Friday, June 03, 2022

Reasonable Suspicion

This poem was originally published in Poetry of Resistance, University of Arizona Press, 2016,  edited by Francisco X. Alarcón and Odilia Galván Rodríguez.  Poetry of Resistance was a protest against Arizona's racist anti-immigrant law SB 1070. In addition to the book, more than 3000 protest poems were eventually posted or presented on La Bloga and other venues.  La Bloga's Em Sedano was intimately involved with the project. 


By Manuel Ramos

For any lawful stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of this state or a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.

The people defined
with reasonable suspicion
are everywhere
being anywhere

and that’s suspicious

Viejita hunched
over loads of
dirty hotel laundry
stands as short
as my impossibly short

Young roofer
with insolent walk
wears my father’s nose
as though they were brothers
from the same regal line
of kings and warriors

so suspicious

Joke-telling scrubber
of the Pollo Rico grill
could be my cousin
if my cousin
had lived
through Nam

Laughing girl
cleaning toilets
spooks me
with eyes
that must have been
stolen from my mother

very suspicious

Daily encounters
with familiar strangers
do not subdue the hate
or calm the hard wind
and we are, again,
the usual suspects

Arizona drowns
in sands of suspicion
as it denies
of my family
are saviors



Manuel Ramos lives in Denver. His latest novel,  Angels in the Wind: A Mile High Noir, is a finalist for the 2022 Shamus Award in the category of Best Original Paperback P.I, Novel.

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