The barriers between
America and Mexico
are wound
with concertina wire.

Who named those
lethal twists
for music?
for elegant bellows
that welcome supple
hands and breathe
sweet trills.


Troops in the trenches
of WWl were assigned
to wiring parties ––
to unsnarl
barbed wire stashes
and stretch
the jagged spirals
into snares.

Did memories of reels
and tarantellas
wail inside their skulls

to a bloody puppetry
of guts and limbs?

And then
the penny-whistling
of the shells.


Migrants at the border,
families –– emptying
your thoughts of intimacies;
even as your hearts
your feet press on.

You know what it is
to be pushed and pulled
from both sides,
like the concertina.

You carry little
more than your breath
over broken roots
to their razored gates.

Your voices, thin
as the quena’s tremble:
one day they will become

Laurie Koensgen is a poet and culture worker who lives in Ottawa, Canada. Her work appears in Arc Poetry Magazine, Literary Review of Canada, Barren Magazine, Juniper: A Poetry Journal, Kissing Dynamite, Black Bough Poetry, Burning House Press, Nightingale & Sparrow, In/Words Magazine and elsewhere. Her poetry has been featured in gallery installations. Laurie works with the Ottawa International Writers Festival, encouraging poetry writing among middle school students. She’s a founding member of the Ruby Tuesdays poetry collective.