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Fall 2006

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Immigrant Song
Bob Hoeppner

A whisper of immigrants
shouts on the Capitol steps.
"Don't treat us like a cough.
We are the air you breathe."
The Senator puts a bag on his head,
hyperventilates complaints from constituents,
turns blue, sees red, fears brown,
wants to swallow them back down
the throat of Mexico.
Just say no to the fragile nanny
who's tax-free and Hispanic
and that will be antacid
for the upset stomach of consumers
who eat their American dream
and want to have it, too,
vote for Prohibition,
then bootleg across the border
and complain it's out of order.
There's bulimia in the bathroom of their brains,
a backing up of conscience
to be plungered with hollow ideas
in a vast sucking sound
that echoes from vacuous minds
to cavernous grottos in faces.
Bats fly out, blind with prejudice,
homing in on blood to suck.
They land on the shoulders of humans,
flap off the backs of animals,
blooded guts pumping their guano.
I don't know where the shadows of bats
fall in the night, where they crawl,
what wall they lean against,
bricked against the immigrants,
the sign up "give us your tired, your poor",
the fine print, "be used and go home."
Both doves and crows alight
on the statues of noble men,
leave droppings. The people feed
the doves, shoo the crows away.