American Poet, Songwriter and Novelist
Naomi Shihab Nye
American Poet, Songwriter and Novelist
And didn?t we pledge, pledge, pledge, palms on our chests, every day we lived, pledge to the one nation, the freedom we believed in, didn?t we? Fat lot of good.
But I know we need to keep warm here on earth and when your shawl is as thin as mine is, you tell stories.
I have slept so many times you might think I would really be awake by now.
I?m still the kid dreaming of the lives she?ll never have but guess what? Maybe she doesn?t want them.
Making a Fist: For the first time, on the road north of Tampico, I felt the life sliding out of me, a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear. I was seven, I lay in the car watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass. My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin. How do you know if you are going to die? I begged my mother. We had been traveling for days. With strange confidence she answered, When you can no longer make a fist. Years later I smile to think of that journey, the borders we must cross separately, stamped with our unanswerable woes. I who did not die, who am still living, still lying in the backseat behind all my questions, clenching and opening one small hand.
Poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes, they are sleeping. They are the shadows drifting across our ceilings the moment before we wake up. What we have to do is live in a way that lets us find them.
The long sorrow of the color red.
We start out as little bits of disconnected dust.
Answer, if you hear the words under the words- otherwise it is just a world with a lot of rough edges, difficult to get through, and our pockets full of stones.
But pain and anguish were everywhere anyway. Might as well put them to good use.
I keep thinking, we teach children to use language to solve their disputes. We teach them not to hit and fight and bite. Then look what adults do!
I?m the sea, I?m not afraid of the storm. The sea?s dream is always turbulence. If I don?t have waves and storms, I won?t be the sea anymore. I?ll be the pond? and stinking.
Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us we find poems.
Poetry [is] more necessary than ever as a fire to light our tongues.
The person you have known a long time is embedded in you like a jewel. The person you have just met casts out a few glistening beams & you are fascinated to see more of them. How many more are there? With someone you've barely met the curiosity is intoxicating.
We walked where the ancient pier juts into the sea. Stood on the rim of the pool, by the circle of black boulders. No one saw we were there and everyone who had ever been there stood silently in air. Where else do we ever have to go, and why?
Anyone who says, ?Here?s my address, write me a poem,? deserves something in reply. So I?ll tell you a secret instead: poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes, they are sleeping. They are the shadows drifting across our ceilings the moment before we wake up. What we have to do is live in a way that lets us find them.
But we love you, my parents said. We love you very much. I know, but they loved me as a girl. The boy within me was stuck with me. Not till much later did I find out that the boy within was really a girl.
I knew what slant of light would make you turn over. It was then I felt the highways slide out of my hands. I remembered the old men in the west side cafe, dealing dominoes like magical charms.
If a teacher told me to revise, I thought that meant my writing was a broken-down car that needed to go to the repair shop. I felt insulted. I didn't realize the teacher was saying, 'Make it shine. It's worth it.' Now I see revision as a beautiful word of hope. It's a new vision of something. It means you don't have to be perfect the first time. What a relief!
Maybe we should just wander around other countries carrying books.
Poetry calls us to pause. There is so much we overlook, while the abundance around us continues to shimmer, on its own.
The real heroes of race and culture would always be the people who stepped out of their own line to make a larger circle.
What did exclusivity ever have to offer but a distorted, unrealistic view of the world? People who stuck only to their own kind were scared people.
Apparently people commonly died when their loved ones were out of the room. Bathroom break. Quick trip down to the cafeteria for a grilled cheese. It was easier to die if you didn't have family members to worry about at that exact moment.