December 2, 2019

Evie Shockley: I’m Evie Shockley, and this is PoetryNow. The poem is in some ways timeless, but at the same time, it is very much part of this moment, because I have reached a new level of frustration with the discourse around immigration and who is a real American. It boggles my mind. It calls for poetry.


* * *


the black people left, and took with them their furious

            hurricanes and their fire-breathing rap songs melting

the polar ice caps. they left behind the mining jobs,

           but took that nasty black lung disease and the insurance

regulations that loop around everything concerning

           health and care, giant holes of text that all the coverage

falls through. the brown people left, and took with

           them the pesticides collecting like a sheen on the skins

of fruit. they went packing, and packed off with them

           went all the miserable low-paying gigs, the pre-dawn

commutes, the children with expensive special needs

           and the hard-up public schools that tried to meet them.

the brown people left, railroaded into carting off those

           tests that keep your average bright young student outside

the leagues of ivy-lined classrooms, and also hauled off

           their concentrated campuses, their great expectations, their

invasive technology, and the outrageous pay gap between

           a company’s c.e.o. and its not-quite-full-time workers. they

took their fragile endangered pandas and species extinction

           and got the hell outta dodge. the black people left and took

hiv/aids, the rest of their plagues, and all that deviant

           sexuality with them. they took their beat-down matriarchies

and endless teen pregnancies, too. those monster-sized

           extended families, the brown people took those. the brown

people boxed up their turbans and suspicious sheet-like

           coverings, their terrifying gun violence, cluster bombs,

and drones, and took the whole bloody mess with them,

           they took war and religious brow-beating tucked under

their robes. they took theocracy and their cruel, unusual

           punishments right back where they came from. finally,

the white people left, as serenely unburdened as when

          they arrived, sailing off from plymouth rock with nothing

in their hands but a recipe for cranberry sauce, a bit

           of corn seed, and the dream of a better life. there were

only certain kinds of people here, after the exodus, left

           to wander the underdeveloped wilderness in search

of buffalo, tobacco, and potable water, following old

           migratory patterns that would have been better left alone.

* * *

One of the ways, I think, in my poetry generally, that I try to deal with what feels to me like absurdity, is to sort of explore the illogic of a set of ideas by using illogic in the structure of the poem.


the black people left, and took with them their furious /            hurricanes and their fire-breathing rap songs melting / the polar ice caps.

Rather than demonize anyone for coming here, we might want to think about how to live here, together.

Katie Klocksin: That was Evie Shockley and her poem “anti-immigration.” I’m Katie Klocksin and this is PoetryNow, a production of the Poetry Foundation. For more about this series, go to

Evie Shockley expresses frustration over ongoing immigration policies and thinks about ways Americans might better live together. Produced by Katie Klocksin.

More Episodes from PoetryNow
Showing 1 to 20 of 193 Podcasts
  1. Monday, December 30, 2019

    I Thought a Tree Dying

  2. Monday, December 23, 2019

    I Saw This Day Coming

  3. Monday, December 16, 2019

    Hypersensitive Emanation

  4. Monday, December 9, 2019

    There Is No Meaning Here

  5. Monday, November 25, 2019

    A poem from From A Winter Notebook

  6. Monday, November 18, 2019


  7. Monday, November 11, 2019
  8. Monday, November 4, 2019

    I’m an Avid Skier

  9. Monday, October 28, 2019


  10. Monday, October 21, 2019

    The Other Side

  11. Monday, October 14, 2019


  12. Monday, October 7, 2019

    Skype Healer

  13. Monday, September 30, 2019

    As If to Misread Song

  14. Monday, September 23, 2019

    Goodbye 14

  15. Monday, September 16, 2019

    Standards-Based Assessment

  16. Monday, September 9, 2019

    Girl Soup

  17. Monday, September 2, 2019

    No People in It

  18. Monday, August 26, 2019

    poem for bruce

  19. Monday, August 19, 2019

    We Are Saying Yes, But Who Are We to Say

  20. Monday, August 12, 2019

    immediately motionless likeness

    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4
    5. 5
    6. 6
  1. Next Page