David Weinstock
Two Passports


The Secretary of State
it was Alexander Haig
hereby requests all whom it may concern
to permit the citizen named herein

this young man, dark face shining
from black curls, with deep Osama eyes
to pass without delay or hindrance
from Boston to Australia, to visit his father;
I think you will like him: look
for a blue Oxford shirt, a foulard silk tie,
its knot at a slight declination
from true vertical; other creative touches
distinguish him: the left wing of an eagle
spreads slowly across his broken nose;
on his beard, arrowheads clustered
like Shiraz grapes bunch black in the starlight,
longing to be wine; he will arrive in a drizzle;
Australians will apologize for the weather.


The Secretary of State
that would be Colin Powell
hereby requests, and prie, and solicita,
that this same man,
though no longer young or dark,
receive the same consideration;
he has no tie, and no father,
and no current plans to fly;
he carries this to assure you
and himself that he is a citizen still,
and what’s more a citoyen,
and even a ciudadano, suggesting
a café dandy who wastes his life in Madrid;
On his lower lip like a cigarette
rests the nocked butt of an arrow.
Still he is one of us; for my sake
let him pass.

*Author’s note: After the September 11 terrorist attacks, I heard that airlines would be requesting additional forms of photo ID, so I decided to renew my passport. The contrast between my two photographic selves, at 29 and 49, struck me so strongly that I started carrying both documents around in my wallet, here around town, as talismans. I really do feel safer, magically, toting a current passport. I don't relish the prospect that some day Americans (like everyone else) will need to have national identification papers, but I much prefer to have my citizenship attested by the State Department than by so lowly an agency as the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles.

About my "Osama eyes"--I've been fascinated by the pictures of the handsome terrorist Bin-Laden, with his soulful face--but really it's not an uncommon look. All of us non-white white guys have eyes like that. - David Weinstock 10/4/2001