Thursday, May 3, 2012

An Immodest Proposal

artwork: ralph murre

An Immodest Proposal
by Martha Kaplan

Let us now fire all immigrants
Too many work to prepare the food we eat
To slaughter the meat
To truck the meat to market
To harvest in the fields from dark to dark
Too many slave in conditions we choose not to see
Let us now fire them all
And feed ourselves the sludge and slime that we create
Let us free the rivers that we have dammed until no
Rivers flow below our borders

Too many work for wages far below our own
Or none, to build our ticky-tack houses from sun to sun
Our skyscrapers high on desert floors
To trim our elegant trees, or clean our floors, bent
Knees before our un-flushed latrines
Too many kiss and hug, and feed and comfort,
Our offspring in schools too dear for them to afford,
And let us fire all those who have finished soldiering
For us in all our foreign wars
Let us now fire all immigrants

Let us also send back those children of immigrants
Born here among us, though citizens, they clearly do not
Belong, their languages too melodic to the ear,
Their food too varied, too unlike the meatloaf of cows
Raised on evil corn, the night-Trojan horse,
Eater of prairie soil, let us send back all who come
Without influence and power to this blood soil,
These high mountains, our ocean shores, and let us
Extend this principle of exclusion
To all the generations of those who have come
from outside these borders,
To those whose children ate the trees
extending from sea to sea,
And blew away the twelve feet deep soil, the work
of millennia,
And who sing of purple mountains beautiful
And golden waves of grass as if the few
Hundred years of residency despoiling this place
grants them grace
Send them back across the seas,
Give back the land to those here first,
Those these newcomers call “new,” and I too
Will wave from the boat sending me back
To the killing fields of Europe

~ first published in Mobius, The Poetry Magazine