On Being Human

On Being Human

Right now
Someone is breaking the law:
Sneaking out into the desert
–trespassing private property
cutting through government wire
ingeniously avoiding ICE agents
and roving National Guard units
who stand armed with machine guns and
spit the tobacco juice of disdain—
travelling unnoticed, miles and miles
to leave giant blue water bottles
at discreet locations
where Northbound travelers,
“border crossers”–“ illegal aliens”–
may find them
and drink their fill
and thereby not become so parched
so dehydrated
so overheated
as to die in the dust
(nor so desperate
as to lose faith
in humanity

If you would ask these water-bearers to stop
If you would make them stop
If you would give aid to those who would stop them
If you are the kind of person who would force these guardians
to disown their adopted cousins of the South,
and let them die,
grasping at cacti thorns in the skeleton desert
Then I say it’s you
Who must be stopped.

Perhaps it is you who should be cast out
Into the desert.
Perhaps it is you who are the Alien
In our human midst.

How can we ever feel safe
with the likes of you around?

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Fault Lines, Six months after

Fault Lines–
Six months after—July 12, 2010
The Earth has traveled half way round the Sun
Since the day it shook and sucked them down.
Down and
Everything fell:
Shacks and hovels smashed through sewers;
Palace collapsed like an empty egg shell.
Three hundred thousand, maybe fewer;
Thousands buried, never found.
A nation of souls, searching, searing
Buried in a human hell.
La Terre Tremble.
Have we forgotten what that shaking ground
Revealed for all to see, who cared to look?:
The way the streets filled up with bloated bodies;
The way the troops drove on, and let them cook.
The ‘aid’ delayed,
as if for fear of zombies
Rising from their rubble graves to run–
White eyes blazing bloody memories
of how white masters came and took by gun.
But—as we know—poor Haitians did not riot;
worked to pull their brothers, sisters from the ruins.
Carried those who died, and those who wouldn’t
for a while,
And those who lived.
Gave until they had no more to give.
A hundred miles of broken blister
oozing, live on your TV,
draped in pathos and then charity:
Nightly News
For about a week.  But even then,
If I may ask:
                          Did they let the Haitians speak?
What did the people have to say?
When they look at us what do they see?   
Do you dare to take a peek with me today?
Caught in the sun, the pocked eye turns away.
How much can the blinded stand to see? :
Band-aids slap where barricades should be.
They say there are a dozen cities
With at least a million people each
Lying, waiting, sleeping on a fault line;
Slum-dweller flesh to feed the breach.
For every year the Earth, it shivers
In the endless cold of space;
Quakes and quivers, like an ox whose skin
must knock flies from its face.
The fault is not the moving earth’s
–We know that quakes will come, and even where–
The problem: a crooked scheming class
That crams the poor into the cracks
And stitches them into the seams
Breaking their backs
Letting them choke
Gasping for air–
Stripping them down to their dreams,
Then bare.
There is no plan
No care for the people
except for the juice
that can be squeezed
from their bones
to quench the schemers’ thirst:
Markets pressure
and hearts burst.
(The heads of state remain aloof:
Crisis equals opportunity, after all
Helicopter blades
give the world a roof.
And there’s plenty of sweat to catch, as they fall.)
Outside Port au Prince:
Refugee Cities–
tents made from tarps
Flap on and on,
But only the bugs can fly.
Eyes peer out through the fraying holes;
Fingers point
At jet-liners tearing the sky.
First-class passengers,
Glide overhead,
travelling onto milder climes:
if they look down
between shared clouds,
see nothing
dirty laundry lines.       

 -J. Gallant Ramsey

            Somerville, Massachusetts 

            July 12, 2010

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