From country to country
A criminal can run –
As immigrant or refugee –
But in the End –
Justice will be done –
One can’t immigrate to Heaven –
Nor seek refuge from Hell!
Copyright by Minh Tan on listed dated of completion
and published in Perspectives, ISBN 0-9686250-0-2.
Notes to this poem…
This feels like an agnostic immigrant’s twist on that popular excuse of hope about how things will be justified in the “next world” or how God will be the ultimate judge of someone for his/her crimes, so often heard when courts fails to render judgment satisfactory to anybody, observer, victim and/or accused. The poem talks about Heaven and Hell as domains in the next world/life like countries are domain in this world, but that immigration and hiding is not possible in the former unlike it is in the latter.
I recall this poem was inspired by an Emily Dickinson poem and it would not surprise me if it were. However, a computer search for “immig” and “emig”, the key principles of the metaphor presented to immigrate or emigrate, among Emily Dickinson’s poems revealed no similar presence in her poetic works. The inspiration did come from somewhere in her works, though perhaps not as direct as I might have recalled.
I limited this poem to apply to “criminals”, and not something like “sinners” because the latter has a lot of connotations on the conservative side of its interpretation with which I do not agree. But in my usage of “criminals”, I do mean everything from the petty thief to the murderer to the war criminals alike, and still leaving the reader to interpret who else might qualify as such.
Finally, I am an agnostic immigrant. Hence, the twist.
The O-series of poems are one stanza poems composed before I got onto writing haiku and tanka, and short poetry while in action or traveling by select means like plane or ferry. These poems are 3-9 lines long with at least one rhyming couplet, and not of the short forms just mentioned. For the sake of elegance, I just called the collection One.