Looks like May is poetry month! This a free form poem I wrote as part of a school assignment for a literature course, but it came form my heart. It was inspired by Sui Sin Far’s short story “In the Land of the Free,” which I would highly suggest checking out. Far was an early–the first, I believe–Asian author to be published in the west, and her Chinese heritage is why I’ve chosen to have the Great Wall as my featured image this week (also, it’s just a beautiful picture).
Don’t forget to like, share, and comment, and have a great weekend! And now…
a poem by Benjamin J. Law
The depth of human confusion–
it can’t be met by any other creature.
Humans: a being like you and me;
he, she, Asian, African, Indian, Iranian,
American, Irish, European,
Mexican, Spanish, Canadian, and more.
All human. Yet some live under the illusion
that rights, responsibilities, they’re for some–
they’re for the few, the “noble,” the local,
the ivory man, with gold and silver in store–
and not for the immigrant from lands of sun,
from lands of ice and snow, and lands of the poor.
Sui Sin Far demonstrated it best. In her stories
she wrote of Chinese distress, of immigration woes,
of stereotypes and false ideals and burdened families;
she wrote for the those who couldn’t write fantastic prose.
Born Edith Maude Eaton, she donned a new name,
taken from the Narcissus flower, a bud loved by her people,
Sui Sin Far set her roots deep.
Writing abroad, in Europe and the Americas,
“In the Land of the Free,” where she saw the blame;
It was to be placed on those who thought themselves great.
It was placed on those who slouched,
who didn’t stand up straight for the suffering,
for the alone, wounded, lost, searching,
for the families torn apart, parent and child forced to separate.
Though Sui Sin Far wrote around a hundred years ago,
one can look now and see her stories lasting,
grow past their time, with no rhyme or reason,
the same humans committing crimes against humanity.
The world might have learned that the world can’t win this way–
with ambivalent chatter, with an idle crawl of infant thought,
with mishandling immigration and building a great wall.
Freedom does come with a cost:
a war fought by those brave enough to face it.
But there’s another fee, and many can’t place it:
the severing of family ties, living as prisoners in paper cells–
signed by our own hand in the wake of judicial hell–
living under the scope of nearsightedness as many are.
And again, we return to the tales of Sui Sin Far,
where she showed us the damage a paper can cause,
a paper for a newborn child, oversea with parents,
turned away, kept at the boat, held by a stranger,
held until proof can be given and then clearance.
One night to a year, or more for many, who wait,
and wait, for their new government, impertinent,
to show up at the door in a deus ex machina with child aboard.
Stand or sit, with a bloody fist fight around you,
words of war and hate, an unabashed show of discrimination,
a galvanization of political means at the cost of God’s creation.
Bat an eye. Turn a head. Glance away. Stay afraid.
Or face the demons in the towers that govern,
bleed from paper cuts and pollution too great to breathe in,
the minutia that keeps parents at bay, longing and saudade:
the feeling that they’re slipping away with the “helping hand.”
We, humans, create the land we have,
And we, humans, decide those we do and don’t have,
both crossing our borders and rising in the voting stands.
By God’s grace are we diverse. By God’s embrace do we advance,
in Babylonian towers on rocks or sand, waters or land;
we build this land together. And as Sui Sin Far showed,
when we stand, walk, write for others,
it’s then that we are the greatest land–
by God’s own decree–the Land of the Free.
This week’s writing prompt:
She rises from the sands, a structure of stone blocking her path, but she must continue on her journey…
If you send your outcome to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, then I might share it in next week’s post!