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After the Election: A Father Speaks to His Son

By M. Soledad Caballero

He says, they will not take us.
They want the ones who love
another god, the ones whose
joy comes with five prayers and
songs to the sun in the mornings
and at night. He says, they will
not want us. They want the ones
whose tongues stumble over
silent e’s, whose voices creak
when a th suddenly appears
in the middle of a word.

They want the ones who cannot hide
copper skin like we can. He says,
I am old. I lived through one revolution.
We can hide our skin.
We have read the books.
He says, we are the quiet kind, the ones
who stay late and do not speak,
the ones who do not bring trumpets
or trouble. He says, we are safe in silence.
We must become ghosts.

I think, so many are already dust.
tried to stay thin, be small, tried
breaking bone and voice, tried
to be soft. So many tried to be
empty, to be barely breath. To be
still enough to be left alone. Become
shadows, trying not to be bodies.

It never works. To become nothing.
They come for the shadows, too.




Listen as M. Soledad Caballero reads "After the Election: A Father Speaks to His Son."

Added: Wednesday, March 7, 2018  /  M. Soledad Caballero‚Äôs poem was awarded Third Place in the 2018 Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Contest, sponsored by Split This Rock. Sonia Sanchez lent her generous acumen as judge for the contest. This poem was revised in October 2020.
M. Soledad Caballero
Photo by Carly Masiroff.

M. Soledad Caballero is Professor of English at Allegheny College. Her scholarship focuses on British Romanticism, travel writing, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS), and interdisciplinarity. She is a CantoMundo fellow, has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net, has been a finalist for the Missouri Review's Jeffrey E. Smith Poetry Prize, a finalist for the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award, and was winner of the 2019 Joy Harjo Poetry Award sponsored by Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts. Her poems have appeared in the Missouri Review, the Iron Horse Literary Review, Memorius, the Crab Orchard Review, and other venues. Her first collection won the 2019 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award and will be published by Red Hen Press in 2021.  

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