Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Poet Traveller: I'm On the Road Again - Tacoma Style

7 pm, this Friday night I will be reading at King's Books in Tacoma, WA as part of the Distinguished Writers Series sponsored by the Puget Sound Poetry Connection. Hello, Tacoma! I'm very excited to read here as it is my first time visiting King's Books --- a bookstore with a big town reputation.

After the reading there is an Open Mic so if you are coming, please bring a poem of your own to read! Then on Saturday, I head up to Port Townsend, Washington for the Port Townsend Women and Film Festival where I will moderate a panel for the Saturday night gala showing of Kirsten Johnson's  "Camera Person."

It's going to be a wild weekend! And then at 1:30 pm on Tuesday, April 12th, National Poetry Month at Highline College kicks off with a reading by the Poetry Contest Winners.

Here is a poem of mine dedicated to one of my former students. I hope you enjoy. 

Mohamud at the Mosque 

        ~for my student upon his graduation

And some time later in the lingering
blaze of summer, in the first days
after September 11th you phoned –

if I don’t tell anyone my name I’ll
pass for an African American.
And suddenly, this seemed a sensible solution –

the best protection: to be a black man
born in America, more invisible than
Somalian, Muslim, asylum seeker –

Others stayed away that first Friday
but your uncle insisted that you pray.
How fortunes change so swiftly

I hear you say. And as you parallel
park across from the Tukwila
mosque, a young woman cries out –

her fears unfurling beside your battered car
go back where you came from!
You stand, both of you, dazzling there

in the mid-day light, her pavement
facing off along your parking strip.
You tell me she is only trying

to protect her lawn, her trees,
her untended heart – already
alarmed by its directive.

And when the neighborhood
policeman appears, asks
you, asks her, asks the others –

So what seems to be the problem
He actually expects an answer,
as if any of us could name it –

as if perhaps your prayers
chanted as this cop stands guard
watching over your windshield

during the entire service
might hold back the world
we did not want to know.

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