poet. writer. teacher

2020-2021 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

artwork by Stephanie Castillo

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the union

Janice Lobo Sapigao



my mother’s boss 

was fired today

after nineteen years 

with the company,

they cited failure 

to meet deadlines

and production goals


…and ma doesn’t know

what they’re talking about

because they’ve worked over time and they’ve scheduled 

less workers 


if i were her

would i fight?


…and ma always fights.



her boss told them not to

that speaking out was

risking their jobs

that human resources

doesn’t like questions



the silicon valley is largely anti-union

the long hours, 


hiring practices,

and runaway jobs

would be unjust 

under labor laws.


my mother sees patterns,

says the new CEO is from intel,

that he hires anyone 

who’s worked there.

ma jokes that even her workplace

has intel inside.


ma and her co-workers

come together to raise funds

print flyers and

meet secretly

to throw

their former boss

a pizza party.