Monday, 8 January 2018

How Long, America?

How long we gonna play this game
Like there's more than one America?
How long are we gonna send people home
To the streets?
How long we gonna keep exporting
Violence, extortion, corruption and gangs?
How much we gonna pay in the factories?

Ensenada T-shirts the factory pays 90 pesos a day that's less than
Five bucks a day just an hour and a half cross the border
(And we talk about $15 an hour as a just wage)
And the Governor of Baja Sur is talking to the farm workers
From Oaxaca, says get back to work
If not you'll get deported

How long we gonna deny
That this is our mess?
How long we gonna build walls on the lines
In our heads?
How long will we say that it's "free and fair trade"
For trickle-up profits to keep workers enslaved
The corporations come in, they have free reign
They buy the elections and they own the terrain

I have this friend who rode the train all the way
From Honduras as a teen
Just following that money stream
No capital, no money, and death in the streets

I met this girl in Guatemala, she was cute as could be
Unfortunately some gangster, he thought the same thing
Asked her to be his he said please
And when she said no he shot out her face
She was fifteen
You know where street gangs started? 
Good old LA.

In Mexico City, this girl shows up she's been raped
The coyotes said "this is Texas" and left her on the street
She paid 3 years' wages to come to the States

And there were so many people I met in the 
Soup kitchen in Guate
Who had just been deported

This system kills people.
This system destroys families.

The best Americans I know are illegals
They work hard, they invest,
They sacrifice for their families

This is how it works:
The gringos sell the guns and buy the cocaine
Wal-Mart pays the bribes and corrupts the state
California deports the Dieciochos and MS13
And Americans hire illegal so they keep on coming
It's simple supply and demand, baby.

We want everything we want; we want it cheap
Law and human cost be damned, it's for the money
Economic growth is a lie if the people don't have a stake
And that's hard to have when your country is ruled by
 8 families

I'm an American citizen
But I ain't earned it,
If we're going to treat countries like colonies
They are citizens the same
And if Dole and Chiquita and Firestone gonna run countries
If they're gonna bully nations to get paid
Well, than who am I to blame their citizens for running away
Who invaded who?
The Marine Corps has toured every place here to Panama
And that's not to mention the thugs from the old CIA
But its unjust businesses who run the extortion ring
And mega-corporations shout out free trade
Because they are making a killing exploiting the weak
That's not to mention US farm subsidies

So tell me, what's a living wage?  
How much are you worth?
I guess that depends on your passport.

How long we gonna play this game
Like there's more than one America?
How long are we gonna send people home
To the streets?
How long we gonna keep dumping the surplus
Of our gluttony on our neighbors' fragile economies?

Look I know one thing:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
America can be proud, she's a good neighbor to
Countries that are far away,
But if you think the United States is or was great
You obviously haven't read Central American History.

I look around, and I see Americans.
Somos Americanos,
And we're all in this shit juntos, waist-deep
And you know, the rich families in Guate, they build their
Walls bigger and bigger and put broken glass on top,
They send their kids to private schools
Because they want to keep out the city that's outside their gates
And the racist Estadounidenses are doing the exact same thing
But everything just perpetuates and nothing will change

Until we all, rich and poor,
Take some pride in our city
Our continent, our people,
Nuestra América,
And we tear down the walls
Break monopolies and the "too-bigs"
And the people are free

I'm an American citizen
And I believe every person from here to Panama
Has earned that right in blood
You can't treat countries like slaves
You can't say we're not the same.

You wallies,
You should be afraid, but not of Latinos
You know there's a cure for that fear, it's called Spanish class
No you shouldn't be afraid of poor people
You should be afraid of justice, that America, one day will pay
Do you think God doesn't hear the cries of the mother deported away from her children?
Do you think God doesn't hear the cries of the worker denied his wages?
Do you think God doesn't hear the cries of the exploited?
Do you think God doesn't hear the cries of the poor?
And to the Donald Trumps, to the ones who feed off of racist fear
Who stir up hatred to get a response
Who manipulate with stereotype and hate
Your fall will be swift and you will be judged 
With the same measure you extended to those outside the system
Thus says the Lord

How long we gonna play this game
Like there's more than one America?
How long are we gonna send people home
To the streets?
How long we gonna keep exporting
Violence, extortion, corruption and gangs?
How much we gonna pay in the factories?

In response to this:

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Bellas Artes

I went to the museum
I rode the metro
And admired all of the fine arts:
The art of walking
The technique of sitting
The beauty of a yawn
Harmonied laughter
Lines of colour
Curling smoothly beneath laughing eyes
There are brushstrokes
In the arcs of walking feet
The swish of jeans
Falling waves of falling hair
And the way we position ourselves
Around each other on the train
Beauty and desperation
Splashes of red and blue
The shade and shape
Of a nose or cheekbone.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

The First Heaven: Oklahoma Storm

The peace opens when the winds
Section drones down to a dull moan
The thunder clap applause rumbles off
Like a freight train
The eye, eyes up, run outside
When-the-alarms-go-off Oklahoma
Feel the West, the weight, the
Breeze of the Rockies, heat of the plains
Lift up your sails
We will build sailboats of popsicle prayer
Sticks with a cross on top
Hoping that You'll take us up
Walking around in this cielo
The first heaven
This wholly ground
Beneath our kicks
Caught up in the rapture, the great
In between
The virga score stretched across
Horizontal lines the tracks
The moan
The hop-a-train temptation let's see
Where we go
We're all the fall leaves
Newspapers flopping around the Metro
Faded headlines dimly calling for
Attentions affections
The silence
Are you not interested in me?
See you not my
Grand humanity?
Or am I past my date of issue?
I fear it
I may fall in love or judge
Or find empathy
I'm a head-on-the-shoulder but also
A shoulder-to-the-plow
Shoulder of the road passing by
No place to rest a( )head
While the storm breathes passion
And barometric pressure
Did we forget it?
Numbing games, numbing jobs
Numbing drugs, numbing loves
Nothing as sweet as the rain on the skin
The dancing lights reflecting on
Slick streets and windshields
It makes my heart pirouette inside me.

Sunday, 22 January 2017


I seem to have forgotten my lines...
Walk with me parallel a while
Pickup perhaps then I'll remember
I have no steady, no gyroscope to keep me up
At night the sleepcycle rides
     circles under my eyes

I haven't decided how to draw us
All of us--everyone we meet--
Intersect at certain points,
Moments of meaning
Millions of points where we touch, hold hands
Share a song, kiss, secret, or glance
Sometimes we run parallel for a time
Walking a bold line through space time
As everything spins we manage to keep step

But it's all temporary
Our made-in-China shoes scuff the graph
     paper as we approach infinity
And what nonsense is that
A closeness, a net?, a communion, or an empty
     space, a universal alone eternity?
I scribble along fast like a polygraph lie as I, trying
     not to forget to breathe
Trying not to veer wildly like my chestbeat
     and double back, cross myself,
My God I've been here before
I was hoping we could tie the knot
But the telephone line was not long enough
You ride along another axis now,
Existing, loving, singing, unseen

I always dreamed of your trajectory
Plotting it out, stoking you to dream
Your truck spiraled out
A flat line, an ellipsis
Of rocks in the desert, memorial gardens

I take pictures
Make five-year plans
See lines in everything:
Handprints, walls, sunsets, trees
Each barcode a stanza,
Every vine and weed draws shapes
And you and me

We part here, branching out like
     family trees approaching infinity
And although like particles we may
     collide, we will never occupy the same
     space and time
At best our lines run tangent
But not yet, I reach
You're out of reach
You're gone
And I'm still writing on writing on moving out past the sea
Living, yes, writing reading speaking moving always moving

Friday, 7 October 2016

She Doesn't Stop Dancing

She doesn't stop dancing
A spin, a smile,
A shuffle,
A plate, an order,
She twirls out
Corner diner
Fast food and pop music on the TV
Red seats with black-starred tables
Simple Döner
But this,
This was ballet
A song on her lips,
A smile on her face
And I wanted to go back to my own
Food service days
The rhythms of orders up
And orders taken
The pulse of work the rush

Friday, 23 September 2016


A text message before bed
I'm trying to share this with you
I wish you were here

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Unemployed (Jobless Immigrant)

This week I applied for a visa to Canada, not my own.
This week
I played my song on Television.
This week I defeated a computer virus.
This week I took photographs for the National Theater's
version of the Mahabharata at a closed premiere for the
Indian ambassador.
I translated for a Finnish band at a concert.
I translated a 57 year-old acrobat's prayer.
I taught poetry to two of my friends.
I invited my friend to lunch
But ended up in a government office
Translating a form together.
I taught English.
I studied Kyrgyz.
I cheered my students as they danced,
Sang my songs in the park with a professional friend,
I wrung out my laundry with my hands.
I played frisbee for television.
I registered four people for an orphan conference.
I pitched names for a new business.
I pitched a film to a sponsor.
I cooked for a crowd.
I recorded songs.
I shared my story with students.
I sang to God with my friends and
I organized a picnic in the foothills beneath the mountains.
I gave relationship advice.
I wrote 10 songs
And a poem.

And I still ain't got no job.