Jesus Fish Redux


Spray painted red
on buildings marked for post-
Arab Spring cleaning, the letter
Nun looks like a cyclops
smiley face: have a terrifying
day and please don’t let
the door hit you, bye
now. Nasara house tags
morphing into hashtags
of a social solidarity
movement. Echoes
of signs, crossing


Perilous token

traced in dirt, passed between
two conscripts joined
by ankle iron in dust and haze
of a traveling Roman circus:
Syrian Christian and converted Jew,
one hundred seventeen years from
when the Christ was hanged.

In those days, faint
little fish bones whispered
a dangerous Name.

Dorsal arc drawn
by gnarled finger
adjacent absent thumb,
tremulous ventral by
palsied hand –

how long, this ancient
line of suffering, silver
fish on pickup bumpers,
stuck there next to a shout:
migrants get out.

© 2018 David A. Welch


Why Not Open Borders?


Greece to Dismiss 750 Refugees to Turkey: Report

The question of open borders is complex, to say the least. I reckon most people in the United States, whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, oppose the idea of open borders. Even Bernie Sanders opposes open borders! I’ve only recently begun to give serious thought to this question. While I’m certainly in no position to make an argumentative case for open borders, I can at least point out a few of the weaker arguments against it.

Consider, for instance, the assertion that we can’t have a country without borders. What that’s really saying is that we can’t have a country without restrictive immigration laws. Such an assertion is patent nonsense. Open borders doesn’t mean no borders. It means borders across which all people can pass with relative freedom. It doesn’t mean there’s no longer such a thing as individual nations with laws, customs, and, yes, citizenship requirements that are unique to a particular land mass defined by a set of geographical boundaries. Nor does it mean we no longer have a process for scrutinizing people who cross our borders, in order to prevent terrorists or dangerous drugs from entering our country.

As for what open borders does mean, why it is a morally compelling idea, and why the current border control regime is immoral, the following article makes an interesting case:

7 reasons why we should have open borders

The poet A. E. Stallings has written evocatively and powerfully on the question of borders. Here is one of her epigrammatic poems about the refugee crisis:

Proposed epitaph for drowned refugee children

Go tell the bureaucrats, passer by, that all is ship-shape, fine.
The stuff that trickles from your eye is only a little brine.

~ A. E. Stallings



Just keep busy
the mole team leader
tells my heart, We will
carry your hope deeper.
Eat your stone without complaint.
It is the dense beam
that lights our toil.

© 2018 David A. Welch

African Child


There is in his world a sadness beyond
The comprehension of Western aid.
It condescends to embrace
Our greater poverty, confounding
Our inconsolable sympathy.

His hut is a construct
Of manure, ash, and mud.
He steps inside the door hole,
His garment is clean and blue
As the Serengeti sky.

© 2018 David A. Welch

Amy Winehouse


Bees hoarse in ferment drowned
a towering hive torn down
dawn found the river of her panther hair
and the sweep of her neck along
it thrown

© 2018 David A. Welch

Amy Winehouse


Christian Nation, Remember the Face of God



In celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, we Christians celebrate a God who is human, vulnerable, and poor, who “hears the cry of the poor”, not from afar, but face-to-face, who assumes the wretched condition of the poor, the better to take up their cause in compassion (co-suffering) and solidarity.

By contrast, our self-proclaimed “Christian Nation” obstructs the ethical gaze of the Divine with a muscle-flexing theo-politics of corporate power and cultural hegemony, in which a sturdy, self-made Son of Man is enthroned in the CEO suite beyond the clouds, distant and unapproachable, detached from the human condition, abandoning the vulnerable to their own devices, leaving the poor without a prayer.

The Christian Right wants to see “the law of Christ” codified in secular legislation, yet there is absolutely nothing in the gospel of Jesus Christ to support the sort of laws the Christian Right believes will “Make America Great Again”. There is nothing — literally nothing — in the preaching of Christ to justify laws that fill the rich with good things and send the poor empty away. Such legislation is a diabolical reversal of biblical prophecy, and Jesus clearly condemns the hypocritical attitudes and unjust social order that produce it. Similarly, laws that oppress the refugee and set traps for the undocumented immigrant are foreign to the mind of Christ, who sees his own weary face in the haunted eyes of the wandering stranger.

The Christian Right does promote the cause of the unborn child, which is the epitome of vulnerable humanity, yet the harrowed face of the pregnant woman is too often brow-beaten by arch pro-life rhetoric and utterly ignored (along with the child) by the callous economic ideologies of Christians more beholden to Capital than Christ. Thus the face of Christ is doubly buffeted.

Christian nation, remember the face of your God. His face is human, vulnerable, and poor. Be reformed in your politics accordingly.