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Life Arts    H3'ed 12/17/22

The Great Migration Poem

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Migrants Day
Migrants Day
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It's International Migrants Day Weekend --

another one of those holidays I nearly forgot.

Thank Christ for The Guardian and its caring coverage!

Americans don't think about migrants much.

We usually settle for talk about The Wall.

We used to call them "wetbacks" when I was a kid,

because they swam across the Rio Rubicon,

but then the PC element said we have to call them W-words now.

So, we just dog-whistle The Wall and good ol boys

have themselves a little wink festival and a Coors at the border bar.


If Treasure of Sierra Madre taught us anything,

it's that neoliberalism doesn't really work:

suddenly nobody needs badges any more

in the mighty struggle to secure the gold.

American miners corrupted by greed and suspicion.

Bogie all Ah, but the strawberries!

Old Huston just wantin' to buy a porch somewhere

to rock away his last days, wizened smile, corncob pipe, red sunset.

The Other Guy -- handsome Mr. Everyman from Erie, Pennsylvania, let's say --

American Dreamin' until Bogie "catches him" with the strawberries.

And then, the resources eaten alive from the land,

like some fuckin corporate pie-eatin' contest controlled by the Kochs,

then the service sector fails, the mattress factory closes, smiles are shuttered

and the migrants head for El Norte to try their luck

in the Land of Golden Opportunity.


The real hero of the tale, the gold dust stuff of dreams,

is carried away in the wind, like it never existed.





It's a moveable feast

all those war vets in Paris

heroes who'd lost their cocks in the war

hanging out at Hemingway's Place

near the Arc de Triomphe

them looking out the window at the revolutionary traffic

wondering why they don't bumper car more often,

French fists flying, chains and tire irons pulled from trunks.

He thinks: Are we hiving insects after all, mankind, who have our sh*t together?

He's a native English speaker who's had too much.

And "she" touches "his" knee,

wants to dance,

and he,

he wants to pee,

and takes his time in the stall

to write his Rimbaud feelings on the wall:

I am lost in a dream at Papa's place:

Here is my phone number. But please:

no co*k-eyed Sartrians need apply, n'est ce pas?

I'm an expat who knows all about being and nothingness.

And then he went back and danced the night away.

David Bowie. "Fascist."




So it's late

when I turn in my migrant's day poem to the editor

who looks at me with vixen eyes,

and he says, Nixon spies

are on the rise,

with Commie ties.

Or maybe it was the weed that spoke

through the cumulus cloud of cannabis smoke.


In Europe, they're coming

from all over, migrants everywhere,

peals of laughter at the notion of the EU's

borderless freedom to move at will,

another byproduct of Pax Americana.


"Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

on the radio,

and you go, I dunno, as if in answer.




I'm a migrant

from migrant stock

and you?

Where are you coming from?

Me, I'm a potato faminist.

Murphy's Lawyer.

Giant's Causeway on a visit, thinking, They look like pencils.

O, the open suspicion in a Derry bar,

until they heard my American accent

proving I wasn't some King's Own English

Cromwellian make-me-dance-with-my-feet motherf*cker.

Wouldn't you?

Orangemen and their parades. Yellow school bussing back in Boston.

Goddamn it all.


And then the other shoe drops

when I find out not one of them has read Ulysses.

And Enya's on the tellie ethereally kicking tyrant ass:

"How Can I Keep from Singing?"

As I wonder if my heritage will kick in

and I'll discover there's a native gear to my drinking

that turns me leprechaun, beer by beer, for being here.


Back in Boston, I'll recount my visit, and no one will care.


The Great Migration from Pepsi (it's a new generation!)

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John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelance journalist and poet currently residing in Oceania.

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