Poetry Border Protest/Intervention

Cuvaj se/Take Care is staging a Border Poetry Protest and Intervention reading poems of resistance against the illegal and inhumane detention of children separated from their families seeking asylum at the U.S. border. We will be staging readings at detention camps and various sites along the border. Heathen/Heather Derr-Smith will read poems for those who are unable to be present at the border but want to speak out against the gross human rights violations being committed by the Trump administration and the United States of America.

“A Poem to be Read at the Border about Animals” by Mary Ann Hudson, read by Heathen/Heather Derr-Smith at the U.S.-Mexico Border on the Mexican side. Approaching the border you see a lot of razor wire and the concrete wall below the Paso Del Norte pedestrian bridge. Sections of the wall are rust-colored metal slats, some sections are slabs of concrete that look like the Berlin Wall. It’s easy to cross from the U.S. side into Mexico, and you will see people passing by as I read.

Coming back into the U.S. is much more difficult. I had to walk through Juarez down to another bridge and there it was very crowded and took about an hour and a half maybe? I spoke with many people waiting to cross the border from Juarez.

One was a young man with a beautiful heart and soul. He lives in Juarez and works at McDonalds in El Paso and goes to community college there. He has to factor in a two hour border crossing every day. He dreams of working for NASA. He says he is afraid to go into space himself but he wants to build space stations and other spacecraft. He says maybe if he builds his own rocket ship he would go into space that way. He said he loves his chemistry teacher, a woman at the community college who turned his dislike of chemistry into a passionate love.

He was also passionate about green energy and climate change. He said he wanted to work for NASA but he also wanted to work in Civil Engineering on green energy. He’s making his own solar panels right now and other projects for his parents home in Juarez where he lives. He asked me about Bosnia and Syria and I told him.

He said he doesn’t like to listen to the news because it makes him too sad. I told him about Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden coming to play a concert in Sarajevo during the siege. He was amazed. I said what I’d learned from Bosnians was to live everyday in resistance to the bullshit, to hold the sadness with a fierce and joyful embrace of living. He was very happy about that idea.

He asked me, “So how do you like Mexicans after talking to me?” I was surprised at the idea that I might not like Mexicans–but I’m a white woman–so I don’t get off with easy assumptions. I deserve the question. I said “I love Mexicans–I love all people! White supremacy is rising all over the world and each one of us has a responsibility to speak out” and he said, “I wish more people felt that way–I guess some people forget how to be human” Then we passed onto the U.S. side of the border and I saw the refugees/migrants being held in a crowded cage in the heat and I said, “I have to stop and film this”. and we said goodbye. I gave him my email in case he ever needs any help from Cuvaj se/Take Care or me personally. I will never forget him and I will dream about him in a spaceship flying over the earth.

The PRICE OF STRAWBERRIES by grady chambers

June 28th, evening. This poem, “The Price of Strawberries” by Grady Chambers touched me deeply. I spent a long time writing it out by hand, copying it from my phone into my notebook. Every time my phone would go dark, which was about every ten seconds, I would tap it and say “Bismillah” which for me is just acknowledging whatever is so big, so deep, so “dread sad” or “dreadful sad,” we have to step back and make space for what we don’t understand–loss, grief, how beautiful it is to be alive, how dreadful sad it is too, especially when we see suffering–of our loved ones, strangers, of the earth, little children. So I decided to read it in my room tonight. It felt like a time of needed quiet. Thank you to Grady Chambers. Mashallah.

This video was filmed in front of the El Paso detention camps where children are still being illegally detained and separated from their families as they seek asylum. You can see the tents behind me. Every day it is over a 100 degrees. There is a loudspeaker that orders commands. This treatment of children is abuse and torture.

Heathen/Heather Derr-Smith from Cuvaj se/Take Care is reading Manifesto for the New World by Laura Minor in protest of the illegal and inhumane detention of children separated from their families seeking asylum in a gross violation of their human rights. Franklin Mountains above El Paso & Juarez, July 2019

“The Children” by Kathy Fagan, read by Heathen/Heather Derr-Smith at Clint Detention Facility.