I am trying to remember that feeling of being completely present and alive. Moments of say, turning over a rock and staring at the worm, the roly-poly bug, and just being enthralled. I will admit that I ate junk cereal and watched a lot of cartoons. I loved the Smurfs. Yet like all kids, I had a rich inner life. Some kids are left to their own devices more so than others, and then the imagination flourishes in a kind of benign neglect, like coral reefs that flourished off the coast of Cuba.Read the full story, Go into Yourself: A Conversation with Safia Jama.
We walked all the way downtown,
past the church,
past the policeman’s frown,
’til we neared that cordoned-off,
hollow space, the ashes long
since blown away.
I read a sign that said closed for the day.
And if you wish to visit,
you’ll have to reserve
to mourn your loss
and shed your tears;
a grief neglected
must be paid in arrears.
Now we walk around the edges
through the cracks, and hear
the low rumble
of subway tracks.
The protesters in Zuccotti Park
make a half-hearted cheer;
walking past the firehouse,
I shed 343 tears.
We stand at the memorial’s entrance,
and see the tops of a few trees.
I guess I had hoped
for more than these
hotel bars & blaring TV’s.
I know, I should have called ahead.
Still, I wish there was a place
to go and grieve at odd hours,
without a pass
or an appointment.
September 17, 2012
Muftah Magazine’s Hiba Zayadin writes: “Safia’s poetic style is subtle in nature. There is an unexpected rawness to her otherwise gentle poems that lingers long after you’ve read the last verse.” I invite you to read the full story, which includes a Q & A and five new poems from my book-length manuscript.
Blue whale swallowing the world.
24-hour hotline: Occasional no answer.
We show our wares and want to be well-liked.
This first-born, we place in your blue box.
Walls made of war and Happy Birthday.
Humanity, mashed up with a fork.
This video has no sound.
This sad dog will not go out for walks.
May his tears deepen the intensity of your blue frame.
The Offing’s Aricka Foreman spotlighted my poetry in “I Slay: 11 Women Artists To Get Us Into Formation.” Foreman writes: “To be a rebel woman, in the simplest of terms, means to speak for herself, of and for her life, honestly.” For the record, I love this definition. I wrote and posted my poem, When They Ask About Your Summer, here on this very blog two summers ago. I recall feeling a need to share my poetry without having to submit my work to an institution. I like how Foreman splices artists of various disciplines, together, forming a virtual collective of rebel women. Foreman eschews the usual hierarchies: No one is listed under a number, and multiple genres are represented. Several of my heroes, like Zadie Smith, Edwidge Danticat, and Maxine Hong Kingston, are featured alongside writers I look forward to getting to know, like Gala Mukomolova and Meredith Talusan. Much gratitude to the Offing for recognizing the work of women writers and artists making their own respective paths in the world.
sit across from me
and make light chatter
turning the pages of a Bible
as if I were a hearth
in their living room.
They collected cans
in the light rain:
her good windbreaker, his wide-brimmed hat.
Enter a girl in white sneakers.
She sits near me
and strokes a pink wire that blots
out the world.
I take out my pen
to record this moment,
maybe ruin it a little.
For a few stops we are carefree
as car keys in a country drive.