The Sunday Poem: Margaret Randall... Canary in the Mine 1

Last year, Arizona passed the controversial H.B. 2281, a bill banning school curriculum “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.” Along with the bill, a number of ethnic studies books have been removed from school district shelves.  Some of those book are Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, six books by DCF poet Jimmy Santiago Baca, Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States 1492 to Present, Yo Soy Joaquin/I am Joaquin by Rudolfo Gonzales, and The Tempest by William Shakespeare.  A button for the banned book list is available on the Librotrafican...

A caravan to smuggle the banned books into Arizona is stopping here.  Tonight there is a reading in support of the group at 7:00PM at the Outpost Performance Space, 210 Yale Blvd SE: Sponsored by the Albuquerque Cultural Conference & Defendemos Librorch 4.

Suggested $5 donation for Librotraficante. Readers include: Jimmy Santiago Baca, Hakim Bellamy, Gary Brower, Carlos Contreras, Brian Hendrickson, Jessica Helen Lopez, Don McIver, Yasmeen Najmi, Mary Oishi, Margaret Randall, Levi Romero, Andrea Serrano, Richard Vargas, Tanaya Winder.  Hope to see you there!

This morning's poem by Margaret Randall.

Canary in the Mine 1

Chained to a School Board desk in Tucson, Arizona,
students protest the erasure of In Lak Ech—
You Are My Other Me.
Democracy beats them bloody.

Devious as Helen at Troy, Western Civ
and Last Supper pop-ups,
memory ancient as maize
and dangerous as who we know we are.

After Nogales, Tucson, Chicago and north,
Law becomes hate’s trail of crumbs.
The walking dead climb aboard
an underground train of hope.

Dark ghosts breach borders rigged by men
on monumental steeds
who keep order
in the history we’re taught.

Beyond the front-line border wall
invisible replicas fall like dominoes
across the next ridge and the next.
On the desert all the borders die.

Every brown child who fears questions,
papers, and the pale green migra van,
every child of every hue taught nothing
but how to score on the master’s test,

marks time because thinking is dangerous
and living by the rules
foolproof prelude
to a future where none will hear the song.

When the floodwaters recede and fires turn to ash,
when they come to see what’s left
they will find a million dead canaries:
singing in perfect harmony.

Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email

Views: 205

Comment by Margaret Randall on March 4, 2012 at 8:21am

Thanks for posting this this morning, Jon! I will be reading it tonight at The Outpost Performance Space. Lots of other great poets will participate. It should be a terrific program. We hope to have a big crowd to support our efforts to help the Tucson students fight this neo-fascist assault on their multiple cultures, their history, and their right to a diverse and inclusive education.

Comment by Julie Brokken on March 4, 2012 at 10:15am

Powerful!  Let's keep the canaries alive!  and healthy!  See you tonight @ The Outpost!

Comment by Dee Cohen on March 4, 2012 at 12:54pm

Very powerful and important words Margaret. Thanks for putting them so well. Dee

Comment by Dee Cohen on March 5, 2012 at 5:15am

Nice turn out last night. Both of your poems sounded great live. Dee


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