“A Price That You Have To Pay (An Immigrant’s Plight)” by Steve Baratta

May 8, 2014

She’s like a disrobed figure
Exposed to the elements

While working for worthless wages
In a land where prostitution

Takes on a new meaning
Walls and barriers

Walls and barriers
Walls and barriers

All you’ve ever known
Borders with barbed-wired-fences

But if you have learned one thing
It is simply this

That the impulse
Toward survival

Is a greater force
Than any walls and barriers

And that pains of hunger
Are sharper than a knife

And it can cut deeper
Than any barbed -wire-fence

It’s just something
That you learn from experience


What moves you on with such urgency
Through the rivers, the mountains

And in the hot desert sun
To get to the other side of the border

When there is so much at risk
Including your own life

Mansions of glory?
Or just a better life?

But life is concrete
As it consists of those things

That you can see
Feel and touch

Or those things
That you can’t see

Feel and touch;
Your freedom

That is so near
Yet so far in the distance

But aren’t we all immigrants
Seeking to penetrate the borders

Of consciousness
And understanding

Thus a better way
Of life

But aren’t some things
Easier said than done

There’s a cost
To your freedom

A price
That you have to pay


Steve Baratta (May 19, 1953 – June 15, 2014)  was a poet, activist, spoken word artist and radio personality living on the streets of Los Angeles. His performances and presence have been notorious in the heartland of the L.A. poetry scene from the Moondog Café to The Last Bookstore, appearing at political protests and events for social justice year after year, becoming a fixture in the fight for equality and civil rights. In the summer of 2014 Steve Baratta passed away from heart complications, but the passion of his soul lives on in his work, written on the pages of posters, fliers & notebooks he carried with him in a suitcase through the streets of L.A.



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