If “crucified” means one has died
on the cross, then what is the word
in English for dying at the crossing
between countries? What word describes
when a brown woman’s dreams of being
something like a white man are killed
at the intersection between his dreamt-up borders
and his dream-come-true border patrol?
“White man” like dead men printed
or minted on money more valuable
than the pesos in her purse.
“White man” like gods on horseback come
to conquer their India after reading
a mistaken map. “White man” like the grace
of misinterpreted omens turned
into a chance for vicious attack.
“White man” like buying but outlawing
cocaine to catch the “brown man” in the crossfire
of its trade. “White man” like picket fences
in award-winning films
about the privilege of being “so over”
privilege that he yearns
for something “real.”
Something there is that loves
a wall, that builds a boundary, that calls
the structure “love of country.”
Something there is that kills those who trespass.
Something there is that buries
bodies at a border as foundation stones
for yet another wall. But something there is that doesn’t love
fathers saying “good fences make good neighbors.”
Something doesn’t love a Man carving up
a continent and its people to make a new world
in the image of old words like the name of god
instead of new words like the name of one’s own desires
to divide life into here and after by crossing an ocean
as if it were the pearly gates. O, Amerikkka,
if anywhere there are limits are beginnings and ends,
then Heaven has to be a nothing
loving a something loving its everything;
then life or country and its borders
ain’t nothing but a thing.
After Robert Frost
Phantom feet in pure white cotton tube socks
smash her black face in the photographs.
The photos are in full color, you can tell by
the green in the gray shadows cast by the legs
treating her face as if it’s un balón de futbol.
Her soccer ball-tough face withstands
the pressure of feet on her mouth,
stretching her smile.
Perhaps this is how all things are made.
Intimacy, a kind of kick in the mouth,
the resulting birth of words just as stressful
to the body as was their conception. Nature’s virtues,
as violent as its vices, give her lips pretty
bruises or a thousand words for “beauty”
in this series of blanco on black photographs.
Darrel Alejandro Holnes is the co-author of PRIME: Poetry & Conversations, the co-editor of Happiness, The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry in honour of the International Day of Happiness. His poetry has been featured Poetry Magazine, Callaloo, Best American Experimental Writing, Day One, and elsewhere in print and online. He teaches at New York University and works with writers at the United Nations.