(AP Photo/Angelo Carconi, Lapresse

The Flight of Wingless Birds: The Roma's Lament*

by Cheryl L. Daytec

Some 150 Gypsies whose camp was dismantled have taken refuge in one of Rome's most ancient basilicas, creating a standoff Saturday with city officials trying to get them out…Some people who had gone outside for work or to procure food hadn't been allowed back inside.- Daily Reporter, 23 April 2011

Almost 300 Roma have fled their homes in Hungary in fear of far-right vigilantes, creating fresh problems for a government facing international criticism over a new constitution and media law.-Irishtimes.com, 23 April 2011

the police often come. “Go home!”
where is home?
we were born in obscurity
between nothingness and death
the world did not celebrate our birth
neither do we, years after

we knock on Heaven’s door
alas, we are not among the chosen
who deserve its grace

where do we go from the darkness behind?
on the streets between rushing cars
selling wares- sometimes lies- to strangers
eager for the green light?
or the battered cardboard boxes
on the sidewalks where we rest
our weary bodies, rain or shine?

like birds hatched without wings
we are
chance in its blundered shape
hope limping on the edge of death
we are
a ramshackle car
with almost empty gas tank
negotiating a wet dirt road
buried in thick fog

we exist in a present that refuses to fade
into the past whose prodigal abjection
we wish to bury in the interstices of amnesia
our own history objurgates itself
it was written not by our hands
we dread to trail the road
into tomorrow’s gate
leading to a golden city above
that may not welcome us
now we know- its foyer on Earth
has no space for our cold bodies

thorns on our paths-
we clip them with each step

but oh, how they grow and multiply each day

*Thanks to my friend Butch Espere who gave this poem its title.