Unholy Triptych for the New Immigrant

women forced to spread
their legs, open their mouths
to coyotes in deserts
inside shipping containers
hooked to Mack Trucks,
husbands and children
torn from them—
your tired your poor

men in safe houses
along the long route
braving borders
starved and beaten
badgered and bullied
berated as bad hombre
drug dealing animals—
yearning to breathe free

child after child dies
of the common flu
sweating shivering
crying themselves to sleep
caged in chain-link pens,
garlic tied to their shoes
to ward off the snakes—
no lamp beside a golden door

Andrena Zawinski’s poetry has received accolades for lyricism, form, spirituality, and social concern. Her latest collection is Landings. Others are Something About (a PEN Oakland Award) and Traveling in Reflected Light (a Kenneth Patchen Prize). Veteran teacher of writing and long-time feminist, she founded and runs the Women’s Poetry Salon in the San Francisco Bay Area and is Features Editor at PoetryMagazine.com

Photography (“A Penny for Your Plans”) by Cyd Peroni