Friday, April 27, 2018

NPM 4-27: Poems by Safia Elhilllo

All this month I've been sharing poems as they move me. I've made an effort to read new to me poets and poems. Today I'm sharing poems by Safia Elhillo, a poet I learned about when I saw this advertisement during the Olympics. The poem is called Kintsugi.

Here's another poem by Elhillo.

ars poetica

“Autobiography practiced in the enemy’s language has the texture of fiction.”
– Assia Djebar, Fantasia

“Autobiography practiced in the enemy’s language has the texture of fiction.”
– Assia Djebar, Fantasia

in ohio i tell a classroom of white students a story i mean to be beautiful
about my grandfather      retreating in his old age to his first tongue

in which there are no separate words for like & love      once at a restaurant
meaning    i think    to say i would like some tomato soup     repeats

to our flustered waitress      i love tomato soup      i love tomato soup
& the white students & the white professors like my story     they think i mean it

to be comic    the room balloons with their delight      they are laughing
at my grandfather & it is my fault    for carving tendernesses from my old life

without context      parading to strangers my weak translations
now they think i am joking & lap     at my every dripping word

& isn’t this why i learned this language      to graduate
from my thick & pungent newness      my accent & my nameless shoes       to float

my hands like a conductor         redirect the laughter to a body not my own
for a moment of quiet inside my traitor’s head

I  do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

NPM 4-26: Requiem for the left hand

Today I'm sharing a poem by Cuban poet Nancy Morejón. You can learn more about Morejón at The Poetry Center at Smith College.

Requiem for the left hand

                         For Marta Valdés

On a map you can draw all the lines
          horizontal, straight, diagonal
from the meridian of Greenwich to the Gulf of Mexico
                    lines that more or less
reflect our idiosyncrasy

there are also very large maps
                    in the imagination
and infinite terrestrial globes

but today I guess that on very
          small map
the smallest
drawn on notebook paper
          all of history can fit

Happy Thursday all.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

NPM 4-25: Poem About My Rights

Today I'm sharing a poem by June Jordan, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants born in Harlem in 1936. I have just learned about her and her writing and am humbled by it. You can read more about her at the Poetry Foundation.

Poem about My Rights

Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
stay there
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own
body and
who in the hell set things up
like this

Read the poem in its entirety.

Happy Wednesday all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

NPM 4-24: Maps

Today I'm sharing a poem by Yesenia Montilla.


For Marcelo

Some maps have blue borders
like the blue of your name
or the tributary lacing of
veins running through your
father’s hands. & how the last
time I saw you, you held
me for so long I saw whole
lifetimes flooding by me
small tentacles reaching
for both our faces. I wish
maps would be without
borders & that we belonged
to no one & to everyone
at once, what a world that
would be. Or not a world
maybe we would call it
something more intrinsic
like forgiving or something
simplistic like river or dirt.
& if I were to see you
tomorrow & everyone you
came from had disappeared
I would weep with you & drown
out any black lines that this
earth allowed us to give it—
because what is a map but
a useless prison? We are all
so lost & no naming of blank
spaces can save us. & what
is a map but the delusion of
safety? The line drawn is always
in the sand & folds on itself
before we’re done making it.
& that line, there, south of
el rio, how it dares to cover
up the bodies, as though we
would forget who died there
& for what? As if we could
forget that if you spin a globe
& stop it with your finger
you’ll land it on top of someone
living, someone who was not
expecting to be crushed by thirst—

This poem was first published in Poem-a-Day on March 28, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Happy Tuesday all!

Monday, April 23, 2018

NPM 4-23: Names

Spoken word poetry sometimes brings me to my knees.

Happy Monday all.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

NPM 4-22: Pinning Down

Today I'm sharing a poem by Jill Peláez Baumgartner, a Professor of English and the Dean of Humanities and Theological Studies at Wheaton College.

Pinning Down

My names, a drunkenness of vowels,
l’s, ümlauts, a mélange of ancestries,
diacritics, an unreasonable stretch
of signature, this seven-syllable
amalgam, this roughhouse of families,
this farrago of Spanish, English,
German, this gallimaufry
of tree gardener, medieval shrew,
Pelayo’s son, this rummage
sale of dactyl and anapest.

This, what I announce near the titles
of poems or at their endings,
on office door and syllabus,
name tags squeezing it into the exquisite
particularity of syllables.

To be envied: the orderly
timbre of Mary Smith
and its portable anonymity.

But here, now,
inextricably attached,
I stumble after, as my names,
roughshod, wheelless,
go galumphing on,
vowel-net unfurled,
all of my consonants pushing ahead
like a lopsided cow catcher.

Happy Sunday all.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

NPM 4-21: Valentine for Ernest Mann

Today I'll be walking all over downtown Richmond as part of the 2018 RVA Taco Crawl. Since I'll be eating tacos at 7 different restaurants, it will be good to walk a bit between bites.

Whenever I hear the word taco, I can't help but think of Naomi Shihab Nye and her poem Valentine for Ernest Mann.
You can read it at

Happy Saturday all.