Call it what it is.

Let’s not mince words about it.

The day my foot first touched

The American soil

I was marked – unwanted.

The epitome of a reviled species

Was I.


And so lived I…


More mimed through happenings

Of a piecemeal life

One upheld flat palm

Then another

March upward, one to the left,

The other to the right

Trapped with a pantomime grin

Behind an invisible brick wall


A series of walls were erected.

The law said, “Impermissible” – Wall # 1

The paranoid mother said, “Be careful!” – Wall # 2

The walls of silence self-erected – Walls # 3 – to – Infinity

Though already innately shy, add

The layer of shame for secrets

I dear not speak.

Could anyone catch a glimpse of me?

Not from the words of my mouth.


The school was the way.

I’d heard people say.

And so study & work & took aim

For the sky

Only to find at the end of 12th grade

Was the end of my journey.

How could it be?

How could congress in all of those

Eleven years of waiting still manage

To fail me



This is NOT THE END.

Why sell me a dream

Of prosperity, of overcoming obstacles;

The American dream

Why sell it to me?

When you knew at the end

Was another slammed door

Just another invisible brick wall…


I watched, no jealousy employed – just a feeling

(jilted, slighted, cursed, pitiable),

As my American friends planned futures

Limitless skies above them

They were already driving cars.

A rite of passage they’d all accomplished at 16.

Whilst I said, with a shrug of shoulders,

“I don’t drive,” in explanation for my lack.

It was simple.

It wasn’t a lie.  I didn’t explain why I don’t.

And that’s where the ever restless minds

Of people would almost always fill in the blank.


Postulations of ‘maybe she’s afraid to,’

‘Maybe her family can’t afford a car,’ and so on.

Though the answer was simple enough;

But people couldn’t seem to form the right question.

If ever posed, I believe I’d answer straight.

‘I lacked the documents needed

To garner a license’

No proof of myself that New York State

Would accept

Therefore another layer invalidating me nonetheless


College was the thing.

I’ll keep alive

Those school dreams

And so in my 17 year old mind

I checked the box on those applications

That warranted the least amount of questions.

Damned be the consequences. Prudency shamed.

For what teenager plans for the future

When he will live forever in

A teenaged haze


High school was so different.

I could hide in plain sight there.

And act my way & make semblance to a life

Not like college, where every professors roll call

Included a list of students’ names and social security numbers

A SS# I used for years, I later found

It wasn’t mine.

Like those notifications from the

Social Security department weren’t enough,

When they read,

‘SS # and name mismatch’

I was assured by my mother it was mine.

Her reason being that they’d paid good money for it.


It was freshman year of college where

I first learned what anxiety was.

Anxiety being the pulling apart of a thing.

The strands of myself were unraveling.

I developed a nervous demeanor.

& jumped every time my name was called

Fear of being found out.

Fear of the truth I hid so well now,

Under half-truths & omissions

It wasn’t a lie; not really, only half of a thing.


I once remember a professor commenting

On the difference in my social security #

Compared to everyone else’s

“You’re from the Caribbean, right?”

“Yes,” I said, skittish, already preparing to bolt.

“I’m from Jamaica.”

“Hmm,” he pondered.

And I knew he knew.

But he let it go.  So I did.


Can I say the thing, no one at 18 years of age says?

I’m married, by the way, did I mention?

Oh, just an added layer to my onion of deception.

Not to some random US citizen.

Although my family did have one commissioned

And attempted to brow beat me.

Back against the invisible wall of law and


A guy in Florida had agreed to do the

Service for a handsome fee and

A few years of his life

But I guess I was a dreamer

I didn’t constantly see my limitations

As they were

And dreamed of better for me


My boyfriend of a year was sure & strong.

For he said he had plans to marry me

One day anyway

And so a favor was done for me.

Atop my freely given love and his;

But he chose to keep our secret marriage hidden

Even after the birth of our son and then daughter.

So once equals, now me lovingly disadvantaged.

Walls closing in…


We met with a lawyer soon after our union.

And started a process of paperwork

That took 10 more years

And required meeting with 4 or 5

Different lawyers before finding the right one,

The only one that left me with hope

She said, “Maybe there was a possibility

To work with the law as is.

Waiting for Congress to pass the DREAM Act

Any longer was foolish.”


Was there a loose brick

That would allow me to finally

Break free?


In the mean time I did things

Others living limitlessly did

I partook in the daily routine.

I drove, though carefully…illegally.

I’d even managed to start a career

By the same means I’d used to get into college.

This was all I had, you see.

The copy of a social security card,

Which was the only representation of me


For months after starting my job

In the business world

I jumped, moved quickly down hallways,

And averted eye contact

The microscopic lens was highly focused here,

Documents signed and bound by legal jargon.

What was I thinking?

The double-headed coin of the twists of fate,

One side, wanting to live my dream, as if I could;

The other side, reality & legality in being

Accountable as an adult

What was I doing?

Living…the best way I could

Whilst the law & Congress took vacations

Instead of addressing the issue

Of millions of lives held in limbo.

6 months in and I still jumped

When someone called my name,

Fear, Anxiety, Dread, Misgivings, Forebodings

Who was I?

No one knew.


My father died in August 2011.

In a country I have not returned to

In 20 plus years

And I was kept


Although, all the time, wanting to be


In his last days,

To ever have him see me

As an adult

Fate wasn’t so kind.

I mourned on my couch, in my apartment,

In America

Whilst my dad was buried in Jamaica,

Even further from me, than just a plane ride

And the change of laws that would permit it.

Now Dad,

You are worlds away & I love you.

Until the afterlife, I bid you adieu.


The very next year I gained

Permanent Residency.

A lifetime of no documents & illegality

Turned momentously & quickly into

A plethora of forms of ID

I passed my road test at the age of 27.


All it took was twenty-two years in America,

Mine & my family’s blood, sweat, and tears.

The numerous sacrifices of those I loved.

The disparagement of any and all sense of pride,

The passing of my patriarch,

Prayer, and praise, and the mighty hand of God;

To finally move beyond the limits of the laws in place;


Immediately, all at once, and in random succession,

I set about righting my life.

My life.

Literally, it was actually me.

On paper, just as you would see in person.

Righting my life,

Meant to put things right.

Which forced me to recreate and practically

Rewrite my story from this point on.


I corrected my personal information

In my career

Which led to almost being fired

But by the grace of God

The position was secured for me.

There are still people in this world

Who value doing the right thing.

And are able to show mercy,

For them I am grateful.


Now I am urged in spirit

To not stop there;

But go back to all former employers

And set it right

Even to my university,

Where I graduated with Honors,

I must set the record straight.

Whatever the consequence,

For in my heart of hearts,

I know that I would have done it right

From the start

Had fate afforded me legitimacy.


And so I go on to live as I would

Representing America & God

With honesty of

Character, strength, endurance, & loyalty,


No longer desperate,

But still I cannot move forward

Without repenting & making recompense

For the times when

Desperation, Anxiety, & limits

Were all I could see,

For even a mime can be silently frantic

When faced with desperation and anxiety.


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