Journalism In Verse

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What Was His Name?

in Politics by

What was his name?
That man who hung himself
in a Texas jail
in a padded cell,
arrested for dreaming
of a new and better life
for his three-year-old son
and now this is an actual quote
from the Washington Post:
They had to use physical force
to take the child out of his hands.
Everyone is complicit,
even the god damn Post.
Who’s kidding whom?
Who wouldn’t go mad?
Seeing your three-year-old child
also locked up,
in a mean kind of cage.
Yes, he who saw his wife,
yes, he who saw his mother
forcibly restrained,
torn away,
wrenched apart.
She saw her husband
handcuffed and shackled
her wild eyes commanding
with unsilent lips.
What madness,
what suffering,
this mother of all exiles—
whole damned families
tempest-tossed,
reason lost
on our wretched shores.

Don’t kid yourself,
you’d go mad,
the torture of not knowing—
it kills. I know that feeling. I’ve felt it,
spirit-body broken,
shattered when you see
your child reach out
out of reach.
You would do anything
but you’re powerless.
Their guns, their chains,
their multitudinous bodies
uniform, all the same
armed cold faces
pinning you to the filthy earth
but you will always see her eyes
full of tears
her throat
full of screams.
Such a sight breaks a person,
strips them naked,
leaves nothing but despair
bottomless
and for what?
Not for crimes of violence
nor acts of terror,
not for stealing food,
nor shelter,
nor even a job.
For yearning to breathe free,
for hoping to build a better life,
for suffering in plain sight,
for crossing what seemed
a million miles or more.
Now your child’s ripped away,
your husband or wife in cuffs.
It would break you, as it breaks me,
sobbing, weeping, raging
against the injustice.

Honduras
U.S., the frightful fearful sight.
Them, the original banana republic
we built, we broke, we own this.
Gringo bullies spent millions, even billions,
destroying their country, their lives,
their past, present, and future.
Like so many others
we stole both their good soil and hope
till there was nowhere left to go
but to the so-called golden shore
where the guns and bombs come from,
where all the money went,
where out-of-date myths claim
anyone could become someone here.
They came so far, got so close,
all the way to Granjeno, Texas.
Even the name is Spanish,
meaning dense spiny bush
full of edible berries.
It was once a part
of the great Mexican empire
before we stole it, too,
at gunpoint.

You know him, you saw his photo
like those children washed up
in their bright new clothes
laying face-down, dead on the shore.
For a brief moment he was the news,
not just here but everywhere.
Then we forgot him, his name, his pain.
Like him, we were overwhelmed,
crushed by the onslaught,
the relentless slaying blows
that seem to never slow.
His name was Marco Antonio Muñoz.
He was 39.
Don’t tell me you can’t understand
why he chose to take his life.
We are all complicit.

 


READ MORE

Honduran man seeking asylum commits suicide after separation from family [Colorlines]
A family was separated at the border, and this distraught father took his own life [Washington Post]
Trump’s cruel border policy created a needless crisis. It’s far from over [The Guardian]


An ink stained wretch, Fred Dodsworth spent most of the last 30 years in newsrooms picking fights. The truth is a slippery bastard and he lost most of those fights. Now he writes poetry and fiction because there’s more truth to be found in fiction than in any news story ever printed.

Marco Antonio Muñoz, seen above in a handout photo from the Starr County Sheriff’s Office, was found dead in his jail cell May 13. (Starr County Sheriff’s Office/Starr County Sheriff’s Office)

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