3/30 Poems in November: Options

phone-callThursday morning.
A disembodied voice. A hollow
apple core. The definition of “integrity”
in your inbox. Early voting
sticker on fridge door.
Fallow farms where migrant workers
pick your produce. Inspiration
either lives nowhere or everywhere
and everything is either just as it seems
or nothing is what it seems.
How do you tell the difference?
Don’t think. Just sit there.
Nothing conventional about this
and who decides what counts
as wisdom? Solid or shifting,
precarious, political, press one
for uncomfortable and two for nice,
three to hang up.
Why don’t we know how to stay
with what’s hard to look at?
Let me rephrase that: Why don’t I?
A morning phone call
led to conversation about the body.
What would your ankle say
about the family secrets you know
you don’t know and you,
so many states away,
who dig and scratch
and knock and persist,
making everyone
so uncomfortable? Keep it up.
That thing you don’t think
is interesting or worthy
of a proper burial
is the one-woman show
I’ll be lining up for
when the tickets finally go
on sale.



30 Poems in November! is a literary fundraiser for Center for New Americans. Center for New Americans welcomes and serves immigrants in Western Massachusetts with free English classes and a range of support services. For more information, please visit cnam.org This year, we aim to raise $30,000. Writers do their part by writing one poem each day in November. Friends and family do their part by donating to support this effort. Powerful new poems and financial contributions translate to community support for immigrants.

Some of the most meaningful work I’ve ever done was in my early 20s at the Riverside Church in NYC, leading English-language conversations with new Americans from countries all over the world. It was then that I was privileged to witness the courage, resilience, patience, and grit that immigrants and refugees must have in order to navigate life in a new language and culture.

Since poetry is one of the way I practice showing up in the world, for the month of November, I vow to write one poem a day as a small gesture of respect for and in solidarity with those who land in the Pioneer Valley as new Americans. Your donation will spur me on and, more importantly, support the newest members of our community.

Make your donation here


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