Published on Academy of American Poets (

He, Too

Returning to the US, he asks
my occupation. Teacher.

What do you teach?

I hate poetry, the officer says,
I only like writing
where you can make an argument.

Anything he asks, I must answer.
This he likes, too.

I don’t tell him
he will be in a poem
where the argument will be


I place him here, puffy,
pink, ringed in plexi, pleased

with his own wit
and spittle. Saving the argument
I am let in

I am let in until


Copyright © 2020 by Solmaz Sharif. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 16, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem was written in between immigration bans. It was inspired by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer.”
Solmaz Sharif


Solmaz Sharif

Solmaz Sharif  is the author of Customs (Graywolf, 2022) and Look (Graywolf, 2016). She is the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rona Jaffe Foundation.

Date Published: 2020-10-16

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