April 9, 2018

Second Attempt Crossing, by Javier Zamora

A poem today by Javier Zamora, whose poems about immigration, refugees, and exiles hit a nerve like few others!

This poem is from the Nov 2016 issue of Poetry magazine. You can also listen to a podcast where the magazine's editors discuss the poem.

Second Attempt Crossing

by Javier Zamora

For Chino
In the middle of that desert that didn’t look like sand
and sand only,
in the middle of those acacias, whiptails, and coyotes, someone yelled
“¡La Migra!” and everyone ran.
In that dried creek where 40 of us slept, we turned to each other
and you flew from my side in the dirt.

Black-throated sparrows and dawn
hitting the tops of mesquites,
beautifully. Against the herd of legs,

you sprinted back toward me,
I jumped on your shoulders,
and we ran from the white trucks. It was then the gun
ready to press its index.

I said, “freeze, Chino, ¡pará por favor!”

So I wouldn’t touch their legs that kicked you,
you pushed me under your chest,
and I’ve never thanked you.

Beautiful Chino — 

the only name I know to call you by — 
farewell your tattooed chest:
the M, the S, the 13. Farewell
the phone number you gave me
when you went east to Virginia,
and I went west to San Francisco.

You called twice a month,
then your cousin said the gang you ran from
in San Salvador
found you in Alexandria. Farewell
your brown arms that shielded me then,
that shield me now, from La Migra.
About the poetJavier Zamora was born in the small El Salvadoran coastal fishing town of La Herradura and immigrated to the United States at the age of nine, joining his parents in California. He earned a BA at the University of California-Berkeley and an MFA at New York University and is a 2016-2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. ...  In his poems, Zamora often engages history, borders, and memory. In a 2014 interview with Paula Beete for the National Endowment for the Arts Art Works Blog, Zamora stated, “[Poetry] matters because there's a history of all the poets who have risked their lives [to write]. I think in the United States we forget that writing and carrying that banner of ‘being a poet’ is tied into a long history of people that have literally risked [their lives] and died to write those words.”

(Photograph by Monica Sok)

Zamora's honors include a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, an Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship in Creative Writing at Colgate University, a CantoMundo fellowship, scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, a 2016 Barnes and Noble Writer for Writer’s Award, and a Meridian Editors’ Prize. He was also a recipient of a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and a Lannan Foundation fellowship. 

No comments:

Not one more refugee death, by Emmy Pérez

And just like that, my #NPM2018 celebrations end with  a poem  today by Emmy Pérez. Not one more refugee death by Emmy Pérez A r...