Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Immigrant

  This city is not our city.
  This hand which scrambles
  to find the file and pen
  like seagull scrunching for food
  in theme park is not our hand.
  This street which squeezes
  houses into perfect square brownies
  is not our street.
  The hours which consumes our day
  in the work factory and stores,
  are not our lives.

  This train ride is not our journey.
  Nor the food we buy in the cafes
  our nourishment, the bread that
  fills our hunger and wine that fires
  our blood like autumn burst
  in the morning dawn, scorching the
  trees of russet skein and golden honey.

  This sound from the radio is not
  my music. My mother’s music
  is raw & pierces my skin.
  This smog, garbage & decay-
  I do not own them.
  I eat, I work, I spend
  and put my aches in Ziploc bags.
  Every day, I trudge back to
  this roof and thin walls but this
  is not my home.

  This shiny fruit is not our fruit.
  The seeds in this package are
  dry and scentless.
  Until one night
  I dream of giant kites
  & skies bristling of tamarind fruits.
  The maple trees are showing me
  how to comb
  the soil to feel its teeth.
  How to grow
  my tongue,
  arms & feet.
  How to weave
  seasons & colors.
  How to cast my
  words like rice grains for my children.

Update:   This poem was featured in Boston Poetry Magazine.

Shared with Imaginary Garden for Real Toads - Nov. 15, 2013 

Posted for D'verse Poets Pub - 100th OpenLinkNight - This post was written late last year and is languishing in my draft folder.   Looking back now, I have edited the ending and thought of sharing this to all of you.  Thanks for the visit ~

Picture credit:   Poetry Foundation - Snake  


  1. we put our aches in ziploc bags...wow what a line...powerful poem....the finding of the tongues and tossing words like rice to the children...new fav of yours grace...

    1. Don't you remember this poem Brian ~ Smiles ~

      Thanks for the support always ~

  2. This is extremely powerful, I like how you go under the skin of the immigrants and find their sadness.. The saddest part is that they have also lost their home, which many bear witness too.
    I think it's so important to bear in mind for people like myself that have the privilege of having a home... thank you for sharing.

  3. you paint them so well in this grace - how hard it must be if you have to leave your home country and adapt to a whole different culture - i can imagine how much they miss their homes and families... powerfully penned... and happy oln 100... thanks so much for the work you do in the pub..it's much appreciated..and thankful you're on the team...smiles

    1. Yes, its a challenge to adapt to a different country and culture ~

      I am thankful to be part of the team as D'verse has given me so much during the last 2 years ~

  4. Wow a year old one, sure powerful indeed under your sun. You burst all hopes of the cat too, no shiny fruit is mine, how rude. And you gave a version of zombie toes, well done!

    1. It's not as bad as yours, ha ~ Thanks for the visit Pat ~

  5. Beautiful flow to the inward chanting underlying throughout.>KB

  6. "The words leaping from our tongues
    like holiday greeting cards are not our words."


  7. Glad you chose to revisit this. Enjoyed this.

  8. A powerful and intense write. Excellently done.

  9. Love it.. " The words leaping from our tongues like holiday greeting cards are not our words" - i find this line to particularly true. indeed...for our children.

  10. A very subtle version of a powerful message here Grace. We do live in and out of perceived truths.

  11. Strangers in a strange land, as the saying goes--yes,that is a hard road to walk, where everything tastes, feels, smells and looks wrong...yet in the end, maybe the road will lead where you want it to end. This reads like a cry from the heart, Grace.

  12. love the Ziploc bags we put our aches in and, especially, the final stanza... but the whole poem, so achingly full of longing for an elsewhere not quite spoken - well done

  13. A great write and I relate to it. I immigrated to the states and I wonder sometimes how hard it was for my parents in the beginning. They left a great life behind so their children can live in peace.

  14. Grace, this poem really strikes the heart. Moon searching for amber eyes--trying to find our place our words. Beautiful:-)

  15. Grace, a poem that strikes the heart--moon searching for amber eyes, trying to find our place our words. Beautiful:-)

  16. I always envied those kids who grew up in one spot. We moved like gypsies, 10 elementary schools in 6 years; always the new kid, the immigrant, the stranger. In my case it molded me into a very competitive Type A personality who thrived on conflict, creating an emotional tool box put to good use later.

  17. I love your approach... Stating what it's not...

  18. But we are all immigrants...just visiting for a time...in a world that is not our home.

  19. Rice grains are so small - is that all we get to give our children after working so hard? There's much to think about with this poem.

  20. Oh, it must be hard for immigrants to look around and think that the city was not THEIR city. In the end each of us came from immigrant stock. If not we ourselves, our ancestors came from somewhere. It is everyone's city! Strong writing, Grace.

  21. Hi Grace, Powerful stuff... I especially enjoyed the last stanza.

    "To cast words
    Like rice grains
    For our children"

    is simply outstanding... Thank you

  22. Such a powerful piece--beautifully written Grace--my parents came over from other places--and for them--their dreams vested themselves firmly in our futures--

  23. You've touched upon the motivation of many imigrants, I'm sure, in your close, that it's "for our children." Sweet write, Grace. Glad you let some of us see it for the first time.

  24. The immigrant is forever thinking in terms of a temporary stance not really within. It's only the second generation that works out and makes an impact to take in the goodness already charted out. Truly said Grace!


  25. " The hours which consumes our day
    in the work factory and stores,
    are not our lives."

    and why I feel so blessed to be no longer employed ;-)

  26. "This street which squeezes"

    my favorite line - encapsulates the sense of not fitting (in).

    Wonderful - happy 100, Grace ~ M

  27. Wow another poem that gives the heart a shake. "We eat, we work, we spend
    and put our aches in Ziploc bags." Very original and poignant. Bravo!

  28. "Not our haven". They so seem to have a strong sense of community, something not all Americans have. I think it would be difficult to visit another country with a different language/culture let alone immigrate. I really like the reference at the end "like rice grains "

  29. Powerful write, how hard it must be to leave your own country and try to adapt to another... and often because there is no other choice. A real challenge to look at it from an immigrants perspective...nice write!

  30. Ay! You captured that immigrant feeling. Our adopted homelands are our homes now and yet there is something amiss. Sometimes, I want to or need to speak in the mother tongue but nobody will understand me. But for our children, where we are is their home even when there are distant chords telling them that they belong somewhere else too. :-)


  31. Oh, I loved the ending...and the amber eyes...loved it all, actually! :)

  32. We are all immigrants. But you have captured well the terrible feeling of those unloved. No one should go unloved, unappreciated for together we make a whole world and separated we do not have a whole world. This is beautiful Grace.

  33. It's definitely a perspective we should all explore every now and then. This life is hard enough... I can't imagine what they must endure.

  34. The echoing of "this is not our..." throughout this piece really magnifies the pain and longing of the immigrant. Well told Grace, and felt!

  35. ..and neither ours Grace... we own nothing & noone for we are all immigrants in this tiny world where the only thing that counts big is our hopes & dreams... you do know what it feels to be there but feet sealed...can't walk barefoot in a land that never tastes like home... smiles... you scared me with the photo but i must say an excellent material to go with poetry... smiles...

  36. so intense. i love the turn you give it at the end - reading through the poem, i got this unsettling feeling in my stomach... then i got to the last stanza, and... just awh. :)
    the amber eyes...
    so good!

  37. Intense. Loved the third stanza - the Ziploc bags - just wow. Very fresh approach, made me really feel like I was momentarily under their skin, seeing through their eyes. I felt I could relate to this, even though I've merely emigrated withib my own country. Thanks for the read!

  38. Life really is perception...we all have our prism in which to view things. I love how you lent a voice to the voiceless here...

  39. Grace, we all are simply visiting here. I like how progress with the poem and close it very strong.


  40. That last verse stands all by itself.

  41. It has very much an 'outsider' sense to it.

  42. Powerful. Your words are like grit I wasn't expecting but I am at a loss for words here - truly amazing piece here

  43. A strong and lovely poem, Grace. It must be very strange for some; others are able to fit into a close knit community but even for those, difficult. Thanks. k . (This is Karin/maniccdaily on blogger blog.)

  44. such a flow of words and that too... so powerful...hats off to you...

  45. a powerful return to words that should not languish

  46. Powerful words Grace.
    I often feel a sense of alienation in my day-to-day living, as if I am reluctantly following anothers plan - and of course I am, we all do...
    Love these words:-
    "This city, we are learning
    to grow
    our tongues,
    hands & feet --
    To cast words
    like rice grains
    for our children --"
    Anna :o]

  47. Late to your show, Grace, but so glad I came. This is really powerful. Here in the UK it is not just recent immigrants who feel like this; for many people this is where they exist, but it is not their home, not a place to really live, just a place to endure the daily grind.

  48. ... Immigrants are sitting between 2 chairs for the rest of their lives ... they cry, because they know they will never belong again ... but they smile, when they see their kids ... belong ... I know ... smiles ... Love, cat.


Thank you for your comments and visit. I appreciate them ~