Man Made Materials: Jessica Helen Lopez

The chain link knows nothing of beating hearts, of lax

flesh or parting fingers. Knows nothing of separation.

How it splits a mother’s chest open like manzana

beneath a sutured knife. Juice of the blood. How

a father becomes impotent because politicians

are in bed with the business men. Brown bodies

turn a profit when they are behind fences.

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How babies are interned. How brown babies are interned.

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The chain link and the aluminum blankets can’t hear.

They own neither ear nor eye. No sight. No sound. Only

malleable chemistry that is fashioned, shaped as

accoutrements to incarcerate the child-bodies,

rounded up and splayed upon slabs of pavement.

The pavement never remembers.

3

The paper doesn’t know if it is a green card or not.

Doesn’t know the difference between a passport

and a deportation warrant. It certainly doesn’t care

if it is a page in the bible or a constitution.

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The desert is just a desert. In all its glittering,

thirsty glory. It was merely born that way. It never

knew and will never know about man made borders.

2

A prison is only a collection of angles and hooked wire.

It doesn’t understand it was meant to be a jail cell.

A jail is unknowing of itself. It cannot recognize grief

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All of the keys and all of the locks in this world

will never suffer. But metal can be a dangerous

thing. This we know.

2

We know that men, in the name of power

and devotion to the coin will eat the poor

for dinner. Will place us on plates

of gold. Tuck the linen into the starch of the collar. Wet

lips with the blood of the innocents and call

it a delicacy.

Their wives will exclaim over the recipe,

the exotic snuff of it. Pick their pearly whites

with our bones.

2

We know. I know, they gobble the spirit of their

brothers and sisters never to

acknowledge we are kin.

2

This is how animal becomes less than human.

How human is less than the blood it was born in.

Even less than machine and metal and tool.

2

This is how their teeth are akin to chainlink.

Their tongues a paper ballot. The ink

dribbles from the sides of their mouths as they chew.

Masticate their jaws. Pay their dinner bill with plastic.

2

The ones who own everything. Who own

the mineral, the land, the stainless-steel toilets

in all of the prisons. Who think they own you,

own me.

2

Who don’t understand that the heart is a

manzana. An apple that grew from the tree

but was never enslaved by it. The branch is

a benevolent passenger.

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This is how an apple is different

than chain link. How, in this knowledge,

the righteous will one day

inherit the earth.