Shame, Documented

Leslie Contreras Schwartz

after ire’ne lara silva

thirsty and hungry for days shame*  /  no shower shame  /  dog pound in chain-linked cell with 

thirty other children shame      /   drink from toilet because water tastes like bleach and chlorine

shame           /   you don’t get clean clothes shame     /   we don’t wear tight clothes like in your country 

and so you get big pants shame      /                          boy or girl and nothing else so you can leave 


shame          shower in public while menstruating shame               cannot hug my sister or 

cousin or friend while they scream in fear shame      get to leave cell but Pablo alone now shame

on birth control to avoid getting pregnant from rape at twelve while crossing the border


shame         outdoor time in blinding sun and heat with no cover shame          when do I see 

my mother? and agent silence shame lights always on lights never off    missed dreams shame

kicked awake shame           missed two meals because sleeping from exhaustion shame


ran from rape and threats of torture to this place shame                 shackled from place to place 

shame         try to run free shame                 injected for outbursts in front of other students shame

the ones that become extremely quiet shame                 I want to die to escape this shame 

shame    given rotten meat covered in black ice to eat shame       aluminum foil and icebox cold shame

coughing and hacking and nauseous shame                      children crying all at once can’t hear 


needs a conductor says agent shame     hands over ears and can’t sleep and stomach growling 

shame     no medicine for fever shame     diarrhea on toilet next to friend’s head shame

naked and inspected shame            dirty on dirty floor with no water or soap or toothpaste 

shame      dirty animal shame                      Mexicans don’t need facilities shame          they shit on 

floor shame**                  I am not used to not showering and I did not sleep shame          this is 

not normal shame


when do we get to the United States says two-year-old in detention shame

they did this to themselves social media post shame               you and your children will die shame 

these notes, documents of shame            for future generations to view when they ask 

How did they enter this era? What door did they open?

How can we prevent this human life shame       shame multiplying shame       and bearing children

shame—                    from happening again?



*with quotes from immigrant children and parents who were detained in the United States from the court document Jenny Lisette Flores et al. Plaintiffs vs. Jefferson Sessions, Attorney General of the United States

**quote from a former supervisor when I worked as a Texas journalist