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Who owes whom?

Who Owes Whom?

 And what if we interrupted
 the phosphorescent faces
 that calmly assess our fate?

 What if we stripped the presses of
 their convenient projections,
 voicing instead our own objections
 to the national debt and immigrant debate?

 We are not the trespassers
 who transformed our cobblestone streets,
 adorned by the twice repossessed
 temples to our future,
 into war zones:
 bombed out and abandoned
 like the dreams
 hunger consumes.

 We are not the trespassers
 who engraved malnutrition
 into the ancient faces
 of our children;
 carved servitude
 into the knotted driftwood backs
 of our campesinos
 who must relinquish our food
 to the world's table.

 We are not the trespassers
 who annexed half our nations
 hoarding our wealth in hands
 as clean and white
 as the teeth of bankers,
 las guardias blancas,
 la Casa Blanca,
 el banco mundial blanco,
 though the skin at times may look brown.

 And we will not pay one increment more
 than the blood and tears
 shed like ticker-tape
 in the miscarried revolutions
 creditors aborted.

 For how are we to repay a debt that is owed us?

 Please Sir, tell us,
 how do we trespass on land that was first peopled by us?

 All that land you pried from the still-warm fingers of our dead
 like artifacts to be sold to private collectors.

 All those wares you snatched like meat
 from the ribs of our hungry.

 All that land on which we die
 like ants in a poison rain when we till it;
 like worms for turning garbage to gold.

 All those riches all that blood all that sweat.

 How are we to repay a debt owed us?

 Please, Sir, tell us,
 How does one trespass
 when a land belongs only to
 the rivers, roots, and sun?


MARGOT "PIMIENTA" PEPPER (e-mail: mpepper@igc.org) was born in Mexico City. Her work has appeared in the Utne Reader, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Berkeley Daily Planet, publications by City Lights, Poetry Flash, Hampton Brown, Cuba's Granma International, Canada's The Scoop, and France's Le Courrier. She is the author of At This Very Moment (poetry) and of a memoir, Through the Wall: A Year in Havana (a 2006 American Book Award nominee). Pepper recently completed a teachers' curriculum guide (Poetry Is Using Your Senses) and is working on an ironic collection of magic realism and science fiction entitled Everyone, Everyone Can Win!
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Article Details
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Author:Peper, Margot
Publication:Social Justice
Article Type:Poem
Date:Mar 22, 2006
Words:393
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