border crosser

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my father’s story is not singular. he is a border crosser, he crossed the border,
the border crossed him.

filled with hope that looked like a stormy night. waiting in hotels for the right
time to take that dangerous ride.

from Tijuana to California in a trunk of a car, a journey so rocky off balance and dark.

looking for a better tomorrow where currency is worth as such. risking to make a run for it, in a smuggler’s gulch.

how can a white line on maps carry so much sorrow? a condition created by corrupt governments, it leaves you hollow.

Families ripped apart for the promise of freedom, is it a trick from the gringos? because it sounds like a gimmick.

under profit and dominance is where we all lie, we can’t escape the capitalist hydra because it now flies.

what is there to do when you are trying to survive? it’s not a secret anymore, let’s expose its lies.

Statement for piece: 

I was always curious about the journey my father took crossing the US-Mexico border. I was afraid to ask and didn’t have the strength to listen because I knew in the end we would both be heartbroken. One day I mustered up the courage to ask. He recounted his journeys coming back and forth, hiding in hotels from la migra. As he was telling me the story he was whispering as to keep others from listening. This poem honors the journey of my father and millions of other migrants crossing borders to survive. Leaving their home lands not because they want to but due to man-made conditions that create scarcity and violence. 


Born in Mexico, at the age of 4, Catalina Rios immigrated with her family to Detroit, Michigan. Through poetry she found her voice advocating for immigrant rights since 2009. Catalina was selected to be featured in the Emerging Poets 2018/2019 Series for Z Publishing House. Her poems have been published in Anhelo Anhelo and Love and other Futures Anthology. She also co-found Untold Stories of Liberation and Love, a poetry collective, to amplify local women of color’ creative courage. She is the host of Detroit Hustle Podcast highlighting stories of hustle in her city. She loves visiting the Detroit river and taking walks in Belle Isle, especially during sunset.