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Reflections on Marcelo Lucero and Jeffrey Conroy

A poem by Nassau County Poet Laureate emeritus, Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr.

Marcelo Lucero—Jeffrey Conroy

I

Screams the Internet broadside:

“’Illegal aliens…$2.2 billion dollars a year:’”

food stamps, free school lunches.

Children in USA “illegally

and they cannot speak a word of English.”

Primary and secondary schools, $12 billion dollars a year.

Crime rate “two and half times that of white non-illegal aliens.”

Fourteen reasons why “USA bankrupt.”

II

Huntington Station, 9:30 a frigid January morning,

buzz saws with zero slicing sounds

destroy 15-year-old tent village in verdant woods,

“”la Montaña,” reminding men of home,

refuge for the night

for Salvadorian, Honduran, Mexican day laborers.

Oyster Bay—

Residents complain day laborers a safety risk,

bad impression for visitors.

Town Board passes ordinance:

$250-dollar fine for behavior

signaling laborer available:

waving arms, making hand signals,

shouting to someone in a vehicle,

jumping up and down, waving signs.

III

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy–

his strategy–crackdowns:

men crowding into illegally subdivided houses,

men looking for day jobs on sidewalks, in parking lots.

Rants about women crossing border,

giving birth in US—“anchor babies.”

Asserts Southern Poverty Law Center,

2009 Suffolk County Report; “Year in Hate”–

“the highest ranking—…acting like the enabler-in-chief.”

IV

“No Human Being is Illegal”

read handmade signs, Gualaceo, Ecuador,

for the procession–

school girls uniformed in blue or red sweaters, plaid skirts,

school boys uniformed in yellow shirts, black pants.

37-year-old Marcelo Lucero’s childhood friends

bear his metal coffin, draped with Ecuadorean flag,

over cobbled streets to City Hall.

Fifteen years in the States, no coming home,

his checks from work at Riverhead cleaner

build spacious home where he was

soon to be returning, living with his mother, sister.

V

“On November 8, 2008, the hunt was on,”

the prosecutor tells jurors in Supreme Court.

The gang of seven, prowling Patchogue,

Mexican-hopping—beaner-hopping,

“looking for blood—specifically, Mexican blood,”

surrounding their prey, Marcelo Lucero.

He pulls off, swings his belt,

hits Jeffrey Conroy in the head.

The 19-year-old thrusts knife into victim’s upper right chest,

rinses blood off weapon in rain puddle.

VI

Newsday jail interview follows conviction,

first degree manslaughter, county’s first death “hate crime.”

Change green jump-suit during trial

for white button-down shirt, black suit jacket–

a high school senior ready for graduation,

perhaps college lacrosse scholarship,

career as gym teacher,

marrying his girl friend of five years—

“I’m still hanging on to these things.”

In Suffolk County, New York, two young men—their lives…Gone

Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr.

First Poet Laureate

Nassau County, New York

2007-09

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