The Migrant Mothers Story

Picking cotton in Arkansas

A not so warm welcome from the farmer.
Chicken coup accommodations.

Sisters, Hermanas,
color bronce como sus abuelas,
raza noble.

Happiness glitters in their bright brown eyes.
They laugh as young girls do.

Hot from the field,
quaint country market,
una soda para refrescar.

Then a cruel reminder of where they are,
“We don’t serve your kind!”
Comes the voice of racism and white supremacy,
the familiar lash,
of Bible Belt Christianity.

In the spirit of Langston Hughes,
“The Dream Deferred”.

The moment—
imprinted on their innocence like boot prints in deep snow,
a cold impression—that will never melt.

A migrant child’s, on-again off-again education,
children plagued by racial segregation,
a system
with a singular purpose,
to prepare them to be farm workers
and hotel housekeepers.
“The Dream Deferred”.

the land of opportunity,
for some—but not for them.
“The Dream Deferred”.

Their brothers,
home from the war,
Korea was their patriotic duty.
Proud, Brown men,
Americanos born of Mexicanos,
proud to serve—though signs proudly display,
“No Mexicans or Dogs Allowed”.
“The Dream Differed”.

Shed blood!
Pick crops!
but stay in your own Brown Lane
is the prevailing wind of that Great America,
the land of the free and home of the brave.
Free to labor in her fields,
and be brave enough to shed blood in her wars,
But to the Gringo,
they are disposable, invisible people.

A Great and prosperous America,
unless your skin is brown,
and you speak the tongue of your abuelos. 

For the sake of her children and grandchildren,
It is no wonder, she fears to have
America, made Great Again.

The Elegy

in the blister of the sun,
like branches I was shaded by your presence.
Underneath your boughs
I sheltered from the rain. 
With your wisdom I kindled fires. 

In the twilight of your season 
I gazed upon your beauty.
you were like a mighty tree. 
Your hair was gray, but to me 
It shone with the hue of fall leaves in color—
as they reflect the blossom of maturity. 

How often I saw your love descend like falling leaves 
into gentle piles.
I laughed at the children
as they leapt into your arms,
nestled in your keep. 

Then cruel time took you to task—
you shed leaves no more. 
Your branches now still.
We called the funeral home
and like skilled woodsmen—
they laid you to your rest.  

We called upon a craftsman—  
to weave words reflecting the splendor of your wood— 
You were the noblest of trees and bore the rarest grain,
shaped by stage and storm.  

He crafted your acclaim—
lent brilliance to the grain—
ever mindful of your aim—
giving glory to your name. 



The Bar, At the End of The Street

When he drank, 
he drank deep, at the bar at the end of the street.

The bar was his church. 

His visits,
as regular as a Priest attending

At Mothers urging,
I enter Father’s sacred place
to seek him out—
and collect
what remains
of his check. 

Inside the bar, 
the hymns from the jukebox
are hypnotic,
and from ashtray alters,
the sacrificial smoke of tobacco
ascends to heaven.

From the center of the sanctuary,
comes the clatter
of pool cues
and the clack of ivory thunder
as pool balls collide,
a reminder
that it isn’t really a church
at all,
just a noisy bar. 

The bartender,
a high priest who presides over his flock. 

He provides 
the amber blood
of a different kind of savior, 
and collects the offering,
   the unaffordable tithe,
that once belonged
to children 
and the landlord. 

I interrupt Fathers worship,
rob him of his devotion,
plead for his indulgence 
and convey Mother’s supplication. 

With the reluctance of
an impenitent heart
he hands me 
what remains of his
and sends me on my way. 

he ambles home. 

The next day,
he prays to another God—
for the bruises
laid upon his wife,
and for the guilt
of consequence— 
and he craves a penance
to wash away
his    sin. 

Flat Eggs

In my kitchen,
I make breakfast for my granddaughter.
A small, wide-eyed girl with long brown braids.
She calls the two bright suns swimming in the frying pan,
flat eggs.
She says, no one makes them better.

I wonder
if she’ll look back one day,
the same way I look back
and remember a small boy
in an adobe house
where the sound of a rooster
greets the morning,
and gentle rays of sunshine
make their way through a small earthen window beside my bed
and gently caress my face.

from under the wooden bed
comes the scuffle of tiny hoofs
as a baby goat scurries out to find his mother.

I rise and venture into the courtyard,
noisy chickens scatter beneath my feet,
angry that I’ve disturbed their breakfast.

Across the courtyard
is grandmother’s house
fashioned in the old way of mud and sticks.

In her kitchen,
she makes me breakfast,
two golden suns swimming in a frying pan,
my flat eggs.
I say, no one made them better.


Life’s journey can be hard,
and aging
has a way of chipping at
my stately
Yet, the scent
of green
country air in
the morning, the fragrance
of flowers on Mother’s Day–
then, the stern lines
across my face
and fade away.
I reflect on the restful sounds of lullabies
and baby laughter–
I remember my children
and my children’s children,
playground swings and
fishing trips.
Evan the soft sensation of soapy bubbles
against weathered hands is a pleasant feeling.
And the soft feel of puppy fur against my face
brings comfort to my weary
age-ed mind and cranky disposition
and life is good