7 Year Olds Dying In Third Reich “Detention”

“Papi, are we there—
are we almost there?”
Wide-eyed incantation
of a child, three feet plus/
60 pounds.
Exodus leaving the lowland
six days before birthday 7…

“Papi, are we there—
are we almost there?”
Beaming birthday celebrant
on the bus munching an un-
crushed pink frosted cookie
from Papi’s beat up backpack

“Papi, are we there—
are we almost there?”
Her small, soft hands celebrating
Heroics of an unshaven face chasing
Dreams; dreams of pine tree scents
and small gifts—compliments of magic
of his hands. Dreams of the doll her
Mother promised, before dying suddenly;
Dreams of asylum from violence, fleeing
extractive capitalism’s suction tube tentacles…

Papi also had dreams of “J-Bird,” as he
called her, teaching school and university
with compassion and skill she instructed
stick dolls he’d crafted from fallen branches

“Papi, are we there—
are we almost there?”
springing up and down on her
invisible trampoline, Papi’s promises
of a Christmas tree and celebration in
California, in America…racing through
her amazed and amazing mind.
Papi was proud. His back burned and
ached. He clenched his teeth, when she
dozed off to sleep. His stomach growled,
rattling sunken sides. He went without
eating so her belly would be full. He took
tiny swigs of water so she’d have enough…

(Football fans who love players that ‘play
through pain;’ Basketball fans who love
players that ‘create their own shots,’ does
chasing dreams thousands of miles through
government/gang infested swamps—bad back
7 yr. old in tow—show up in your thicket of
statistics and fantasy?)

“Papi, are we there—
are we almost there?”
To her the bumpy ride jarring dreams,
juggling her belly up and down was an
Adventure. And Papi had prepared her for
it with bedtime stories where everyone lived
Happily ever after…

Arriving at a ‘border’ swarming with
uniformed thugs: 3/5 human—igloos
pumping raw sewage through veins
whistling “Dixie” prying Papi and “J-Bird”
Her forehead a 105 degree radiator; body
spasming, eyes rolling ‘round in their sockets
tummy evicting food Papi fed her—
Terrorist tricks to breach the border, enter the
U.S.— as were delirious, distorted, slow motion
Last words…
“Papi, are we there—
are we almost there?”

Former forklift driver/warehouse worker/janitor, Raymond Nat Turner is a NYC poet; BAR's Poet-in-Residence; and founder/co-leader of the jazz-poetry ensemble UpSurge!NYC. Read other articles by Raymond Nat, or visit Raymond Nat's website.