I’m Thinking of a 4-Letter Word that Rhymes with Fall…

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This poem New Colossus was written by Emma Lazarus for a fundraiser to complete the construction of the  Statue of Liberty on Bedloe Island in New York Harbor in 1886. The people of France gave the copper sculpture to Americans to celebrate the emancipation of slaves and the survival of the democracy in the United States following the Civil War that ended in 1865. It had been shipped in 350 pieces, however, and was no small task to assemble – not to mention the additional $120,000 of expenses that would be necessary for the project.

Emma Lazarus initially declined to participate in the Libertas construction fundraising efforts because she was very much involved in the movement to relocate Jews fleeing anti-Semitic persecution in eastern Europe and relocating them in the United States. Luckily, she reconsidered and found a way to express her own activist feelings in a poem with powerful words that have  become almost as famous as the iconic statue itself in welcoming the brave people who cross oceans and continents to find a home in the land of the free. The last lines of New Colossus are on a plaque in the museum at the base of the monument.

Last night in Phoenix, Arizona – a city that is 2,400 miles from New York Harbor –  a brazen giant of the very small screen rewrote New Colossus as he talked once more about building a Great Wall along the US/Mexican border to keep the huddled masses yearning to breathe free south of the border down Mexico way where they belong.  Don’t send your tired…and certainly not your poor…northward. We don’t want them. As a matter of fact, we are deporting 12 million Latinos who live in this country through a hole in the Great Wall back to you. See how you like them apples,  my new BFF President Nieto.

And don’t think we want any wretched refuse from your teeming shores in eastern Europe or the Mid East, either.  A hundred thirty years ago in 1886 the problem  we were worried about bringing over to America was the Jewish refugees – now it’s the Muslims. Sometimes it’s hard to keep straight exactly who we want and who we don’t want. But I’m pretty sure now it’s Muslims and Mexicans in the don’t want category. Hm…something about the M words…gosh, next it might be the Morrises that we need to deport. They’ve always been a suspect family group.

Innnnyhowww, as my friend Libby Levinson used to say to me, I’m thinking of a four-letter word that rhymes with Fall and it turns out to be Wall, a wall that has become a talking point in the 2016 presidential campaign in these United States by he who shall remain nameless. A wall meant to separate, to divide, to exclude – a wall that has captured the imagination of millions of potential voters in November.

When T and I drove to Sioux Falls, South Dakota in March to watch our Lady Gamecocks play basketball, we took a small detour through downtown Sioux Falls on a sleepy Sunday morning after an early spring snowfall. We were looking for the park where the actual Sioux Falls were located. I never will forget the three people, two men and one woman, who were standing on a corner of the main street in town holding a homemade sign which read: Build The Wall.

If people in the Midwest were worried about the border between my home state of Texas and neighboring Mexico, the light from the lamp of the lady in the harbor in New York City was surely gradually dimming and in danger of going out. But of course the Mother of Exiles will overcome the doubters and naysayers and continue to glow her world-wide welcome to those who need her and the Great Wall will remain where it belongs – in China.

At least, that’s what I’m counting on.




About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
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12 Responses to I’m Thinking of a 4-Letter Word that Rhymes with Fall…

  1. Pingback: I’m Thinking of a 4-Letter Word that Rhymes with Fall… – Red's Rants and Raves

  2. Bob Slatten says:

    I grow more and more annoyed that [t]Rump’s rhetoric is aimed ONLY at those brown-skinned immigrants.

    Surely, we have loads of white immigrants in this country who need to be sent packing, too, or is it just those that don’t look like “us.” [/sarcasm font]

    If we cannot figure out who the “enemy” is, maybe it’s us.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Don says:

    A good and clever post, Sheila. Sometimes I wish some people would just build their walls around themselves and do everybody else a favour. I find it deeply disturbing that someone like T can be so popular.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks very much, Don…brilliant idea – let T build a wall around himself…now why didn’t I think of that?
      Yes, I also find it equally disturbing to find so many Americans taking him seriously…so much anger.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wayside Artist says:

    This is who we are – a nation of immigrants each adding a unique spice to the melting pot. I will never understand the need some people have to put a lid on that pot, but it’s been so since colonial times. The Wallers always lose. Eventually they’ll lose again. I just hope we don’t elect this ugly soul, allowing him to spread poison for even a short time.

    Well said, Sheila!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Ann, the Wallers always lose because we are a nation of immigrants! We know this to be true, and we hope other voters will feel the same on November 8th. There is hope for you in Pennsylvania but I fear SC will stay red. We are a blue dot in a red state.
      I borrowed that from our bumper sticker! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wayside Artist says:

    Oh I love that! A blue dot in a red state. You’d be surprised how quickly those blue dots accumulate. It’s happened in Pennsylvania. I once heard the Commonwealth described as the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama sandwiched between them. 😀


  6. Reblogged this on I'll Call It Like I See It and commented:

    Two years later talk of The Wall continues to divide us…unbelievable.


  7. Susanne says:

    I continue to follow US news closely wondering when the winds will change and goodness and common sense will prevail. It heartens me to read your post and others, too, and know that there are still people who remember their roots and how the country came to be. May you prevail soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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