Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

Done with Ralph

July 11, 2017

 

Where I meet Ralph?
In my world, before I immigrate.
You listen, officer. I tell you.
My earth good world once.
Sweet flowers. Sweet people.
Like this earth.
Everything go wrong.…

Wild, biting dogs run through streets.
Every day. All kinds of dogs.
Crazy birds, bats drop from sky.
“No problem,” Zosh say,
“just look up and watch your feet.”

Zosh and me, we sixteen.
Zosh, he big, ugly, nasty.
Never bathe.
Stuff grow on Zosh
like moss on rotten log.

People tell me,
“You too small, boy.
You too cute to live.”
So I hang with Zosh.

Zosh? No ask about Zosh.
He not immigrate. Never meet Ralph.
Zosh friend back then.…
You ask where I meet Ralph.
I tell where we meet.
We meet in my world.
You listen.…

When I not with Zosh,
I watch men close.
Sharp eyes. I see souls.
I know when to run.
I run fast, too.
I run and dodge
and stay on feet.
I still alive.

No, no.
Soul not just in eyes.
I see souls in way people stand, move, sleep.
From anywhere. From behind in dark.…
Sure. Right now. I see you.
You immigration officer
but you straight-up, cool guy.
So we talk.…

Nights it rain
I stay inside with others.
Plenty boarded-up wrecks.
Apartments. Stores. Offices.
Spirits move like drafts
through those rooms.
The dead!
I hate dead!

All of them.
My parents. My sister.
Let them move along to hell!
We done with them!

Maybe you not know dead.…

When dead touch you,
ice shoot up spine.
It take hours to warm up.

I not see dead coming.
Only feel them,
and not tell from where.
Which way to run?
Then that chill!

Zosh say dead want something.
I thinking stake through heart!

Funeral? Maybe funeral help.
We not have time.…

Every morning, fresh kills.
We chuck bodies out of
apartments, hallways, alleys.
Food for dogs!
They not stink up our space.
But chills linger.

I know dead by chill sometimes,
if they someone I fight or fuck.
Not much there for living.
Nothing for dead.
But chills stay.

I get out.
Needy dumbass take me out.
I spot him first time through.
I not see him before
and I watching.

Yeah, Ralph.…

Nice clothes. Hot flycar!
I get in off those streets
and Ralph fly me out.
We go to your earth camp.
Nothing back there I want.
Nobody neither.

Ralph safe.
Just tame dog sniffing round.
You not like his touch
but it candy after chill’s.
It get me out.

No. Not see him, maybe, five months.
No ask me where he go. We bust up.
He move along. Cold son of bitch!…

Yeah, I got his flycar.
He not need it. Sweet ride!…
No. I not keep that place. Too cold.
Got my own place. Snug. No drafts.
I trade fridge for bigger stove. It nice.…

Yeah, it hot for this coat.
People say I wear too much clothes.
Zosh say, you wear your clothes,
you know no one else is.…

Look for Ralph?! Not till I miss him!…
Hey! No ask me find Ralph!
You officers come round, ask questions.
I give something for reports. Me good citizen.
But I chuck Ralph out.
He not sweet as he smell.
I done with Ralph!…

Sure, I OK.
I learn English. I get job. Good job.
Everything fine.
Come from my world, not much trouble you.
I just go nowhere I feel chill.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

 

Discussion

This story is cross-genre oddity. It is a science fiction story set in an alternate reality where travel and immigration between parallel universes are possible. It is also a ghost story, a sexual exploitation story, and possibly a murder story. And, of course, it is in verse.

Like “Skunky’s Steel Mill Story,” which was published here in June, “Done with Ralph” is a short short story or flash fiction written using the line structure of verse. Written out as prose, verse fiction reads like concentrated prose fiction. But the line breaks add intensity and emphasis that make the story more powerful. That said, verse structure simply will not work for most fiction. Even if you have a story that would benefit from verse, simply chopping up the prose to create lines will produce an embarrassment. Recasting a story as verse requires a complete line-by-line revision.

 

Swimmers, Acrylic Painting on wood by Mike Smetzer

Swimmers, Acrylic Painting on wood by Mike Smetzer

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A Patriotic Proposal to Help Fund Donald Trump’s Wall Along the Mexican Border

January 29, 2017

It is a simple question of what really is valuable for us and what is not. President Trump says we need a 2000-mile wall to secure our southern border against Mexicans. Security is valuable for us. But such a wall will cost many billions of dollars. Where does the money come from? The means of acquiring enough money to at least start the project is right at our front door.

Solution: Sell the Statue of Liberty.

Yes, the Statue of Liberty has some value for the tourist industry. But tourists will still come to New York City without it. New York has plenty of tourist sites to offer. Other than that, the statue is just a nostalgic memorial to a time long past.

A copper statue of such giant size, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel, with all its historical provenance, is worth a fortune. If sold at a well-advertised auction at Christie’s in London, I think it would easily fetch over a billion dollars. Enough for a good start on our southern wall. A few of the richest collectors could bid that much, and foreign governments like China could bid much more. Perhaps Germany would buy the statue to place on its eastern border. It would certainly be more appropriate there than it is here.

And what do we lose? The symbolism and sentiments of the distant past. Emma Lazarus’s sonnet written for the statue includes the words “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free./The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” These sentiments have no place in U.S. foreign policy today. We already have all the poor and tired people we need in this country. And huddled masses spread crime and disease!

Maybe such people were useful when we needed sod busters to settle the wilderness and laborers to build the railroads. Poor immigrants have nothing to offer us today. They cost a fortune in social services, and you have to train them to, maybe, speak English and use a toilet. Native-born Americans do not want to see the refuse of other countries when we look in the mirror. For our own self-respect alone, we would be better off selling the Statue of Liberty. It simply no longer represents our government’s policies or our national values.

Further, please consider that the Statue of Liberty is occupying an extraordinary piece of real estate. Liberty Island is the most exclusive 15 acres of real estate in New York Bay. We should privatize the site with the stipulation that a bold and magnificent structure will be built there. I’m thinking of a tower. An extraordinary tower of luxury apartments for the very rich. I know a New York firm that can do the job. And at the top of the tower, where Liberty’s torch was once raised high above the waters, I see a huge neon sign with the single bold word: Trump.