by Lisa Eve Cheby

surviving injustice and violence is not a crime

watching your family, neighbor, best friend die is not a crime

leaving behind your business, your home in fear is not a crime

forcing a mother to watch her son be condemned

for crimes he did not commit should be a crime

having a child in a country not your own is not a crime

being raped as a teenager in a village that speaks a language that is almost extinct is not a crime

being raped is not a crime                                                      

rape and murder are crimes

being forced to build and carry your own cross for a crime does make you a criminal

no matter where you live

    wanting to find a place to live without fear

           wanting to find a place to heal                        is not a crime

                   wanting to be with your husband or brother or daughter     is not a crime

when you hear this, do you step up to lift the weight, to ease their burden?

fleeing danger is not a crime                                                    

seeking asylum is not a crime

incarcerating victims of violence and rape and terror,

           incarcerating people because of their skin color,

                       the languages they speak,

                                   the god they worship                                             should be a crime

will you, like Pilate wash your hands, claim it was the will of the masses, not your sin?

incarcerating people who have not committed a crime

           incarcerating people because they are poor and vulnerable,

                       denying their humanity, ignoring their compassion

                                    even in their own insufferable pain, ignoring

                                                 the gifts they offer      these are crimes against humanity

will you be like the guards who lifted the son

on his third fall only to escort him to his crucifixion?

                                                                                        asking for Mercy is not a crime

what sacrifice                                      what loss                                 what heartsickness

Author's note: This poem is in response to the order from Attorney General Barr  to not allow for asylum seekers, even those who pass the credible fear test, to request a bond hearing. This will perpetuate the mass incarceration through for-profit prison systems of people seeking to legally immigrate. For more information and to find ways to help, visit and

Lisa Eve Cheby

Lisa Eve Cheby's writing appears in various journals and anthologies such The Rumpus, Ghost Town, Ruminate, Tidal Basin Review, A cappella Zoo, Drawn to Marvel, and Coiled Serpent. She was nominated for a 2015 Pushcart and was a 2017 SAFTA Writer in Residence. Her chapbook, Love Lessons from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (DancingGirlPress, 2015) was featured in The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed Series. Lisa holds an MFA from Antioch and an MLIS from SJSU. "Good Friday" was first published in Lady/Liberty/Lit.

Follow Lisa on Facebook @LisaChebyWriter or on Twitter @LisaCheby