2017 01 28
You cannot keep me out of my new homeland
where my wife and children depend on me.
Many years ago I escaped from war,
grasping hands of my wife and children tight
to flee the bombs of jet planes in the sky,
and we ran into the abyss of night
to walk the dusty trail of smiling skulls,
leaving Garden of Eden in Iraq
to find new paradise in Illinois.
Once we walked over invisible line
into the bleak riverless waste of Syria,
we rode on lumber in old pickup truck
till we arrived in Latakia Port,
named for the mother of some ancient king,
and spent the night beside the silent wall
of Bacchus temple, where wild revelries
of satyrs drinking wine and chanting hymns
no longer echo in its roofless hall.
Long years we lived in small apartment room,
waiting for acceptance to paradise
after we applied for refugee status,
and I worked mopping floors in college halls,
although I am a civil engineer,
till we were granted visas with a stamp
to fly to Rome and London and New York,
then on to Chicago by gleaming lake
where we rejoiced with hearts of humble thanks
to live at last in the land of the free,
welcomed by the Lady of Liberty
who opens her arms to all refugees.
For many years now since we arrived here
in windy Chicago, I have been employed
as associate professor of engineering
at Wilbur Wright College, named for the man
and his brother who built the first airplane,
where I teach construction technology,
instructing smart young students expertise
in application of energy efficiency
and the renewable energy systems
in building and construction industries.
Two years ago I gained citizenship
when I declared loyalty of my whole heart
to noble principle of liberty
and justice for which America stands,
and every day I place my right hand firm
on my beating heart and pledge true allegiance
to the good flag of these United States.
But now when I return from my old homeland,
where my ancestors lived a thousand years,
visiting my family and gentle mother
after my father died, when I return
to land of freedom I cherish and love,
you block me from entering my new homeland?
Why do you twist my arm behind my back?
I am an old man, a college professor,
hardly a threat to peace of our shared nation.
Let me call my immigration lawyer.
Now I am locked alone in this small room,
like a character in a Kafka novel,
arrested and detained without a charge.
I feel like Icarus with broken wings,
fallen from the sky where I once flew free
and dragged helpless from the cold weeping sea.