by Pa Rock
The following three poems are dedicated to Governor Jan Brewer and the buffoons in the Arizona Legislature who seem to have no idea about how this country was created or what has gone into making it great.
The first selection is Emma Lazarus' classic, The New Colossus, which has served for over a century as the sentiments expressed on the Statue of Liberty. The last five lines have been known and beloved by generations of Americans.
The New Colossus
by Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
The second selection, Push and Pull, was written by John Myers, and is more relevant to today's immigration issue, but still manages to show that the process is normal and eventually these immigrants, no matter how despised by some, will eventually be incorporated into the American melting pot society.
Push and Pull
by John Myers
Like many who came before
From distant corners of the globe
Pushed from home
Hunger, Poverty, War
The United States
Land of Dreams
Pulling those seeking a better life
Offering hope and optimism
To the downtrodden, the desperate
They've come to this New World
For several hundred years now
In crashing waves from different places at different times
Only to face new struggles
In a new land
"They're taking our jobs."
"They're stealing our money."
"They don't want to speak English."
"Send them all back to where they came from."
They've all taken turns bearing the brunt
Eventually each group melds into the giant pot
Becoming a part of a new America
Time and time again
And the wave we have crashing over our shores now
Selection number three, Running to America by Luis Rodriguez, brings the drama and pains of "illegal" immigration right down to street level. If this poem sounds familiar, it may be because I used in in The Ramble in March 2009.
Running to America
by Luis Rodriguez
They are night shadows violating borders,
fingers curled through chain-link fences,
hiding from infra-red eyes, dodging 30-30 bullets.
They leave familiar smells, warmth and sounds
as ancient as the trampled stones.
Running to America.
There is a woman in her finest border-crossing wear:
A purple blouse from an older sister,
a pair of worn shoes from a church bazaar,
a tattered coat from a former lover.
There is a child dressed in black,
fear sparkling from dark Indian eyes,
clinging to a headless Barbie doll.
And the men, some hardened, quiet,
others young and loud - you see something
like this in prisons. Soon they will cross
on their bellies, kissing the black earth,
then run to America.
Strange Voices whisper behind garbage cans,
beneath freeway passes, next to broken bottles.
The spatter of words, textured and multi-colored,
They must run to America.
Their skin, color of earth, is a brand
for all the great ranchers, for the killing floors
on Soto Street and as slaughter
for the garment row. Still they come:
A hungry people have no country.
Their tears are the grease of the bobbing machines
that rip into cloth
that make clothes
that keep you warm.
They have endured the sun's stranglehold,
el cortito, foundry heats and dark caves
of mines swallowing men.
Still they come, wandering bravely
through the thickness of this strange land's
Their cries are singed with the fires of hope.
Their babies are born with a lion
in their hearts.
Who can confine them?
Who can tell them
which lines never to cross?
For the green rivers, for their looted gold,
escaping the blood of a land
that threatens to drown them,
they have come,
running to America.
The United States is a nation of immigrants, and it is that diversity that makes us strong. We are an inclusive society that recognizes that everyone is capable of bringing something of value to society. Arizona, on the other hand, sees strength in keeping its culture pure, vainly hoping that social in-breeding will prove to be a strength. It won't.