Before the brave, before the proud builders and workers,
I say I want the wide American earth,
Its beautiful rivers and long valleys and fertile plains,
Its numberless hamlets and expanding towns and towering cities,
Its limitless frontiers, its probing intelligence,
For all the free.
                         Free men everywhere in my land—
This wide American earth—do not wander homeless,
And are not alone; friendship is our bread, love our air;
And we call each other comrade, each growing with the other,
Each a neighbor to the other, boundless in freedom.

I say I want the wide American earth....
I say to you defenders of  freedom, builders of peace,
I say to you democratic brothers, comrades of love:
Their judges lynch us, their police hunt us;
Their armies and navies and airmen terrorize us;
Their thugs and stoolies and murderers kill us;
They take away bread from our children;
They ravage our women;
They deny life to our elders.
                         But I say we have the truth
On our side, we have the future with us;
We are millions everywhere,
on seas and oceans and lands;
In air;
On water and all over this very earth.
We are millions working together.
We are building, creating, molding life.
We are shaping the shining structures of love.
We are everywhere, we are everywhere.
We are there when they sentence us to prison for telling the truth;
We are there when they conscript us to fight their wars;
We are there when they throw us in concentration camps;
We are there when they come at dawn with their guns.
We are there, we are there,
and we say to them:

“You cannot frighten us with your bombs and deaths;
You cannot drive us away from our land with your hate and disease;
You cannot starve us with your war programs and high prices;
You cannot command us with your nothing,
Because you are nothing but nothing;
You cannot put us all in your padded jails;
You cannot snatch the dawn of life from us!”

And we say to them:

“Remember, remember,
We shall no longer wear rags, eat stale bread, live in darkness;
We shall no longer kneel on our knees to your false gods;
We shall no longer beg you for a share of life.
Remember, remember,
O remember in the deepest midnight of your fear,
We shall emulate the wonder of our women,
The ringing laughter of our children,
The strength and manhood of our men
With a true and honest and powerful love!”

And we say to them:

“We are the creators of a flowering race!”

I say I want the wide American earth.
I say to you too, sharer of my delights and thoughts,
I say this deathless truth,
And more—
                         For look, watch, listen:
With a stroke of my hand I open the dawn of a new world,
Lift up the beautiful horizon of a new life;
All for you, comrade and my love.
The magnificent towers of our future is afire with truth,
And growing with the fuel of the heart of my heart,
and unfolding and unfolding, and flowering and flowering
In the bright new sun of our world;
All for you, comrade and my wife.
                                                  And see:
I cry, I weep with joy,
And my tears are the tears of my people....

Before the brave, before the proud builders and workers,
I say I want the wide American earth
For all the free,
I want the wide American earth for my people,
I want my beautiful land.
I want it with my rippling strength and tenderness
Of love and light and truth
For all the free—

“I Want the Wide American Earth” ca. 1950. Copyright © Carlos Bulosan. Reprinted with the permission of University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, PNW04510.

{for the D.A.C.A DREAMers and all our nation's immigrants}

. . . my veins don’t end in me
but in the unanimous blood
of those who struggle for life . . .

. . . mis venas no terminan en mí
sino en la sange unánime
de los que luchan por la vida . . .

—Roque Dalton, Como tú

Como tú, I question history’s blur in my eyes
each time I face a mirror. Like a mirror, I gaze
into my palm a wrinkled map I still can’t read,
my lifeline an unnamed road I can’t find, can’t
trace back to the fork in my parents’ trek
that cradled me here. Como tú, I woke up to
this dream of a country I didn’t choose, that
didn’t choose me—trapped in the nightmare
of its hateful glares. Como tú, I’m also from
the lakes and farms, waterfalls and prairies
of another country I can’t fully claim either.
Como tú, I am either a mirage living among
these faces and streets that raised me here,
or I’m nothing, a memory forgotten by all
I was taken from and can’t return to again.

Like memory, at times I wish I could erase
the music of my name in Spanish, at times
I cherish it, and despise my other syllables
clashing in English. Como tú, I want to speak
of myself in two languages at once. Despite
my tongues, no word defines me. Like words,
I read my footprints like my past, erased by
waves of circumstance, my future uncertain
as wind. Like the wind, como tú, I carry songs,
howls, whispers, thunder’s growl. Like thunder,
I’m a foreign-borne cloud that’s drifted here,
I’m lightning, and the balm of rain. Como tú,
our blood rains for the dirty thirst of this land.
Like thirst, like hunger, we ache with the need
to save ourselves, and our country from itself.

Copyright © 2019 by Richard Blanco. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 9, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets, from How to Love a Country (Beacon Press, 2019).

I started kindergarten that fall you went off to Guyana.
Granny cut off my dreadlocks. She knew how to press

and curl, ponytail, and cornrow but palm roll
locks till the roots stiffened with beeswax,

glistens like licorice, she didn’t know.
For that matter, no one in the Projects knew

what to do with hair left natural, left
unparted and wild—they were afraid to touch

that unmothered part of themselves. Each snip
made each one alive and each one dead.

And if you said goodbye, it was an honest whisper,
short and fine in your throat.

She cut my hair like a boy’s
who hadn’t been to the barber for a month,

and I sat at the cafeteria table alone for weeks.
They couldn’t make sense of me, my classmates

with their gender-proper hairstyles. I didn’t
want anything to do with franks & beans,

those pucks of grilled meat. I waited at lunchtime
for peanut butter and jelly and was hesitant to eat

bread that wasn’t our color. It was hard
not hearing your voice each morning,

throughout the day. And unwilling to correct them
when they said my name wrong, I gave into

the Sizzlean; the fried chicken crunched
between my teeth, I could’ve bitten both of your hands

for leaving me here, each finger for the gunshots that rang
the night, the footsteps running on the roof, the gravel mashed

deeper and deeper into my sleep. Flocks of butterflies
broke my skin and I was shatter where I stood,

a whole constellation of wondering if I could throw
myself to the sky, coat it with urgent wishes

you’d see that I missed you, that the barter was unfair,
that you mistook me for sheep.

from Hurrah's Nest (Visual Artists Collective, 2012) by Arisa White. Copyright © 2012 by Arisa White. Used with permission of the author.

Aging, at all. I want that. And to fall
perhaps most honestly in love
beside the ocean, in a home I’ve paid
for by doing as I like: drinking good
wine, dusting sugar over a croissant, or
the stage play I’m writing myself into.
Aging Black woman in neutral summer
turtleneck. Known. And jogging. Lonesome
enough. Eating homemade lavender
ice cream, the moon blooming
through the kitchen window. The distant
sound of waves. Learning
French as a second language.
Votre pâte merveilleux, I smile back.
And then, just like that! Falling, cautiously,
for my busy, middle-aged lover,
who needs me, but has never truly seen me
until now. Our Black friends, celebrating
with hors d’oeuvres. Our Black children
growing older.

Copyright © 2022 by Rio Cortez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 22, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

and the boy
the   mother’s

                                                    fluvial hair



                                                    burnt umber


the daughter                   just


                        out of
                                       arms reach

                                                gone already



they found the boy in time to save him. many years
from  now  someone will tell him the awful truth of
all that was lost.               the bruises on their  backs.
shoulders. waists. how two women. mother.  sister.
carried him.   gave him their water.   on that day he
will learn   all there is  to  know  of brown  and gold












Copyright © 2022 by Joaquín Zihuatanejo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 1, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

On a visit to my Amá’s, she drives us to the DMV.
She must renew her license every few months.
The asylum case has not yet been approved.
Not enough evidence that home is unsafe.
The line is long. The DMV is inside a mall.
In America, everything is for sale. Migrants
pay for safety. We pay people to believe
that what we tell them is true, especially
when we have spared them the hardest
facts to hold. Immigration, DMV, school,
and medical forms ask for our stories.
We pay for our stories too. We pay in smiles,
pretend laughs, head nods, empty stomachs,
panic attacks reserved for elevators,
migraines that will last four days but go
unnamed :: unuttered. After thirty-eight, or
forty minutes, we advance seven or so people
and the Carter’s window is visible from where
Amá and I stand. Overalls. My heart raises.
Eyes begin to shake. Mall lighting hurts
my eyes. I see five Carter’s logos and know
there is only one. I slam my back against the
glass windows. People look (and pretend they
don’t). I try to find my inhaler. It’s not in my
pockets. I close my eyes. I think about a boy.
Kissing a boy. I think about him more. I open
my eyes and look for my mother. Avoid looking
at the Carter’s again. The DMV does not
renew the license. Something about an error
or a glitch :: a document and migration :: (maybe)
a mother and a child. At five, I wore a pair of
overalls. Crossed a border in them too.

Copyright © 2022 by Alan Pelaez Lopez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 25, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

Don’t call me immigrant
I am the New American 
striving in New America
as a New American
I am not your invader
not an animal
nor criminal
I am a just person
just striving 
in a New America

In New America I am
a full-time student 
overtime worker
volunteering in my free time
if I plan enough ahead for free time
if I can even afford the free time
if my free time is approved

I work hard in New America
3rd shift warehouse 
2nd shift my house
always on call
no days off
freelance for life
4 jobs a week
blue and white collar

Don’t call me immigrant
I am the New American 
surviving in New America
as a New American
I am not your invader
not an animal
nor criminal
I am a just person
just surviving
in a New America

This is New America
student loans for all
high rent 
higher utilities 
low pay
rising healthcare costs
the cost of living
no living wage
living enraged 
my cousins encaged 
for wanting to live in
a safer part of
New America

Don’t call me immigrant
I am the New American 
living in New America
as a New American
I am not your invader
not an animal
nor criminal
I am a just person
just living
in a New America

Strong and proud
able to withstand 
the distance I have traveled
the distance from my family 
the distance between us
the distance of our dialects
the distance in our churches
the distance in our homes
the distance between my ancestors
and my grandchildren
the distance from the streets
to the dorm rooms
the distance from the field
to the corner office suite

Don’t call me immigrant
I am the New American 
dreaming of New America
as a New American
I am not your invader
not an animal
nor criminal
I am a just person
just dreaming 
of a New America

Old America
don’t be afraid
we are all America
North America
Central America
South America
We are all Americans
We all strive in Americas
We all survive in Americas
We all live in Americas
They are all the same America

We all dream of a greater America
I want you to be paid a living wage
live in affordable housing
without college debt
or medical debt
or credit card debt
or national debt
I want no more racism
I am speaking of a New America
I am part of New America
whether you like it or not
so join me, please

Copyright © 2020 by Huascar Medina. From Un Mango Grows in Kansas (Spartan Press, 2020). Used with the permission of the poet.

Translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert

I have dreamed of escape, and dreamed
of your silken things all over the floor.
Along a pier sits a new mother,
all of fifteen, who nurses on the hour.

I have dreamed of escape, of ever-afters
Sighed from the ladder below a prow.
I have dreamed of a mother,
A few fresh sprigs of green,
And dawn like a hope chest lined with stars.

     All along a pier. . . 
All along a drowning throat.





He soñado una fuga. Y he soñado
tus encajes disperses en la alcoba.
A lo largo de un muelle, alguna madre;
y sus quince años dando el seno a una hora.

He soñado una fuga. Un “para siempre”
suspirado en la escala de una proa;
he soñado una madre;
unas frescas matitas de verdura,
y el ajuar constelado de una aurora.

     A lo largo de un muelle. . . 
Y a lo largo de un cuello que se ahoga!

From Los heraldos negros (Editorial Losada, S. A., 1918) by César Vallejo. Translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert. This poem is in the public domain.