Travelers

(October is Fil-Am History Month)

6

Before Allos, before
the orchards and
the canneries, there was
the dog. There was always
the dog they took pleasure
kicking in the ribs,
baiting its snarl, testing
its fangs. No dogs and none
of your kind
, read the hand-
lettered signs, before they
chased us out into the streets.

7

But before the voyage,
before the shiploads of young
men seduced by promises of new
worlds beyond, there were
the other dogs of war
and treachery, bodies pawned
for twenty million bits
of currency no one
has seen.

8

You who cannot fathom
the cost of being flung
or set adrift or having
to learn how to live
in the in-between:
not everything we’ve done
is out of choice.

9

Dog without pedigree
Dog without chains
Dog sniffing in the wilderness
Dog rooting for the prize
Dog roaming the alleyways
Dog dark as night
There are other forms of love
if you can look beyond
its register of names

10

But you don’t.

You see only
this face,
the canvas
of my skin,

the history
of lies you’ve
perpetuated.

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