What is home: 
it is the shade of trees on my way to school
    before they were uprooted.
It is my grandparents’ black-and-white wedding 
    photo before the walls crumbled. 
It is my uncle’s prayer rug, where dozens of ants
   slept on wintry nights, before it was looted and 
   put in a museum. 
It is the oven my mother used to bake bread and 
   roast chicken before a bomb reduced our house 
   to ashes. 
It is the café where I watched football matches
   and played—

My child stops me: Can a four-letter word hold
   all of these? 

From Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear by Mosab Abu Toha. Copyright © 2022 by Mosab Abu Toha. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of City Lights Publishers.

To those who come after, this is the law of the town—
the South Side is not a place, but a state of being,
a song, the candy lady circling around
the blocks with walking tacos, Kool-Aid unfreezing

in Styrofoam cups. Happiness costs so little
for those who are willing to buy. And everyone
has a name; the man who drives the ice-cream truck, the nickel-
and-dime bag boys with Frootie Rolls lining one

side of their jackets’ insides—Mr. Bradley,
Joshua ’nem, their presence steady as statues.
How much of this city is flavor? The thick and sappy
taste of too sweet, too quick to melt, the cashew

crunch of Garrett popcorn mix? It’s sensory;
the act of remembering, of making memory.

From I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times (Soft Skull, 2023) by Taylor Byas. Copyright © 2023 by Taylor Byas. Used with the permission of the Soft Skull Press, an imprint of Catapult LLC.

It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
Afore ye really ’preciate the things ye lef’ behind,
An’ hunger fer ’em somehow, with ’em allus on yer mind.
It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
How much yer chairs an’ tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.

Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ livin’ in it;
Within the walls there’s got t’ be some babies born, and then
Right there ye’ve got t’ bring ‘em up t’ women good, an’ men;
And gradjerly, as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn’t part
With anything they ever used—they’ve grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an’ if ye could ye’d keep the thumbmarks on the door.

Ye’ve got t’ weep t’ make it home, ye’ve got t’ sit an’ sigh
An’ watch beside a loved one’s bed, an’ know that Death is nigh;
An’ in the stillness o’ the night t’ see Death’s angel come,
An’ close the eyes o’ her that smiled, an’ leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an’ when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an’ sanctified;
An’ tuggin’ at ye always are the pleasant memories
O’ her that was an’ is no more—ye can’t escape from these.

Ye’ve got t’ sing an’ dance fer years, ye’ve got t’ romp an’ play,
An’ learn t’ love the things ye have by usin’ ’em each day;
Even the roses ’round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they ’come a part o’ ye, suggestin’ someone dear
Who used t’ love ’em long ago, an’ trained ’em jes’ t’ run
The way they do, so’s they would get the early mornin’ sun;
Ye’ve got t’ love each brick an’ stone from cellar up t’ dome:
It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on September 2, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

New Year on my mountain

mama says: long noodles, long life,
so I slurp them loud, drink gingery
broth—polka-dot beads of sweat
forming as my nose hovers over
the soup’s steam. circles for luck.

circles on my dress. papa says:
make a lot of noise! so the children
bang on pots & pans to hush
yesterday’s demons. later, in the cold,

the family plods up the hill to wonder
at the fireworks, sky like a warzone lit
with spraying flames from Roman Candles—
fire on the ground from Watusi whips snaking
& coiling, sizzling our feet.

I feel it all in my chest—
a drumming,
a warning, a spell.

back in the yard, granny doles out rice
& meat, pineapple liquor, glass bottles
of Sprite. but I am snoring by midnight,
my sisters & I still swathed in red chiffon.

by morning, I cry because I missed it.
I cry because they say I’m not alone.
I cry because home is a warning,
its pulse a whiff of flint in the dark.

Copyright © 2023 by Ina Cariño. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 17, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.