March 21, 2019 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Daniel Arauz photo



Martha E. Snell




They Don’t Count



“It is important to recognize that we’re talking about human beings. Every person needs to be accounted for.” June 26, 2018, Order Granting Class Certification.

“And the reality is that for every parent who is not located, there will be a permanent orphaned child, and that is 100% the responsibility of the administration.”  August 3, 2018, CNN.

Dana M. Sabraw, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.



Separation is vital when making meringue,

don’t want the yolks to mix with the whites.

Separation is wise when planting flowers,

the tall in back so they don’t shade the small.

Separation is required when sorting coins

into pennies, nickels, quarters and dimes.


What about children separated from families,

two thousand seven hundred or more?

Boys and girls, babies and toddlers alive

and well, living someplace in shelters?

Permanently orphaned.

But most are with sponsors!

Permanently orphaned.

Find them, said the Judge.


What of children taken from parents before

the court ruled? There are thousands,

said the ACLU. Shouldn’t they be found,

put back with their parents?

Federal justices threw up their hands:

A much larger group, some other galaxy of a task…

Can’t move the goal posts at this late date!

[Translation: We don’t know where they are.]


Last week, South Texas, at the detention

center of Immigration and Customs

Enforcement, a young woman, who’d fled

from home in Honduras, delivered

a baby boy, premature, unresponsive,

an infant born still, separated by death.

From ICE and Border Patrol: We don’t count

stillbirths as in-custody deaths.






Martha E. Snell

My poems have appeared in The Poet’s BillowStreetlight Magazine, and elsewhere. I was selected as a finalist in the 2015 Bermuda Triangle Prize (The Poet’s Billow) and received the Mary Jean Irion Prize from Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends in Chautauqua, New York in August 2015.  For the past three years, a poem of mine has been displayed in the April poetry celebration, POEMCITY, in Montpelier Vermont. One of my poems was chosen as a finalist in the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library Poetry Contest in Charlottesville, VA.

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