In the far away, newer, and still shifting western frontiers, there once was a watchman uniformed in olive green who looked over a border, an imaginary one some argued, since a natural delineation this border was not, but instead had been drawn by humans through migration, invasion, occupation, relocation, warfare, purchases, and treaties; now this line manifested itself as a rusty and porous chain-link fence adorned on top with tetanus inducing garland. This watchman, in a grand and big-wheeled gasoline-fueled and color-coordinated-to-his-uniform motor vehicle, would give chase at daring speeds to reach and capture people who, according to this artificial line, were not supposed to be on his side of it. Parallel to it, a massive and glorified irrigation canal that brought verdant promises to a once arid desert served as a secondary boundary this watchman conveniently patrolled from, since the people he would follow with night vision binoculars had grown immune to barbed wire but not to the dangers of deep running water. These people didn’t know it, but they were invisibly watched by another whom they feared as equally as the watchman, a ghostly woman in a dress known to appear waterside at night crying for her drowned children. One night lit with a full moon, while the torrid waters of this wide canal sparkled like stars, the watchman gave chase to a car he believed was loaded with the unwanted; chasing over a bridge across this immense canal, this ghostly woman and secret guardian of the others, made an appearance on the passenger’s seat of this watchman’s speeding grand motor vehicle; elegantly dressed in a white spectral dress, she appeared seated not uttering a word, not looking at him either, just sitting there perfectly postured looking straight ahead, not acknowledging his existence by gesture or word, but simply by being there. The scare made the watchman swerve out of control and roll over, and down the grand green and white Ford Bronco went into the All-American Canal; the words BORDER PATROL emblazoned across it slowly faded as it sank. He died trapped, drowning under the waters of this massive canal that humans use to provide and divide so much, but not before believing, if even for one instant, in the ghostly woman dressed in white.


Omar Bárcena

Omar Bárcena, born and raised straddling the line dividing Alta from Baja California in the border city of Mexicali, Baja California, raised between his hometown and Calexico, his childhood and adolescence were divided between two countries and two languages whose border he crossed: often daily. At 18, he left the currently delineated USA/México border to attend university in San Luis Obispo, California, where he obtained an architecture degree. Omar has lived in Mexicali, Calexico, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, Paris, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Borrego Springs, but the border splitting has never left him. His poetry has appeared in the Hawai’i Review issue 89 – La Trayectoria del Latinx, by the University of Hawai’i in Manoa and in The Very Edge Poems, by Flying Ketchup Press, of which he became a Pushcart Prize nominee in 2020, and his first collection of poetry, Poemas desde el otro lado, which deals `with being on the opposite side of things, was published in 2021 by Valparaíso Ediciones of Granada, Spain. He has since obtained a certificate in Creative Writing from UCLA Extension, become a finalist for the 2024 Harbor Review Chapbook Editor’s Prize, and is pursuing a bilingual MFA in creative writing from Mount Saint Mary’s University of Los Angeles.


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