#21 Ħajku / No one is illegal – Antoine Cassar

Illustrazzjoni ta' Daniel Dacio. Traduzzjoni bil-Ġappuniż ta' Yasuhiro Yotsumoto.

Illustrazzjoni ta’ Daniel Dacio. Traduzzjoni bil-Ġappuniż ta’ Yasuhiro Yotsumoto.

L-ajruport. Tifel
ċkejken jaqbeż iċ-checkpoint.
Ma jafx b’fruntieri.

Tfajjel Sirjan
fuq il-kanvas tat-tinda
ipinġi d-djar.

L-ebda bandiera
ma jistħoqqilha qima
daqs l-id li tħitha.

Il-bnedmin jaqsmu
l-fruntieri? Anzi. Il-fruntieri
jaqsmu ‘l-bnedmin.

People cross borders.
It’s been that way ever since
borders crossed people.

Dear people of Mars:
are our borders visible
in your evening sky?

Arti ta' Favianna Rodríguez

Arti ta’ Favianna Rodríguez

No one is illegal


Hands cuffed, body strapped, lips taped
the thrust drives thoughts I know are clear
but cannot hear

through the porthole
bone-white concrete cracks snaking the land
columns of rocket smoke streaking the sky
like reeds in a winter pond

deportation drones®
by propulsion™

swirling past at a distance
the face of the woman I love
with a black and white star
printed on her forehead

as blue fades into black
my flattened face stares back
inside the star the letters ILLEGAL ALIEN

then a sudden lightness,
a sudden silence,
the splitting of my heart the only sound,

then a burst of sunlight
that singes my eyes
till I awake to find the world red,
till I awake to find myself dead.


The sunrays piercing through the window
find me in fetal position.

The woman I love sleeps soundly,
her breath ebbing and flowing
like the waves over the rocks
of my faraway village.

Emigrating out of bed,
the cool floor welcomes my feet
and becalms my heart.

I encounter no border guards
on the way to the kitchen.
I let the coffee journey through my veins
and spurt slowly into my thoughts.
At what time of day
do I become a citizen?

I search for the weather map in the newspaper
to recover my bearings.
Clouds straddle land borders,
raindrops fall either side.
What hue of blue is my spirit,
having lived so long away from the sea?

The headlines speak of “spy leaks”,
“unmanned drones”, “illegal immigrants”.
Is the nightmare that just shook me
stored in your state security database?
Can your drones detect the salt-blue atoms
within my DNA?
At what shade of dawn or dusk
does an immigrant become an expat?
If you were to play the musical notation in my fingerprint,
would it be compatible with the national anthem?
Which subparagraph
of which article
of which implementing regulation
gives me the right
to take a deep breath,
to stretch out and yawn,
and to heave a sigh of relief?


I shut my eyes. There they are,
in the redness,
ink-dripping words floating through the air
like hungry mosquitoes.
With each swat of the newspaper,
the louder their buzz in the ears.

undocumented ausländer non-native klandestin blood-sucking sans-papiers gypsy parasite priseljenec taco-munching wetback anchor baby makak intruder forastero υπάνθρωποι illegal immigrant


No one is legal or illegal!
No paper, no ink, no dirty bureaucratic stamp
can codify the depths of the soul,
the hopes and dreams of the migrant heart!

My family, made up of seven accidental nationalities,
charts its journey through a labyrinth
of forty-nine shifting frontiers
weaving an invisible tapestry
that no customs officer can cut.

Listen. Do you hear the cracking?
The Great Rift Valley continues to widen.
Should we ever return en masse,
there may soon be room for us all.

stateless itinerant étranger non-citizen non-villager makwerekwere asylturist boat person boat non-person neslovenec barrani beachcomber παράνομοι ħarraġa irregular migrant


Hold on a second. Who wants to be ‘regular’ ?
Perfectly symmetrical, perfectly integrated,
perfectly robot, a regular polyhedron,
not a single wild hair, mole, or beauty spot
rising above the skin?
The woman I love, born in Luxembourg to
Argentinian parents of
Turkish-Puglian-Guaraní descent, has a small toe
resting upon the toe next to it,
and I adore the irregularity.

If you believe in the gates of heaven,
pray that you will find them unscrewed from the jambs.

economic refugiado savage barbarians βρωμιάρηδες extra-communautaire benefits-scrounging gasterarbeiter vagabond mojado asylum shopper stranġier južnjak illegal aliens

this collective hallucination!

Aliens? From which exo-planet?
Is it visible with the naked eye?
Are they creatures spawned
by another god, or spurted
on an opposite side of the big bang?
Are we in danger of extinction?
Do they breathe in oxygen
and breathe out carbon dioxide,
or are these monsters messing
with the chemical balance of our air?


The scent of alien chemicals
penetrating our paper-thin atmosphere
has spun my head beyond its axis.

The newspaper thrown for recycling,
I walk through the forest
to feel the cool air caress my skin
and cleanse my ears.
My eyes migrate through the foliage,
my thoughts into
and out of myself.

Birds have flown into my heart
with offerings in return for warmth,
and have taken off again as free as they were when they came.

My beard has welcomed tufts of pollen
and I have overflown with contentment
in carrying such fertility, occasionally
stroking them off, occasionally
blowing them on their way.

The drizzle that softens my head
and trickles down my neck,
I sometimes like to catch on my tongue.
Through these same droplets,
microplankton have risen at night
toward the surface of the sea,
and multicoloured fish have spawned.

The winds are more than four
but move as one.
I thirst for the winds to fill my lungs,
I crave they bring salt to my lips.


Human once more, I deport myself softly
back to bed.
The woman I love sleeps
in fetal position.
Migrating into dreamland,
I see the island of Pangaea rising above the ocean.
People of all colours,
each of them perfectly irregular in shape,
are drafting a planetary constitution.
And I am one of the civil servants,
translating into one of over 6,000 official languages:
Article 1 – No human being is illegal,
and it is illegal
to illegalise
a people.

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