Irreconcilable Differences

Job? Yeah, I knew him.
Nice guy, I guess. It’s just...
Look, I’ve gotta be honest,
We all make mistakes, right?
And, I mean, all things being equal
He *was* vindicated. So, I
Mean, you’ve gotta understand:
Eli, Bil, and I were just calling it like we saw it!
And, ok, he turned out to be innocent
But how could *we* have known?
If you ask me, he’s just
A bit sensitive.
What? I’m sorry -
I missed what you said.

Oh.
No.

We don’t speak anymore.

Asilomar State Beach, CA. 2017. Credit: AJ Joven

Human Capital

These hands are tired, 
Friend. Weathered after
Years of picking
Under the Delano sun.
A life spent setting your
Table that I might set mine.

This back is broken,
Friend. Weary and sore after
Decades stooped over fields
Of spinach and vines of grapes.
My health given for 38 cents a pound
To get my children educated at 50k a year.

I am too old,
Friend. With knees meant for
Treading on soft, moist earth,
Now creaky and sallow
From kneeling in dirt - in the shadow
Of your benign allyship.

Who will do the labor?

You value this work
But miss Me.
A history left across the ocean
Of schools and books and family and
Loves.

Lost.

 

 

Sunset at Asilomar State Park. 2017. Credit: AJ Joven

Sunset at Asilomar State Park. 2017. Credit: AJ Joven

Away

Out here, I feel a shift;
Familiar, but in the way of an old friend
I haven’t seen in a while.
Solo drives through deserted roads
Have a unique feel:
Therapeutic, calming, healing,
Restorative.

But this feels different

Because the only thing I’ve broken
Is the physical proximity to you
And
Our little one.

There was a time when this
Made sense to me:
A life spent living
Out of a suitcase
And staring out from
Behind a steering wheel.
When once I thought ‘itinerant’ and ‘ascetic’
Were synonymous with ‘prophetic.’

A life spent away.

But hearts, I’ve learned, are healed
In other ways. And ‘missionary’ doesn’t
Have to mean a lonely death
On the doorstep of
A far-off place.

I am restored by the familiar shape
Of your body next to mine.
Even as it has changed along our
Nine month wait for the arrival of
Our newest member.

I am healed by the soft to LOUD, s l owtofast
Chime of your laugh that
Comes in response to your own
Joke.

I am found in the warm
Recognition, the softening of your iris,
As I walk through the door.
30 hours away was once a small ask.
It is now on the edge of too much.

Cliffs of Moher. 2015. Credit: AJ Joven

Cliffs of Moher. 2015. Credit: AJ Joven

Silence

I love this memory of you:
Head tilted, hand on hip
Other arm around my wife.
Easy, free, loved.

It doesn’t capture your voice
And that booming laugh of yours: Hearty, full, and lilting like a songbird
Through a megaphone.

I miss it.

You came to my wedding
And twirled my wife around.
I hugged your child
And we all made plans to visit each other.

I miss you.

You used to talk scripture
And In-N-Out
And how much you liked my wedding Barong
And goad me about the Dodgers.

I miss us.

They come for me
And I see you there, still.
Your mouth doesn’t move
And your eyes cast down.
Their hands grip firm,
Face so close, their breath mists into mine.
I’m being hauled away.
My wife, in that dress you said you loved
Has already been placed in the van.
We pull away from the home
Where we’d hosted you and your husband
On your trip back to California.
You’re there, like Lot’s wife
And I’m still waiting
As you shrink from view

For words that never come.
 

View of border wall from the Mexican side. 2016. Credit: AJ Joven

View of border wall from the Mexican side. 2016. Credit: AJ Joven

Blast Center

I see the parcel drifting

Lazily against the burning sky.

The whites of the parachute

Contrasting with the purples and reds 

And yellows of the sunset.

Death, it seems, will ride in not

On a stallion, but like a hellish parade float:

Taking its sweet time.

 

I put down down my rake and search

For you. Your black hair flowing out

From under the sun hat I always tease

You about. Your back to me, delicate 

Shoulders taut and focus concentrated 

On the weeds choking your beloved orchids.

I touch your back, ask you to drop

Your spade and gather your familiar hands

Into mine. 

 

I never want to forget.

 

The parcel has dropped from view

And you look at me in that mix

Of puzzlement and mischief I fell for

All those years ago.  As the sky

Fills with thunderous noise and unnatural 

Light, I keep my eyes on you.

 

No, I never want to forget.

 

And as our world collapses around us

In a hail of earth and glass,

I pray you know you are l-

 

Un Mensaje Sobre Inmigracion

La posición de nuestra Iglesia Católica sobre inmigración desde el principio ha sido una de bienvenida. El Pentateuco, es el nombre hebreo conferido a los primeros cinco libros de la biblia, caracteriza docenas de referencias de acoger al extranjero y está contenido como un acto de misericordia por Jesus en Mateo capítulo 25 (veinticinco). Además, nosotros entendemos que si no fuera por la hospitalidad y caridad de la gente de Egipto, ni la sagrada familia con el niño Jesus ni Moisés quien era un menor de edad sin acompañamiento, hubieran alcanzado la edad de su ministerio público. La razón por la cual el mandamiento de Dios de recibir y tratar al extranjero es con una bienvenida fue simple: La gente de Israel también una vez fueron extranjeros. Del mismo modo, muchos americanos tienen raíces de todas partes del mundo y nuestra experiencia ha sido pulida y fortalecida por ese encuentro cultural. En las historias de los irlandeses huyendo de unahambruna, los chinos huyendo una revolución, los somalíes huyendo de la guerra y los jóvenes de Centro América huyendo una violencia extrema de pandillas, vemos paralelos de nuestra sagrada familia y a moises. Hacemos memoria las grandes obras que podrían no haber sido logradas si no fuera por la generosidad, misericordia, y la bienvenida extendida al extranjero en Egipto.

A nuestra comunidad inmigrante, por favor sepan que su Iglesia y su obispo esta con ustedes. Nosotros continuamos defendiendo y orando por una reforma inmigratoria misericordiosa, compasiva, y justa tanto como un alejamiento de pólizas que crean los ambientes que obligan a los migrantes de abandonar a su querida patria en busca de paz, estabilidad, y mejores oportunidades. Estamos conscientes de sus cargas como muchos de nosotros, yo incluido, somos inmigrantes que caminamos por el mismo camino, navegamos los mismos mares, o volamoscruzando alos mismos cielos como tú lo hiciste. Tus cargas, sabemos, son muchas y nosotros esperamos poder caminar contigo ahora y siempre para poder hacer esa carga ligera.

Entonces oramos que el Espíritu descienda y permita una transformación radical en los corazones de nuestra comunidad:

- Que nuestros hermanos y hermanas inmigrantes puedan sentir bienvenidos y en casa en su Madre Iglesia.

- Que las autoridades gubernamentales puedan encontrar soluciones para proporcionar alivio a nuestra comunidad migrante.

- A los que tienen miedo o se openen a los indocumentados, que puedan ver a Cristo en estas personas y busquen, como nos dice el Papa francisco, construir puentes no paredes.

A Message on Immigration

Our Church’s stance on immigration has been one of welcome from the very beginning. The Pentateuch features dozens of references to welcoming the stranger and it is contained as an act of mercy given by Jesus in Mt. 25. More, we understand that were it not for the kindness and charity of people in Egypt, neither the Holy Family with infant Jesus, nor Moses – who himself was an unaccompanied minor – would have reached the age of their public ministry. The reason for the command from God to treat strangers with welcome was simple: the people of Israel were once strangers themselves. Similarly, many Americans have roots from all across the globe and our experience as a nation has been burnished and strengthened by that cultural encounter. In the stories of the Irish fleeing famine, the Chinese fleeing revolution, Somalis fleeing war, and Central American youth fleeing extreme gang violence, we see parallels to our Holy Family and to Moses. We call to mind the great works that might not have been accomplished were it not for the generosity, mercy, and welcome extended by strangers in Egypt. We call to mind here, that we can participate in that same act of mercy be extending a welcome and creating a just environment for our immigrant community, now.

To our immigrant community, please know that your Church and your Bishop are with you. We continue to advocate and pray for merciful, compassionate, and just immigration reform, as well as a turn away from policies that create the environments that force migrants to abandon their beloved homelands in search of peace, stability, and better opportunities. We are aware of your burdens as many of us, myself included, are immigrants that have walked the same paths, sailed the same seas, or have flown across the same skies as you have. Your burdens, we know, are many, and we hope to be able to walk with you now, and always, to provide some way to make that burden light.

We pray, then, for the Spirit to descend and allow for a radical transformation in the hearts of our community:

 - That our immigrant brothers and sisters might feel welcome and home in their Mother Church.

- That government authorities might find solutions to provide relief to our migrant community.

- To those that are afraid or resistant, that they might see Christ in these people and seek to, as Pope Francis says, build bridges and not walls.