My family never stopped migrating. We fight
so hard. With each other and ourselves. Don’t
talk about that. Not now. There is never
a good time and I learn that songs are the only
moments that last forever. But my mother
always brings me the instant coffee my
dede drank before he died. She wraps it
so carefully in a plastic bag from the market
that we go to when Caddebostan feels unreachable.
We don’t talk about that. Or the grief.
Or my short hair. I want to know what
dede would have said. I want to know that he
can feel the warm wind too if he tried.
We fight so hard. We open the tops of
each other’s heads and watch the birds
fly out. We still don’t talk about my dede.
Copyright © 2021 by beyza ozer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 6, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
after Yvan Goll
In the absent oils of your eyes two brown ores
resting leisurely on the view of your children.
You uncoil casually. My hand slipping
to the west and what was felled fills me
until I fall forward injuring your already dead arm.
I am so sorry. Our wills in a twist. Electric.
Some pulse between the gurney and the distant coffin.
My camera shutter clicking wildly around my neck.
Back home tus rab hlau searches for your hands.
The soil to harden. Rapture on the way. Onions
sprouting passionately as neglected gardens do.
The seven prisms of my blood bursting through my ears.
Your living children still living. Your garden goddess
drying the last goods in her shrine. With spring-like
precision the sun weeps until I boil. My head cracked
in four places. The ribbed earth catching fatal drops
of your blood or mine. You beseech me but in my time
I’ve slept away the sun. The underside of distance.
But I behold you now in this cool church and for a ransom.
I photograph you again and again. Your form crystalizing.
Your parted mouth a new annex to the ancestral house.
Your bones at the table. O how fair the jaundiced skies.
You get up to close that clear brittle door.
Copyright © 2020 by Khaty Xiong. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 10, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
Yallah habibti, move your tongue like the sea
easy. My big sister teaches me to ululate, rolls
her tongue in waves. Dips thin fingers inside
my mouth to pull out mine, stretches it long
and pinches the tip. Watch, we move tongues
like this. I see the walls of our father’s house
collapse and we swim free leleleleleleleleleee
On the ferry to Tangier I shriek across the sea.
Practice how to sound like a real woman. Old
aunties grab my buttocks, smush their breasts
against my back and sing leleleleleleleleleleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Don’t cover your mouth habibti! Only women
on the upper deck, only sea. We move tongues
like this to tell the waves stay back, tell men
stay back, tell the dead stay gone, tell runaway
wives stay gone. They turn me into wisteria
woman, limbs wrapped around poles and thighs
as they guide me. Throw back your head, epiglottis
to the breeze. Salt air burns my hot membranes,
scratches at the tight knots of my chords.
All my life I was told
women must swallow sand
unless we are sounding
Copyright © 2018 by Seema Yasmin. This poem originally appeared in Foundry. Used with permission of the poet.
when you break thru
a poet here
not quite what one would choose.
I won’t promise
you’ll never go hungry
or that you won’t be sad
on this gutted
but I can show you
enough to love
to break your heart
From Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems (City Lights Publishers, 1990). Copyright © 1990 Diane di Prima. Used with permission of Sheppard Powell.