Parts of this poem are derived from USCIS forms I-130: Petition for Alien Relative and I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence.
alien relative, naturalized
borders stepped over our bodies
dotted lines cross the ocean
you been to the U S ?
this land is my monster,
this land is your monster
swallow a salty sea
what dictatorship got propped?
what communism stomped?
in your country, slaves have statues
and faces on money
you say white america is the
worst white in the world,
but tips exceedingly well
i am filing this petition for my monster,
gained status through marriage
too broke for bands
gone down to city hall
by an authority vested in drones
by the state of new york
by the states, united
we Did. write your name
in my native alphabet
celebrate, sip champagne atop the graves
of new york city slaves
on duane street; fifteen thousand ghosts
swarming around us
not counting the algonquin
i solemnly swear, to never file a petition
for any other alien
you were not a native of fidel’s cuba
you are not for that commie shit
do not pass go, do not collect a welfare check
i swear, i haven’t aided any alien
trafficked brown bodies on ellis
i swear, i never peddled my ass
and never intended to sabotage
kidnap, hijack, control, overthrow
the Government, never intended acts of torture,
genocide, killing, sexual contact
forced or threatened
my alien, what do you know of
private prisons? or prison camps,
detention, labor, the right to bear
a U S citizen child?
not hispanic / not not hispanic
select all applicable boxes
enter the marriage in good faith
select only one box
i can read and understand english
why can’t you learn my language,
asked the algonquin.
we immigrant. we alien. take a number.
further, certify the marriage
in accordance with the customs
of the place, not the purpose
of procuring human rights
my alien, pledge allegiance
to ghosts, sunken ships, human cargo,
buried tribes, naked children
bloated corpses, auction blocks
and above all, true love.
Alexandra Watson is Executive Editor of Apogee Journal, a publication dedicated to highlighting underrepresented voices. She teaches writing at Columbia University, Baruch College, and at the Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America. She’s writing a novel about insomnia.