“Home” by Warsan Shire

An important poem for our time.

You’ve probably already seen this on your Facebook feed, a poem about displacement and the refugee experience, but I  post it here for you nonetheless, a reminder that these refugees are people: mothers, children, brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives. And that home is something we have taken for granted but no longer can. Read it here: “Home” and then add your voice to that of creation, not destruction.

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Poetic Inspiration

My AP students took a practice exam on Tuesday that included this poem by Julia Alvarez. I am quite inspired by it. They are just beginning to scratch the surface of it. We’ll discuss on Monday what lies beneath the surface.  I hope you enjoy it.  

On Not Shoplifting Louise Bogan’s The Blue Estuaries

Connecticut College, 1968

Your book surprised me on the bookstore shelf —
swans gliding on a blueblack lake;
no blurbs by the big boys on back;
no sassy, big-haired picture
to complicate the achievement;
no mentors musing
over how they had discovered
you had it in you
before you even knew
you had it in you.
The swans posed on a placid lake,
your name blurred underwater
sinking to the bottom.

I had begun to haunt
the poetry shelf at the college store —
thin books crowded in by texts,
reference tomes and a spread
of magazines for persistent teens
on how to get their boys,
Chaucer-Milton-Shakespeare-Yeats.
Your name was not familiar,
I took down the book and read.

Page after page, your poems
were stirring my own poems —
words rose, breaking the surface,
shattering an old silence.
I leaned closer to the print
until I could almost feel
the blue waters drawn
into the tip of my pen.
I bore down on the page,
the lake flowed out again,
the swans, the darkening sky.
For a moment I lost my doubts,
my girl’s voice, my coming late
into this foreign alphabet.
I read and wrote as I read.

I wanted to own this moment.
My breath came quickly, thinking it over —
I had no money, no one was looking.
The swans posed on the cover,
their question-mark necks arced
over the dark waters.
I was asking them what to do . . .

The words they swam over answered.
I held the book closed before me
as if it were something else,
a mirror reflecting back
someone I was becoming.
The swans dipped their alphabet necks
in the blueblack ink of the lake.
I touched their blank, downy sides, musing,
and I put the book back.

Clinging to Tomorrow

via Daily Prompt: Cling

You don’t eat an orange by shoving the
Whole thing in your mouth.
You eat it section by section,
Savoring the juicy orange-ness
Of each bite, letting the snap and dribble
Transport you
To a sunny Florida grove,
Away from the cold, gray, slushy winter
While the heat whistles and pops,
Fogging up the windows
Of your tiny New York apartment
Creating a drawing board for palm trees
And sunny beaches.
And you wait, and dream, for tomorrow
When you’ll finally take a bite out of life
And try to swallow it whole
Instead of enjoying this moment, this slice,
Of crystalline snow flakes bejewelling the window
Calling you outside now to catch
Them, one by one, on your tongue.

Daily Prompt: Crossing

via Daily Prompt: Crossing

The weary day descends into evening,

Yet its scattered detritus remains,

Waiting to be swept away as the home

Is prepared for tomorrow’s onslaught.

You are crossing the room again and again

To replace and retire the materials of the day;

Little by little it regains its edges

Allowing a more peaceful transition

Into that morrow which waits in anticipation

Of the passage you and it will traverse together.