National Poetry Month Has Arrived

April is here; spring is in the air, flowers are starting to bloom, and it’s National Poetry Month!  Each year, Syracuse University Press takes a moment to recognize the work of talented poets by sharing one of our favorite pieces.  Last year we celebrated with Poe and this year we chose to commend one of our own, Laila Halaby.  She is a best-selling novelist and PEN Award winner who entered the world of poetry last year with her first collection my name on his tongue: poemsThrough her poetic words, Halaby forms a touching memoir that speaks to and for a large audience.

Halaby-au pic     home

as a young child
when Home
was where you lived
and where-are-you-from?
was more about your parents
I thought
I belonged
to the Whites
because that
was where
my house was

I pretended
those children
with chisels
in their powdery hands
and spit in their wet pink mouths
didn’t mean to hurt me
as they questioned
my name
my face
my place of birth
my father’s absence

later
when I stared
in the mirror
examined my skin
peeled it back
peeked through
at tissue and veins
and blood
saw who
I really was
I opted
for the Arabs
erased all
whiteness
erased my house
let those warm
dark arms
hold me
love me
make me theirs
build me
a new house

it worked
for a while

until I found
that Home
is inside
not out
that the view changesmy name on his tongue
depending
where I sit
which window
I look out of

mixed blood
is like an old trailer
that’s always frowned at
because no matter where
it’s parked
it’s always
out of place

on the other hand

you can drag it anywhere
if your hitch is strong enough
just be careful
if there’s a hurricane
or tornado
yours
will be the first to go

Happy National Poetry Month!

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