On Being Human

Right now
Someone is breaking the law:
Sneaking out into the desert
–trespassing private property
cutting through government wire
ingeniously avoiding ICE agents
and roving National Guard units
who stand armed with machine guns and
spitting the tobacco juice of disdain—
travelling unnoticed miles and miles
to leave giant blue water bottles
at discreet locations
where Northbound travelers,
“border crossers”–“ illegal aliens”–
may find them
and drink their fill
and thereby not become so parched
so dehydrated
so overheated
as to die in the dust
(nor so desperate
as to lose faith
in humanity

If you would ask these water-bearers to stop
If you would make them stop
If you would give aid to those who would stop them
If you are the kind of person who would force these precious water-guardians
to disown their adopted cousins of the South,
and let them die,
grasping at cacti thorns in the skeleton desert
Then I say it’s you
Who must be stopped.

Perhaps it is you who should be cast out
Into the desert.
Perhaps it is You who are the Alien
In our human midst.

What human being can feel secure
with the likes of you around?

Joe Ramsey is a teacher, writer, and activist residing in the Boston area. He is co-editor of Cultural Logic: an electronic journal of marxist theory and practice, as well as a board member at Socialism and Democracy, and a contributing editor to Red Wedge magazine, where this essay first appeared. He can be reached at: jgramsey@gmail.com. Read other articles by Joseph.

3 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Gary S. Corseri said on November 29th, 2010 at 10:00am #

    Amen, Joseph! Resounding, contemporary American poetry/art with political bite!

    In this age of twittering nonsense and colossal (!) Broadway (!) extravaganzas (!) about Spiderman (!!!)… thanks for helping to revive the spurned art form of Shelley and Ferlinghetti!

  2. mary said on November 29th, 2010 at 10:53am #

    I agree and think that this earlier work is also pretty special.


    On the subject of borders, this is proposed by Israel to hold ‘ illegal’ immigrants. No irony here when their own presence on this land is illegal under international law!


  3. Angie Tibbs said on November 29th, 2010 at 1:46pm #

    Good work, Joseph. Very good.