If a system allegedly designed to serve people eventually starts killing and oppressing them, maybe there’s something wrong with it. Except that there isn’t anything wrong with it. Except that the system wasn’t designed to serve all people. Except that it didn’t suddenly start killing and oppressing people – that’s how it started. A system built on stolen land and dead indigenous bodies is never going to aim for anything else but maintaining the distribution of power as it is. The United States – except that the only unity is among the oppressors.
Every Day We Get More Illegal is a powerful but very lyrical description of the US, dedicated to all the migrants, immigrants and refugees suffering from the border installations within the United States, at the border crossing and throughout Latin America. And it’s written to address and speak to everyone: it addresses America, which never talks about the issues it faces, about the discrimination, oppression, and – more bluntly said – fascism that drive it; it honours the ancestors that resisted and fought against the oppression, the mothers and fathers, the grandmothers and the unnamed; it speaks to everyone pushed to the margins because of who they are, because of what they look like, act like, feel like; and finally, it speaks to every one of us and asks for unity, for solidarity, for humanity.
This collection of poems is particularly interesting because of its diversity:
- you sometimes get a poem that doesn’t waste a second, that’s blunt and direct without a moment of hesitation;
Lissen: you just don’t
talk about it the rape the endless scrubbing washing self lacerations the never ending self-whipping the deep down smoldering stone trauma growing up crooked tree growing up silence ocean storm growing tsunami without a sky ceiling you prefer the holiday merchandise the rational vacuum you just don’t care about the pushed out the stopped out the forced out the starved out the fenced out the shot down
- other times, you get something that seems to be similar to the first, but it ends up as an exchange on candy and frogs;
- then you get the more cryptic poems which areso lyrical I just ended up reading them out loud a second time and then a third time and then a fourth time and then I needed some water because my throat was dry but my eyes were wet.
our hands will join and then lift as we
step to the fires at the center of this umber clay floor
sewn with leaves stones and branches and reeds
we will notice the unwinding flames and their unending quest
toward something we do not know
nuestras manos se unirán y luego se alzarán a medida que
nos acercamos a las hogueras en el centro de este oscuro piso de barro
bordado con hojas piedras y ramas y juncos
notaremos sus llamas que se desenrollan su dicha infinita
hacia algo que no conocemos
The only illegal thing in the Mexican-US border situation should be the border and Juan Felipe Herrera for a borderless society and world, made of relentless unity and kindness and giving.