Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Migrant Passions

in Immigration by
for Alvaro Enciso

The more money you paid
to the coyote
the less walking there is

Either way,
you’ll walk north
using the towering transmission lines as guides
one axis of the compass pointing
towards the beachhead of your dreams

An artist will come along
sometime after you’ve passed
to pile-drive a crucifix into the ground
marking where you died

All the crosses out here in the sand
are one of a kind, he says
each has its own color and
unique symbol where the pieces of wood cross
and that symbol is just for you

Because you’ll walk north toward Tucson
and maybe you didn’t pay
the extra money that would have
got you some of those wool socks with
carpeting glued to the soles,
so you can shuffle away the footprints as
you walk

and maybe the Border Patrol
who drag these dirt roads with a metal grate, like
the guy dragging the infield before the ball game,
maybe they’ll return later to look for footprints:

and those prints are the first and last
recordings of your presence,
that you existed here, for a time

Maybe you’ll evade the nightly patrols
the first hundred miles of the Frontera
moving slowly into the interior

maybe you’ll evade ICE
they are always lurking
especially at night

but the rattlers come out at night, too
as the blisters cool and become open wounds
where the needles of Jumping chollas found your skin
a few days ago

And the next day or the day after
you’ll sit under a tree or creosote bush
just to rest for a moment
and that’s how they’ll find you, like
the artist says, sitting under a tree

if they find you at all:
after two weeks, there’s nothing left of
you but tattered denim in the sand

But if the artist finds you
the cross will take your place here:
the vertical piece was your journey north and
the horizontal one, your prostrate body,
finally getting the rest it needs

And when the patrolman from some Agency
stumbles across what remains
they might notice the unaffected sadness coming
through the tightened, desiccated skin on
your face, and the vacant eyes, if they’re still there,
which seem to say
to whomever affixes to their gaze

why have you forsaken me?



Steve Karamitros is an urban planner. His poems and short stories focus on the bizarre and irrational forces that animate society and what we call ‘nature.’ His poems have appeared in Poetry Quarterly, Burningword Literary Journal, and Poets Reading the News. His fiction has appeared in Night Picnic Journal.

Photo by Alvaro Enciso.


Meet Alvaro Enciso, the Artist Placing Crosses in Sonoran Desert to Memorialize Migrant Deaths
[Democracy Now]

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