8/30 Poems in November: Of All the Days

photo-1473090826765-d54ac2fdc1eb-1

Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
a new American.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
disabled.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
a descendant
of slaves.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
mentally ill.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
Native American.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
multiracial.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
a veteran.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
Muslim and misunderstood.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
blue
in a red place
or gay
in a hateful place
or trans
in an ignorant place.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
scared to speak
your truth.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being wrapped up
in a flag
that’s meant
to protect you.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
privileged enough
to vote
your conscience.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of paying
taxes,
caring for the elderly,
providing for the sick,
healing our own shit,
and raising
kids who care.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
a refugee
when it’s hard enough
to have fled
your homeland.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of belonging
to not only a group
of people
but a community
of humans
who by birth
or accident
or choice
call themselves
Americans.
Of all the days
to consider
equal pay.
Of all the days
to consider
our bodies, ourselves.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
responsible.
Of all the days
to consider
the experience
of being
powerless.
Of all the days
to consider
exercising
the ultimate right —
to cast your ballot
in the box
for the one
who tells the world:
We are better
than that.
We have to do better.
Just watch
and we will.

8/30

**

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.

Visit my personal donation page here, and read the #30poemsinnovember I’ve written so far here.

6/30 Poems in November: Kid Special

Today’s entries come from my kids.

Processed with VSCO with e3 preset

1.

my heart was in pieces
and you tied it up
with the laces of your converse

— high-waisted love

— Aviva Strong, age 14

2.

If I met a genie, know what I would wish?
I’d wish to become a flying fish.
I’d swim like a rocket, take to the air at my best,
then be the first trout to build a nest.

flying-fish

— Pearl Strong, age 10

6/30

**

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, and read the #30poemsinnovember I’ve written so far here.

5/30 Poems in November: Will We Stay?

questions“What are we going to do if he wins?”
“Will we stay here?”
“Dada said he’d move to New Zealand if you would go.”
“You said you’d leave the country if Dada would.”
“I have a friend on the west coast of Canada.”
“Can we move there?”
“But what about our stuff?”
“What about my best friend?”
“Would we be poor?”
“How would you get a green card?”
“Would your marriage still be legal?”
“Dada would have to find a new job.”
“Could you still do your work in another country?”
“Can we move to Amsterdam? Amsterdam is lit.”
“Wait, only one suitcase?”
“So we would just sleep on the floor?”
“This is the first year I’ve ever cared about politics.”
“What will we do if he wins?”

The images come flooding the empty plain 
of my lack of good — or any — answers: 
You, my child, with the blond hair and blues eyes. 
You could pass. You could lie about your mother line. 
But you will always be mine. 
You will always be mine.

5/30

**

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, and read the #30poemsinnovember I’ve written so far here.

4/30 Poems in November: No

noNo.
Full sentence.
Full stop.
The beginning.
The middle.
The end.
NO.
I don’t like that.
I don’t want to.
It doesn’t feel good.
I’m not ready.
I don’t know why.
Why doesn’t matter.
No and no.
Not polite.
Not nice.
Not smiling.
Not sweet.
NO.
Short for “number.”
I’m gonna be your number 1.
I’m gonna be my own best friend.
No.
I need something.
But not this.
NO. I’m not sorry.
NO. You don’t own me.
NO. I don’t owe you.
No.
Nearly killed me.
No. Saved me.
No. Scared me.
No. Cost me.
No. Delivered me.
No. Will not be televised.
No walks.
No votes.
No perches and watches.
No always knows.
No is generous
when it’s true.
No way no how.
No go.
No nonsense.
Nor’easter. No shit.
No way past but through.
Nobody got time for that.
No. A mural.
A syllable.
A circle.
Self-contained. Complete.
No.

4/30

**

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

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.

3/30

**

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