Vox Populi

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Marc Jampole: Golden Boy

Today I feel the pain of the undocumented Mexican,

pain that fear of discovery brings, the shame of it,

the painful fear and shame of a mother,

naturalized citizen born in Columbia,

when the other children scream at yours

you’re all being sent back home,


the pain of the woman in hijab, man with Sikh turban

on an airplane, feeling the multiple stabs of hateful stares,

the painful shame and anger knowing they think

you’re a terrorist though your son died

in the uniform of the United States Marines,


feel the painful shame of a woman pushed against the wall

and pushing back, trying to get a strong and persistent

unwanted hand away from your crotch,

the pain your shame brings, the pain your anger brings

to know that it will happen again,


painful fear of the Black man stopped

by police in front of your own home,

the Black woman who hears the knife-slashing

whispers that your color got you that promotion,

or the Black father looking at the body

of his daughter shot by cops at a routine traffic stop,


pain of food insecurity, the harrowing shame

to know that all those around you are going home

to a good meal and there’s nothing in your refrigerator

save a jar of nondairy creamer and it’s still a week

until you get the next check,


shame of living in your parents’ basement

surviving on a part-time job at Denny’s,

fifty K in college debt, stinging pain, anger,

shame of doing the same job your father did

in the same factory for half the wages he made

and now they’re closing down,

and you feel yourself stumbling

into an ever-expanding sinkhole.


And like steam and condensation

rising from ponds and puddles, lakes

and rivers, oceans, reservoirs, melting icecaps,

merging somewhere above us,

turning to cold rain and falling,

so these liquid bodies

of pain and shame, fear and anger,

transform to an overwhelming guilt

that fills me to realize that I won by being born,

always chosen first, always the lead role, captain

of the team, the teacher’s pet, natural leader,

natural athlete, honors student, right stuff,


the good boy, the Golden Boy.


Copyright 2017 Marc Jampole


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This entry was posted on March 7, 2017 by in Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , .

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