Erica Michaels Hollander, Ph.D., J.D., practiced civil trial law and litigation for 33 years. She was a member of the bar in New York, California, Nevada and Colorado and admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Communication Studies from the University of Denver and taught Public Speaking, Argument, Persuasion, Freedom of Speech and other topics at Metropolitan State University. She has also worked in and directed programs in prejudice reduction and leadership for the National Conference on Community and Justice. She trained in Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy with Associates for Community Interaction in the San Francisco Bay area and is now a nationally certified Trainer Educator Practitioner (T.E.P.) of the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy. She has taught at Old College School of Law, University of Nevada, Reno School of Continuing Education, Metropolitan State College in Denver, Red Rocks Community College and the University of Denver. She has published in law reviews and journals, as well as in psychology and poetry. She paints and caters to the World’s Foremost Dog.
I put on my blue hiking boots while getting my face well licked, and
We go find the harness for the pooch. It involves careful stepping into
Which must be followed by strapping on the fanny pack full of supplies--
Baggies, water, folding water dish, treats, bear spray, handkerchief,
Glasses---outside the jacket, (evenings add neon green reflective vest,)
With warm hat and gloves this season, and maybe even yak trax.
Wag, wag, wag, wag, wag.
We mosey out into the neighborhood, linked by a wholly irrelevant leash,
Since we would never never part on purpose, and
In the correct order of things, I must lead the way,
Perhaps passing some browsing ungulates on the driveway.
We bark at no one.
A little business is done and our walking resumes,
Wag, wag, wag, wag, wag.
Moving on to the pathway that runs amongst grasses,
Oregon grape, scrub oak, fallen leaves. Crunching. Lots of things to sniff,
Scattered everywhere in patches of snow,
On the curves of small hillsides. Sometimes we cross paths
With others on their constitutionals--
Ken, his hat with earflaps, and his coat-wearing Vizsla,
Sandy with her fisherman’s hat and Bella the friendly lab,
And a slim young woman we know only
As the stout, self-important French bulldog pup’s mom.
Wag, wag, wag, wag, wag,
How happy we are to see them out, too.
If cold wind blows strong I urge that sniffing be shorter,
And I can most often prevent much backtracking,
But sometimes things are in the air that simply demand address.
In most cases, we pee on those to mark our passage
And our ownership. We go up to a point and loop back,
Stopping to practice sitting and staying, punctuated by treats.
More business is accomplished, more marks made.
Wag, wag, wag, wag, wag.
We return home to dispense praise and treats and
Look adoringly at one another, and
Congratulate ourselves on all we have done this morning.
This is not my country poem
This place looks like home, but It’s not my country.
My old country was far from perfect, but
We tried to do the right thing when we could.
My country was welcoming
And offered safety to the dispossessed.
It used to strive toward toward its own betterment.
It treasured difference and measured human worth
in contribution, not in fame, dollars or deceit.
It honored service and recognized what
Was given and at what cost. Slippery was
Never its aim. It praised courage, honor,
And rewarded dedication. My old
Country had many flaws, but loved variety,
Respected effort, needed dissent,
Tried to care for its children, and protect its people,
Treasure its wildernesses, nurture ingenuity.
The melody of that country was hope and aspiration.
The lamp lifted by its golden door
Shone through the fog of harbor
For those who came for refuge.
We did not tear gas people at the border, separate families,
Or write numbers on bare arms of children.
I cannot recognize this country.
My name is Francisco Jesus Cantu.
I walked from Honduras ten years ago.
To make a new life in these Norte States.
And I worked real long and hard to do that.
When I went to work for Border Patrol
Thought I had become real New Mexican,
With papers, driver’s license, apartment.
Somehow I thought I could possibly help,
Took a clinical, hands-on, EMT course.
But mostly what we did at work was to
Shut all the poor brown people out,
Tell them they should turn around
And go home, go back to where they came from.
Sometimes I saw angry agents dump water
Into that unforgiving desert sand.
Men, women, children bullied and threatened
Both by their coyotes and border guards.
Once I drove a bus full of exhausted,
Thirsty, dusty, hungry, sad brown people
With small children to an empty warehouse
Where they would stay behind tall wire fences
Waiting for whatever came—hearings with no
Lawyers, translation, no understanding,
Judges with backlogs and pressing quotas,
Shipment back to their points of origin.
The children were taken from their parents,
Screaming, numbers marked on their naked arms.
The bosses said now to close the border,
Separate the Latino families.
This tactic was to deter people from
El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala,
Fleeing tides of violence, drugs, gangs,
From seeking asylum in the US.
But how would they know? What choices had they?
I could not do this job any longer.
Seems I am not a real American.
Born in 1685, I so very
Sadly died In 1750.
Done in by an English quack eye doctor.
Two surgeries cost me both sight and life.
I can tell you I was very saddened.
I had so much I still wanted to do.
So much music yet left to write just then.
I swear, I had a lot more on my mind.
Not that I had not been busy early.
All my big family were musicians.
They loved to make joyful noises.
I best liked to be in the middle of
The harmony, playing the viola.
I had been a church organist and played,
I led the choirs of four local churches,
I sired twenty children by my two wives.
(My three sons turned out to be composers.)
I was pretty good at it all, so that
When I asked to leave service of Wilhelm
Of Weimar, he preferred I stay on at court.
He threw me into prison for a month.
While there I wrote some studies for organ.
I must also allude to Buxtehude,
Vivaldi, Telemann, and Pachelbel,
And to Italian opera as well--
They taught me how to sing the Lord’s praises.
Most of all I wrote and wrote and wrote:
Toccatas, fugues, the Mass in B Minor,
Suites for many instruments, harmonies,
Counterpoint, lieder, organ works, canons,
Preludes, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,
The Well-Tempered Clavier, St. John’s Passion,
Partitas, cantatas, and sonatas,
Concerti, motets, St. Matthew’s Passion,
Songs, arias, oratorios, chorales.
About 1100 hundred you still have.
So you see, I would have liked to keep going.
I wish I had not met that rotten quack.