from “Popular Culture & Cruel Work”

for Chinga La Migra

If a woman illegally crossing
The U.S.-Mexico border can sing
The Border Patrol agent’s favorite
Selena song, will he still detain her?
What if he does & later writes about
Her in the patrol vehicle’s back seat
Singing his favorite Selena song?
Will the Selena fans who read his book
Like it? What if that scene in Reservoir
Dogs where Mr. Blonde tortures a cop had
Been choreographed to "Bidi Bidi
Bom Bom," instead of "Stuck in the Middle
With You?" Would the Border Patrol agent
Be more or less likely to like that scene?


Copyright © 2018 by Wendy Trevino. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 13, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem is one in a series of sonnets on borders, racism, and social domination. It is critical of ex-Border Patrol agent Francisco Cantú’s memoir, The Line Becomes a River, and the particular tendency of liberal memoirs to humanize structurally racist institutions like the U.S. Border Patrol. Institutions that position individuals to reinforce racial hierarchy will always be inhumane, regardless of the individuals who work for them. Comrades in Austin, New York, and the Bay Area shut down speaking events associated with the release of the memoir in February 2018, and this poem was written in solidarity with those direct actions.”
—Wendy Trevino