Who Speaks for Them? A New Poetry Book by Marie Louise Meyers

My NoteMarie-Louise Meyers (Mary-Lou) is my classmate from Douglass College (Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ). I reviewed her first book, Whisperings Along the Octoraro, and have been posting her poems because I love the way she writes. This book, however, is more than poetry book; it is a consciousness-raising book in which all the proceeds go directly to ACE (Advocating, Collaborating, Educating) Anti-Human Trafficking Alliance of Oxford, PA for the purpose of informing the public, as well as benefiting the victims and survivors of Human Trafficking and those vulnerable to this Modern-Day Slavery. (Info taken from the title page.) My thanks to Mary Lou for this volunteer effort.

 

Cover by Dawn J. Stuckey with added rose by Ruth Ann Kepler.
More sketches by Stuckey throughout the book, as well as on back cover.

 

Who Speaks for Them? is a consciousness-raising book that hits the reader between the eyes and opens them wide, exposing us to the trials and tribulations of mostly young women and children caught in the human trafficking vice here and abroad. While many of us may think that human trafficking happens only in other countries, this book dispels that myth and makes us more aware of the global threat of this hard-to-ignore issue, once you read the poems.

Here are the titles of the chapters that will help clarify the issues:

Chapter I-Outrage Committed on the Young
Chapter II- Raging War
Chapter III- Domestic Violence
Chapter IV- Home
Chapter V- Abroad
Chapter Vi- The Victim
Chapter VII- Bearing Witness

In the Introduction by Mary-Lou, she poses that poetry is an excellent way to convey the truth about Human Trafficking. “Poetry is highly charged, more succinct, more concentrated and more memorable and dramatic.” The Introduction ends with a plea: “May the poignant words in this book serve as a beacon of glowing meaning, rising from the page to new heights of Insight to those beleaguered and oppressed. Let us help to eradicate their servile status and promise them a New Beginning.”

Many of the poems are difficult to read, because they tell the naked truth of how mostly young people are denied their rights as human beings, being forced into sexual slavery and abandoned when they are no longer useful. The book also deals with immigrants and their plight for freedom.

I asked Mary-Lou to choose poems that she especially felt conveyed her purpose, and they are posted below. Then I chose two I liked, one about immigration and the other about modern-day slavery.

The book costs $15 plus $3.00 postage, First Class USPS, and all proceeds go directly to helping people caught in the web of Human Trafficking and related issues.
Send your check for the book/donation to:

ACE Anti-Human Trafficking Alliance of Oxford

P O Box 103

Oxford, PA 19363

 

Here are samples  poems, including the one with
the same title as the book:

 

Who Speaks for Them?

Who speaks for them,

puppets on a string?

Who bears repeating,

whether they walk the streets or clean debris,

paint nails, or clear dishes

at your favorite restaurant?

Such half-filled human masks

that require inhuman tasks!

To contain the whole of Death

when life is promised without regrets.

 

Not a sound is uttered,

just the busy hum of occupation,

enforced labor without a choice,

without a voice in it.

They are brought here,

all colors of the rainbow,

and serve like slaves everyday,

or here today and gone tomorrow

hustled in a van bound for Philly,

without a stake in it, without protest,

in denial for the food that sustains life;

it would be over for them otherwise.

We do as much for contraband!

in this land of satisfying demands!

 

They start each day in silence

for their plight requires containment,

and ends the same way.

Out of sight if necessary,

a prison without bars

so as not to violate their “Kept” status.

There are all kinds of ways: keeping their visa,

forcing them to stay for fear of deportation;

starvation or threatening family members.

They own nothing, micromanaged from the start,

only the rights of the person in charge

of their confinement matters at all,

like puppets on a string malingering!

 

They are bereft of status and protocol,

their subsequent confinement doesn’t matter at all,

only the rights of the one in charge.

Their take on it is subservience

without a choice, without an invoice,

blocking out the rest for the necessaries of life,

it would be all over for them otherwise.

 

Who Speaks for Them in Anthems sweet

and Gospels that bear repeating,

memorized by heart;

who renders a prescriptive authenticity

too deep for them?

But who keeps the Promise of America alive

without meeting their needs for survival,

entreating them at last to speak for themselves

as no one else with such insight can.

To sing their own song in the end!

 

Unsuspecting children may be lured into a trap by someone who appears to be kind, but behind the disguise, he is a predator, taking advantage of their innocence often leading them into a life of drugs and prostitution.

 

“The Candy Man”

 

He’s kind and he’s cool,

but he breaks all the rules,

I learned at home and in school.

Sometimes he gives Hershey Kisses,

sometimes he gives us his own kisses,

but I make sure he misses my lips.

 

“Sit down bro’ or sis’ a spell,

I have a story to tell!”

He told us about slavery,

and how all blacks had to obey.

 

“Let’s pretend you’re a slave,

and must obey everything I say.”

“Is it like the game, Simon Says?”

“Yes, make sure you obey!

Dance to the tune I play,

make your hips swing and sway!

Move your hands up and down,

then around and around,

and land right here!”

Shows me where a bump appears.

“Now pretend you’re petting a puppy,

it’s just a game, so don’t act so uppity!”

 

But Mama told me whenever

someone tries to act too clever,

or looks at you the wrong way,

“Run, run, run away!”

 

“You’ll miss me,” he yells,

“just don’t tell!”

 

When I got older,

and a little too bold,

Mama pointed out,

the man grown stout,

skinny girls still hanging ‘bout,

with filth and needles in the alley.

One I knew named Sally,

punctured arms swaying

no longer playing, lips praying

a car will whisk her away!

 

A serious problem which faces our Country today is when Immigrants, who flee their own Homeland, bring their children to their adopted Country.  How can we be assured that those children will have a direct passageway to Citizenship?  With combined efforts, we can make it happen for them!

 

Where is My Home?

 

Children, first generation nearly born here,

but no way to citizenship clear,

mirroring the dreams of their parents,

escaping from the Old World to the New.

Faith lodged in their divided hearts,

their eyes trained on doors opening, not closing,

tasting Freedom’s Air from afar,

wandering the streets, still wondering,

belonging neither here nor there.

Their passageway is not clear,

not belonging anywhere, despairing,

willing to do most anything

to be wearing the trappings of the New Country,

prime targets for Human Trafficking

where it doesn’t matter,

enforced slavery needs no Green Card for depraving.

Unable to become a citizen,

caught between a dream and the reality,

nearly born here, but relegated to a foreign status

when every facet of their Being

longs for the transformation

to be a true American.

Alarmed because others may do them harm,

prime targets for exploitation,

Insiders jealous they may catch on to Freedom’s Voice,

and the rights and privileges of being an American.

 

This is a poem which at a gut level describes “Modern Day Slavery.” Ideally we think it can’t exist but discover it does in many features and forms.  The tattoos of the prostitute are akin to branding.  We may not like to think in those terms, but we’re not facing reality.  

 

 

But Wait——–

 

There are no auction blocks,

but wait—–!

The brown skinned truly satiates,

but wait—–!

There is no reason to infiltrate,

but wait——!

There are no waifs on the streets,

but wait——!

Don’t be a Kidder,

they go to the highest Bidder,

but wait—–!

All have an equal chance to be branded,

but wait—–!

She/He’s only twelve,

but wait—–!

Let’s negotiate,

but wait—–!

It’s Her/His Fate,

no reason to wait!

 

NOTE:  Again, the book costs $15 plus $3.00 postage, First Class USPS, and all proceeds go directly to helping people caught in the web of Human Trafficking and related issues. Send your check to:

ACE Anti-Human Trafficking Alliance of Oxford

P O Box 103

Oxford, PA 19363

 

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