Poetry: ‘If You Leave Your Shoes’ by Joseph Ross

My friend Joe Ross has written a provocative and stunning poem in reaction to the new immigration laws Arizona is about to enact.

Joseph Ross is a poet, working in Washington, D.C., whose poems have been published in many journals and anthologies including Poetic Voices Without Borders 1 and 2, Poet Lore, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and Full Moon on K Street.

Joe co-edited with me Cut Loose the Body: An Anthology of Poems on Torture and Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib for D.C. Poets Against the War. He has given readings in Washington, D.C.’s Miller Cabin Poetry Series and in the Library of Congress’ Poetry-at-Noon Series. He teaches in the College Writing Program at American University in Washington, D.C. I’m grateful to Split This Rock for posting Joe’s poem.

If You Leave Your Shoes
A Response to Arizona’s Law SB 1070
by Joseph Ross

If you leave your shoes
on the front porch
when you run

to the city pool
for swimming lessons,
you might end up

walking across the sand
of the desert in
scorched feet,

bare, like the prophets,
who knew what it was
to burn.

If you leave your lover
to run to the market
for bread and pears

you might return
to find your lover
gone and the bed

covered with knives,
hot and gleaming from
a morning in the sun.

If you leave your country
in the wrong hands,
you might return to

see it drowning in blood,
able to spit
but not to speak.

Joe Ross appeared on the panel Gay and Lesbian Poetry in the 40th Year Since Stonewall: History, Craft, Equality during Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation and Witness 2010. Find out more about Split This Rock.

3 responses to “Poetry: ‘If You Leave Your Shoes’ by Joseph Ross”

  1. I disagree. I think this is a beautiful poem. I’m not sure where you get the idea that the poet has “no skin in the game.” What I hear you saying is that you are directly impacted by the our failed immigration laws and you want reform. Currently, all American tax payers are paying for a failed immigration policy and those who carry the greatest burden are those who are caught in the unfair system — whether undocumented immigrant, documented citizen living in border towns, or law enforcement officers who are told to enforce failed policies. I’d welcome a beautiful poem from you.

  2. Hey so this is a really bad poem. I wonder, can the Poet donate some of his earnings to help cover the costs associated with Illegal Immigration to the state of AZ? Just wondering because it is easy to be so self-important over a social cause when you have no skin in the game.

    So how about it, want to donate to help us out with the costs of illegal immigration? What a boring, pompous poem this is.

    How about writing a poem to the wife and family of a cop that was recently murdered by an illegal alien out here a few weeks ago.

    How about it?

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