After consulting with my teammates here at Vox Nova, I’ve decided to indulge in a little shameless self-promotion. I have just published a poetry chapbook entitled “thank you for dreaming” with California-based Lummox Press. I describe this book as my response to those people who, during these conflicted times, have held onto their ideals and continued to dream. To my own ancestors and family members, without whom I would not be alive to write these words. To the many women who, despite terrible circumstances, have refused to be silenced. To all those people who acknowledge the truth that political borders are nothing but imaginary lines drawn on a map. To those who feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and comfort the afflicted. Thank you so much. Now, more than ever, this world is needful of your compassion and hope.
I imagine that, seeing the title of this book, most of you will think of DACA and the uncertain situation facing the Dreamers, those immigrants to the US who were brought here as small children and protected under the Obama administration. While some of the poems in the book do touch on my experience working as a volunteer with young newcomers to the US, I actually began writing this book – under that title – over two years ago. The theme is broad, and much of the book is actually a more personal reflection on seeking to be a person of faith in the world we live in today.
If you are interested in learning more about this little book, please take a look at the following link:
Meanwhile, I’d like to share one poem from the book with you.
Mary Comes Down
she was assumed into heaven.
Deathless, she stood on the moon,
was crowned with twelve stars.
But today in Rome I see her
begging outside the stone churches
that hold her statue.
In Jordan she sleeps in a refugee camp,
invites neighbors for tea,
shoots a film of her kids’ pick-up soccer games –
(she’s heard that in the West
they like this sort of thing).
In the San Fernando valley
she bends to harvest grapes,
she cuts garlic and gets half
the wages she was promised.
In Mexico she sells lace
and tells anyone who will listen
that four of her sons
have disappeared from Veracruz.
In Iowa, she sweeps the floor at Walmart
after the other workers have left.
Before this, she worked in a slaughterhouse.
Her task: to kill the male chicks.
She who once deflected
the Plague’s sharpest arrows
now tends to those dying of AIDS
in a Kenyan village.
Sometimes she makes the news
when her raft capsizes on the Mediterranean,
but it goes unnoticed
when she is sold into slavery,
dies in childbirth,
walks for a day to fetch water,
and finds the well dry.
Again and again
her son offers to raise her,
adorn her in royal blue,
a final glorious mystery.
Again and again
she shakes her head,
gives the diadem back,
casts off her mantel
to cover a child.