Bedtime on Independence Day

This poem uses the golden shovel form, in which the last words of each line, read in order, form a line from a different poem.

In the summer of 2014, thousands of unaccompanied minors crossed Mexico’s border with the United States.

(For Emma Lazarus)

The GOP congressman says we should not give

the impression they can stay. “The coyote left me,”

says Angel (13) “and I walked alone in the desert.” “Your

policies did it.” the president’s enemies say. “They’re tired

and hungry and scared.” says the priest. “They spend your

tax dollars.” says the radio man. “Their homes are poor

and murderous/” says the advocate. “Stay close to your

brother” were Ana’s grandmother’s last words. “Huddled

in detention centers,” the newswoman says, “these masses

are overwhelming.”I don’t fault their yearning,”

says the mayor, “but…” I stop reading to put my kids to

sleep. Their great-grandparents came in steerage. It hurts to breathe

as I watch their faces: drowsy, safe and free.

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