José Chavez


Jose Chavez is an author-educator raised in Venice, CA, attended college in UC Berkeley, and received MA in ESL at Cal St. San Bernardino. His poetry has been published in the Multilingual Educator Journal and Inlandia Anthology. His first bilingual children's poetry book: Estrellitas y Nopales-Little Stars and Cactus, won three awards from the International Latino Book Awards in 2017. He lives in Moreno Valley, CA.

Twitter: @chavezauthor 


Building This Wall

“Quisieron enterrarnos, pero no sabían que éramos semillas.” —Mexican Proverb



Let’s build it from Brownsville, Texas, to Rosarito, Baja
California, north to Seattle, east to Bangor Maine  

cut down the California redwoods, shape them into spikes,
dig them deep, and let their tops reach the mountains 

use pig iron stakes from Pennsylvania, add twisted
steel, and broken ideologies to make it strong and durable 

frame it with knotty pine, straw, and sand, dry wall it,
which works well, unless there’s an earthquake 

use cinder blocks, mortar, and bags of oranges for sale,
reinforce it, and seal it with immigrant sweat and blood 

slap on tariff & trade agreements disguised as graffiti
add red baseball caps shouting promises about something great

let Woody Guthrie sing about the length of this wall,
& Maya Angelou write about the real meaning of freedom 

let Diego Rivera create vivid murals in nearby chapels
where frightened refugees search for dignity & sanctuary 

let César Chavez, & the United Farm Workers
march around the wall seven times until it crumbles. 



Give the wall eyes to see a family shatter when a father
disappears after buying milk and never returns 

give the wall ears to hear soft words in a meeting
of a mother and child separated by political policy in Tijuana 

give the wall touch to feel warmth pass through slits
in that fence where fingers embrace and hearts connect

give the wall compassion, a moment of silence
for a young boy who left loved ones alone, to escape 

gang violence far away, crossing scorched deserts 
only to perish with a backpack full of hopes 

give the wall a heart for all children to find empowerment
& equity in education, so dreams and reality touch the sky 

give the wall the breath of peace and opportunity for those
who’ve crossed & become threads in our daily lives 

give the wall wings so that it can rise on thermals to meet
the rising sun past factories, farms, and fields where labor 

endless labor provides the necessities of life: potatoes,
onions, avocados, tomatoes & lettuce for our hamburgers 

let it rise to the jet stream to broadcast a reply to the struggle
of dreamers amid the sound of pounding, marching feet 

let clouds turn justice into rain that drowns out
cries of desesperación, pobreza, y hambre stretching 

from the San Joaquin Valley, to Miami shores, to New
York City amid rich towers, & a shimmering skyline 

this wall, this wall was built for you & me.

© The Acentos Review 2019