Some round other humans up,
Guns drawn, northern on southern,
Pale on darker, older on young,
More men on more women and girls,
Some in boots marching the barefooted
Through those cage doors—here come
The Americans, in their shining
Badges and Betsy Ross shoulder patches,
Prodding their shabbier cousins, muzzles
In chests bellies and backs, such
Shaming welcome they shame themselves
But don’t see it that way. I think
The ones with guns and orders to fill
The pens feel they’re the real people,
Not those lean strays who graze north
From whatever trouble they’ve made.
Oh, but take these upholders down
To skivvies and skin, no belts, holsters,
Uniforms or merit pins, leave them
Out in the sun a few weeks—let’s see
If we can tell which bunch is the real
Americans. Who’ll look like they need
Rounding up then? Or a shower,
A simple meal, a safe bed.
Jed Myers is author of Watching the Perseids, The Marriage of Space and Time, and four chapbooks. Recognitions include The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Prize and The Tishman Review’s Millay Prize. Poems appear in Rattle, Poetry Northwest, The American Journal of Poetry, Terrain,org, Solstice, and elsewhere.
Photo by CBP.