News: Man and Daughter Drown in the Rio Grande Trying to Reach America 

Red, White and BlueJohn Smith

  • In the photograph she wears red pants; 
  • her father, blue shorts. Their skin’s white 
  • but not as white as the white on our flag.
  • She is snuggled tight under the back 
  • of Daddy’s black T-shirt as if in a sling-pouch,
  • one arm slung around his neck, 
  • her stubby fingers tangled in the wet weeds 
  • of his hair, both of them afloat face down 
  • in muddy water, their limp bodies run aground 
  • too late. Either she held on even after 
  • he thrashed, spasmed, bucked like a terrified bull, 
  • then went slack; or she would not let go
  • while he slapped water, one exhausted arm 
  • after the other, the distant shore 
  • inching closer. She held tight and squirmed,
  • kicked, cried out for her mother then stopped 
  • and sagged heavy as a backpack full of stone. 
  • What if he had to bear her dead weight 
  • until his lungs burst into flames, 
  • and he breathed the river in 
  • to stop the burning, then sank? 
  • Who can imagine such suffering,
  • such desperation that risking 
  • the Rio Grande was the best option 
  • to begin with? I heard someone say, 
  • At least she won’t be separated 
  • from her father and caged 
  • in a concentration camp.
  • Is that what’s left of mercy 
  • in this country? Is our compassion 
  • so limited that callous sarcasm 
  • is all we have to offer? Do we just sigh
  • and rant online for a couple days 
  • then forget about a daughter’s arm 
  • wrapped around her father’s neck,
  • hanging on to the only hope she knew
  • drowning in the dream of America? 

John Smith has published poetry in numerous literary journals. His book, Even That Indigo, is available on Amazon. John lives in Frenchtown, NJ with the henna artist/calligrapher, Catherine Lent.

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