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Song for America XLIII by Fernando Esteban Flores

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Song for America

XLIII

Chickens Among Wolves

1

This will be our trail of tears

Esta será el sendero de nuestras lágrimas

The story we will tell our children

La historia que les diremos a nuestros hijos

Nothing will be left of our passing

Nada quedará de nuestros pasos

Even the tracks of our journey will disappear

Hasta las huellas de nuestra jornada desaparecerán

 

Bodies washed ashore

Water bottles scattered over parched earth

A child’s faded red sneaker a left foot boot curled up

Like a dried tongue strewn about the scrub

Strips of colored cloth caught in the bramble

Like battered flags flopping in defeat

Bleached bones bared by

Wind & weather

Empty backpacks gutted like prey

 

Listen you can almost hear

The frayed voices of the dispossessed

As they prod through dense

Thorny cactus & mesquite

With sweat & dread

Fear the daily bread of their torment

Felt in both directions

Leaving peril behind

Looking ahead for America

Stories of hope of brighter days of better times

Plática—conversation—you’d hear around

The dinner table if you were home

Strangling the silence out here

On the fringes—no man’s land—among

Armed men & cascabeles diamondbacks

A quick stop now run

2

When I get to Chicago my sister says

I can work at her restaurant

When I get to Houston I’ll get a job in construction

I’ll be able to send my kids to school

 

Who am I Quien soy

Who have only known hard work

Scrubbing my life out of existence

For a miserly wage

Mopping sweeping washing the

Scum from other people’s clothes

Collecting their trash cooking their meals

As if I was only born for their convenience

A chicken among wolves

Prey for their pleasure

A beast for all their burdens

 

Constant contradictions

Grow deep & bitter roots in this place

Where so much blood has soiled the soul

Criminals murderers come to steal

Live off welfare what

They always say when they’re

Too are afraid

Of losing their place

 

Who am I Quien soy

Who have only known hard work

Scrubbing my life out of existence

For a miserly wage

Mopping sweeping washing the

Scum from other people’s clothes

Collecting their trash cooking their meals

As if I was only born for their convenience

A chicken among wolves

Prey for their pleasure

A beast for all their burdens

 

Seeking asylum then

Threatening to deport they

Separate children from parents

Confine them in caged pens

Raid places of employment

They snarl growl bark like dogs

‘Go back to where you came from’

 

Go home &

Don’t come back

 

The dream dead

El sueño muerto

 

BIO:  Fernando Esteban Flores is a native son of Tejas, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, published three books of poetry: Ragged Borders, Red Accordion Blues, & BloodSongs available through Hijo del Sol Publishing, published in multiple journals, reviews, newspapers, and online sites, selected in 2018-19 by the Department of Arts & Culture of the City of San Antonio for his poemSong for America V (Yo Soy San Antonio) as one of 30 poems/poets to commemorate the City’s Tricentennial anniversary, and recently named poetry editor of the Catch the Next Journal of Ideas & Pedagogy.

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