Good Friday

April 26, 2019

surviving injustice and violence is not a crime 
watching your family, neighbor, best friend die is not a crime
leaving behind your business, your home in fear is not a crime


                                     forcing a mother to watch her son be condemned 
                                      for crimes he did not commit should be a crime


having a child in a country not your own is not a crime
being raped as a teenager in a village that speaks a language that is almost extinct is not a crime
being raped is not a crime  


rape and murder are crimes


             being forced to build and carry your own cross for a crime does make you a criminal


no matter where you live
            wanting to find a place to live without fear
                         wanting to find a place to heal         is not a crime 
                                     wanting to be with your husband or brother or daughter    is not a crime


                    when you hear this, do you step up to lift the weight, to ease their burden?


fleeing danger is not a crime                    
seeking asylum is not a crime


incarcerating victims of violence and rape and terror, 
         incarcerating people because of their skin color, 
                   the languages they speak, 
                              the god they worship                         should be a crime


will you, like Pilate wash your hands, claim it was the will of the masses, not your sin?
incarcerating people who have not committed a crime 
           incarcerating people because they are poor and vulnerable, 
                     denying their humanity, ignoring their compassion
                                even in their own insufferable pain, ignoring 
                                                       the gifts they offer      these are crimes against humanity 


                                will you be like the guards who lifted the son 
                        on his third fall only to escort him to his crucifixion? 
                                                                                       asking for Mercy is not a crime


what sacrifice                         what loss                                what heartsickness 

Author's note: This poem is in response to the order from Attorney General Barr last week to not allow for asylum seekers, even those who pass the credible fear test, to request a bond hearing. This will perpetuate the mass incarceration through for-profit prison systems of people seeking to legally immigrate. For more information and to find ways to help, visit and


Lisa Eve Cheby's writing appears in various journals and anthologies such The Rumpus, Ghost Town, Ruminate, Tidal Basin Review, A cappella Zoo, Drawn to Marvel, and Coiled Serpent. She was nominated for a 2015 Pushcart and was a 2017 SAFTA Writer in Residence. Her chapbook, Love Lessons from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (DancingGirlPress, 2015) was featured in The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed Series. Lisa holds an MFA from Antioch and an MLIS from SJSU.

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