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CSULA Department of English | Statement 2004

Twenty-Dollar Parking at the Naturalization Ceremony

by Bernie H. Carrasco

My parents memorized the names of all
The Presidents, recited every word
Within the Bill of Rights in broken English,
And learned the meaning of the Stars and Stripes
Without complaining when they had to pay
A tax each time they brought home bags of rice,
Beans, y tortillas from the liquor store.

Employment permits earned, the ritual
Of paying income tax had not deterred
Them from accomplishing their only selfish
Dream, to be citizens. They held no gripes,
But finally, when the long-awaited day
Arrived, they swore allegiance, took their slice,
And balked at parking rates, declaring war.