Journalism In Verse

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A National Monument Crosses Over to Canada

in World by

“Fuhgeddaboutit,” mother of exiles
muttered, rolling thirty-inch eyes.
Dropped her torch, hiked her skirts,
stepped over to Jersey. With her stride,
three hours to Niagara Falls, Canadian side.    

Seidu Mohammed had a rougher trip. In a ten-hour
slog north from North Dakota, in snow waist-high,
frostbite took his fingers off. He feared deportation
from Minnesota to Ghana, where, because he loves
both men and women, they’d kill him. Thin gloves.

“God blessed Canada with good people,” he said,
refugee from the land of the free, land I once loved.

Since when are we the people others must escape?

So it’s no wonder “Liberty Enlightening the World” —
her full name — could no longer bear the inscription
asking for homeless and poor masses.  She turned
her francophone sneer and her back to hypocrisy,
headed up Belleville Avenue, past Parsippany,

over the Poconos, across the Southern Tier,
into the embrace of the wise Justin Trudeau,
who tweets love, and “diversity is our strength,”
hashtag WelcomeToCanada, we have more Sikhs
in our cabinet than India does. We don’t do sweeps.

An empty granite pedestal in Upper New York Bay.
Since when are we the people others must escape?


Read More:
Desperate immigrants risk perilous winter trek to Canada [New York Times]

Tina Kelley’s third poetry collection, Abloom and Awry, comes out in April from CavanKerry Press, joining Precise (Word Press), and The Gospel of Galore, winner of a 2003 Washington State Book Award. She co-authored Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope, and reported for The New York Times for ten years, sharing in a Pulitzer for 9/11 coverage. Her writing has appeared in Poetry East, Southwest Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Best American Poetry 2009. She won the 2014 New Jersey Poets Prize, and lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children.

Image via Ana Paula Hirama on Flickr.

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