Theme for October 15 to November 14, 2015

Every inch of this land is woven with migrant trails. These are pathways from family to family, country to country, and most of all heart to heart. For this month, find a trail and travel through it to a new dream. What do you see in your travels? And how do you make friends along the way? Describe for me in the language of poetry—migrate into new words, use new landscapes of images.


Would a family move to another country?
Would they not hold some memories?
Would they not miss their food?
We carry our past
We carry our traditions
Why do they hold them back?


Life comes at us in many directions
From the east, the rising sun.
From the north, the guiding star.
From the south, the promise of spring.
And from the west, the horizon, the out there
To which we gaze and wonder.

Beauty Beholden

The thin hunched old woman
who mumbled hauntingly in a foreign language.
Blue gray veins lining her neck and limbs
like the roads on a Rand McNally map.
Strength and beauty rein, albeit too late
to grasp her deeply.

It’s from the ‘I,’ and I flew in a metal bird to the USA from SE Asia, where we shuttled on waterborne metal foils. In these modes of transit, in these views of water and continents, I acquired friends in the new land by reading in my new home.

I know some bird. When I read in the morning they are talking in an innocent language. Maybe that day was cloudy and dark but my new group of friends recognized me as a child. When I used to listen to classical music or Tagore songs my new friends would respond too.

Daughter of immigrants, college education paid in reparations, moving toward a fairer tomorrow

Rusty-skinned, eagle spirit heart encounters
paled, determined son of Leif’s bloods
Lives forever changed
Lines forever intertwined
Branches reaching
Touching, stirring
in the breeze
of kilts, lords, brogues
unapologetically me

Grandma says,
When the Russians came
I was 88 lbs,
I walked with a stick
& I
couldn’t speak for 2 years  
But I came to America
& laughed so hard again
& saw new wonders again:
Uncle Miltie on tv
& the new synagogue
& food like
you couldn’t believe

The institution of heartfelts,
Mí corazón, niños, abuelita,
Emblems of love that peel
Or flake, like the aluminum leafing
Around an expensive chocolate.

A battle each day
to earn Place—earth
within Earth.
O Stratum that shall bear
our name, our pennant
of flecked necessary blood
from dust lungs that breathed
a lust for Home.
We only ask our language
join with yours
and make this new Speech.

Hurry with your luggage. For nothing, they will shoot the center of your forehead. What is crammed so crucial?
Please, the two huge rubies, your husband’s photo in the front of your pinched shoes – try to step a normal gait. Might you dance?

Our ancestors spoke to us
Longing to return
To the wind on Achill Island
Where Mary taught Irish
Maura’s girls are Irish dancers!
Nana said “County Mayo God Help Us”
Where Great-Grandfather set sail in 1854
The fields of Ceide miss his bones

My granddaughter’s 6 year-old chocolate hand.
Folded gently into my age spotted vanilla hand.
We walk skin to skin.
We walk love to love.

There is a sun,
bright and full of light,
gives us hope,
gives us fear,
nevertheless still dear.

Walking among the night I glance upon the stars
Each resembles an individual within our society
Twinkling one by one as I imagine the future
A future where we are united and equal
A future where we work together, where we work as one

Parents, grandparents, sister and me,
In the orchard at dawn.
Grownups picking peaches.
Sister telling stories, playing games.
Okie families, Mexican families.
Dust, heat, peach fuzz.
Children laugh, grownups work. Five cents a box.

I see you doing your own thing
just noticing how things are done.
the un-said is done, instead of
noticing what is really did.
The Lies are told to cover the body of you.
covering you up inch by inch.
For what though? To complete the image of me?


People who stand by you on the road of life,
And don’t judge you along the way.
They tell you what you need to hear,
Supporting you in a way.
Don’t let go of them,
Because you’ll need them someday.

New Life Who’s This,
This is the same girl from third grade with a slight glow,
She is the same child you’ve known your whole life except she’s grown up,
New Life Who’s This,
This is the same girl with brown skin,
The same girl who is now a woman.

Foreigners transported, indigenous displaced.
Tickets and tears, chains and fears
Now forged, launched, becoming indeed Us Americans
Future unfolding, hope beholding
Liberty’s torch lighting our way;
Foreigners with a ways
To go.

My mind moved between the mountains that Failure had created. He pushed at my core’s plates & the headache mountains formed in the darkest areas of my mind. I moved beyond the mountains to the grass field created by Hope. She now leads me.

Odd to be half ancient and half
Earthling living in a modern world
Being half Jamaican and half American, called
African American
Living feeling like a half
With constant replays of past
Acceptance and honor.
Seeking oneness.

Displaced, they came with nothing but hope packed up in burlap sacks,
held in calloused hands, and clutched close to courageous hearts.

Footsteps closer toward the heart;
where rhythm beats against ribs.
Closer toward me and away from me.
My travel companions are the only
voices I see.
Together is what I will bleed;
on that day where dreams become
seeds upon the soil of souls.

Let’s walk in a slow way
carrying our beds and phones
Let’s use a new car to go to a new place
where do you come from
I will come to New York
Let’s go home in a long way
so that we can share food
Let’s use new instruments
make a celebratory noise

Let’s travel in a voluntaria way
with tradiciones and dreams
Let’s migrate to the land of oportunidades
where there are modern ciudades and altos buildings
Let’s travel
so we can dream like los otros
aunque we don’t have tarjetas verdes

Let us viajar in a free way
on easy pathways
carrying traditions and culture
Let us travel to a nuevo place
where los sueños become reality
and we will be felices.
Let us go to a different country
where it is más seguro and
we can get a better life.

Let us travel by airplane
on altos caminos
with clothes and cellphones
Let us migrate to Mexico
where there are chiles and delicious comida
and we will visit family.

We travel through life wondering what the future will hold and what people we will meet along the way. We meet nice people, bad people. But what is more important is who we accept into our lives. The big question is who will you let in your life.

Immigrants luchadores por su journey
Fighters decididos en long trails
Fronteras with mala influence
Fighting for el sueño Americano
Al end some succeed otros fracasan.

Let us travel in a nervous way
with books and backpack
Let us migrate to Canada
where there is cold weather and food

Let’s travel a pie way
on dificil trails
with amigos and familia
Let us migrate to el país de los sueños
where there are riquezas and metas
and we’ll work fuerte
Let us travel a pie way
To cumplir nuestros dreams
Let us dream con feet on the ground.

I search the river bed
Feeling for stones
Using only my toes
Pick them up with these hands
Carry them with me
A punishment,
For grief
That knows nothing
Recognizes nothing
Claims nothing
Is mute
I am unmade, uncreatured,
A dull stone.

Up from the south in the Great Migration,
Ruth’s grandma told her to obey me ’cause I was white.
You don’t have to do that, I laughed. Yes I do, Ruth said,
so I told her, Jump out the window.
If you were really my friend, Ruth said,
You wouldn’t ask.

She can’t know I’m the daughter
of the son left behind in Sicilian hills,
how, for his passage, my grandmother
repaid the loan shark with piecework,
thousands of miniature buttonholes, lace
like snow, sewn on baby clothes.

Once upon a time
your finger lingered in the stream with mine.
And that disturbance of the water
changed everything.
You are vivid again.
This is that petal
Yeats wrote about
That hit the ground
and broke the silence.

we make excuses
for thresholds, borders
far from what you know
look across a body
of windswept water
that speaks Home
as it smooths itself over
in becoming reflection


I sip green cream of turtle bisque
para mia comida in Arequipa, Peru.
limy ceviche “blues” play,
Pecan flan follows earthquake shakes
for dessert.
There is a Mestiza goddess
tapping castanets
on volcano El Misti
to the rhythm of change.

Propelled by love
Fueled by hope
I traveled north
Away from the land of eternal spring
Over the red clay that bleed in the river
Like the political corruption that stained my streets
To polar nights and icebergs
Into the warmth of your eyes

When your words traced the trail of my migration
It was beautiful ones that, the gruesome chain, have broken.
Up-rooted, exiled…I still travel the rich vocabulary
Of your migrant dictionary
Until they bring your word to my itinerary.

floating thru barn yardage
watering flowerful prosthetic windows
—the banter right to
working rainbow coalescing
shhh don’t tell yell

floured hair doughed hands pat
kids flowerful grand fertile prolifetic

I feel my heart traveling with the geese
Bringing me to a safe, warm place.
My soul rides on their backs,
Migrating hundreds of miles to safety
Where it can bask in warmth
Until spring’s thawing touch returns next year.

From Cape Horn to Nepal
We must push to our call
So we never lose hope
To reach, to reach, is what all must do.
From the Romans to the Turks
The inevitable darkness lurks
No matter the story
To fall, to fall, is what all must do.

Norms are shifting,
quo not so gifting,
ones who stay same,
counted as lame.

Keepin’ with times,
chillin’ with rhymes,
accepting all kinds,
and breaking the binds.

Everyone has a dream, A heart’s wish of moving on, dreams of finding their existence in the world.

We are all migrants in some way. Whether we go from country to country or just migrating through the different stages in our life.
Seeking a new land to step onto.
Or just growing up to become an adult or trying to find our place in the world.

I, Too, America

Mother sold her gold
All but her chain
A noose around my neck

Father leased the land
The tickets cost seven seas
My blanket is stitched with his check

In 36 hours, on the field of dreams
I have wings for feet
No, they can never break

I start in a small world in Eastern Mass
I muster up courage to leave my world
I travel across a huge sea of land
I go day by day, never rushing
I am alone but meet many people
I muster up courage to return to my world
I go home to my world in Eastern Mass

They say the destination does not matter/
Only the journey counts/
But meeting you was my ending/
And to me, that counts the most/

Mary of the Sea

 Came here in a boat,
her head lay against a bulkhead for a pillow.

 I couldn’t find her gravestone
or her trail.

 Like a fish
I took the bait,

 the barbed hook inside my cheek.
led me back from where I came,

 still won’t let me go.

Somos todos migrantes:
whether we came here thirsty on foot or horseback,
by lace-curtained train, carbon-spewing plane or car,
or underneath a truck to avoid detection,
this central garden beckoned us,
migrants driven by fated love.

Immigration asked,
“When was your daughter born?”
Mother replied honestly,
“A day in September,
we dug potatoes then.”

Birthdays did not matter to her.
What mattered was desperation
and hard work to come in the fields.
Once again.

Leaving the familiar
Destined for the new,
the unexplored,
the foreign.

Alone and afraid
Searching for comfort
to fit in
to belong

The new becomes the regular
The fear is gone
Accustomed to the new
The old is forgotten.

Distant sorrows travel so closely behind me
Often guiding me to see what others cannot see
As you stand beside me
I feel a peculiar feeling of uncertainty
You are my history
My intuition
Moving me
By never allowing me to forget

his eyes,
shut tightly,
like oysters
open in a flash:
South Sea
refracting all color
to the world

Another set of transfer orders and we were off, starting over, and over again, piling into the station wagon to yet another Navy town, always packing that promise of reinvention, this time for sure.


Washing the earth from you
We give you back to the earth

With water
With cool woven cloth
With embraces

With a song
That the soul in us
Is a pure one

With hands
Our hands

We give you back to the earth

Where you will be now
Where you will not be

I take a step

A new place

I try something new

I see a friend

It all seems so fresh

I love it everywhere.


It tickles
and it’s quicker than I thought

Looks like it’s coming from over there
but from way way way over there too

Well, we’re in it now

Seems we have to move with it to move forward
this stream
in the trail
on this journey
to our Dream

Moved south to ranch in the San Luis Valley.
Finding good neighbors in old Spanish families
Mormons and Murphys, Utes and Apaches.
Five lifetimes later, his kin—still good neighbors.

Walking through the land of the natives, where you come through many obstacles, where the land of the free brings new and better opportunities, the long trail of places where you’ll make memories, the land of the free

my journey is beginning
things are blurry
but moving along inch by inch
All day I dream of foreign lands
there is fear and anxiety
but curiosity has set fire to my soul

Pain shoots through my feet
Traveling up my spine
Up ahead I see the road I walk
When I look behind me
All I see is the past
And I know
It’s time to move on.

I opened my eyes and I saw it;
I opened my ears and I heard it;
I opened my hand and I touched it;
I opened my mouth and I spoke it,
it is a beautiful world.
I opened my mind and I knew it
was full of beautiful people and
I’m alive and
that’s beautiful.

Friends always come in and out of your life
Friends come from many different places
Friends are made up from many different faces
They enter your life by surprise
Then the winds of change sweeps them away again
But the best of friends stay

Once I was asked
To sit next to a Bosnian refugee at church

I enjoy sitting next to new folk at church
But why I was asked specifically
I do not know

What I do know
Is he knew no English
I no Bosnian

But we both knew enough German
To love the hymns by Luther

An ancient katsura tree lovingly enfolds generations of Philadelphians who entrusted their secrets to its graceful branches, here in this garden of peace, of tranquility, of growth. Can you see us, present in its shady depths?

I want you to tell
Me how the world
Is full of light
And we can watch
The show if we want
I want you to say
Today we can live
Without having a
Single line of defense
We can live like
Our rib cage was cracked
Open and our honest
Hearts bled through

When I was six months old my mom and I
took the great trail in the sky
leaving her homeland of Germany
traversing the Atlantic Ocean
to start a brand new life
in this country called America
with my father, a soldier,
from a small Texas town

I know the surrounding woods like a lifelong friend, the squawking birds and wind rushing through the trees.
The bright leaves that litter the trail.
I start out on the trail, riding hard.
Hammering the pedals hard. Biking is Love.
Just ride

Saying goodbye was easy
I’ve done it many times before
what’s harder are the hellos
every new face, new name
so much to remember
so much to remember
carrying the past
into this new place
exhausted, sleep comes with
so much to remember

Cranky old windmill,
sentinel of the prairie—
beat pilgrims welcome.

No hay nada más bello en el mundo
que dejar al espacio sideral, frío y vacío,
y viajar a una galaxia nueva
en donde habitan los planetas
y se reposa la cabeza sobre un lecho de estrellas

Whitewashed Cara de Nopal
Con raíces lejos de sus manos
Con tradiciones lejos de sus pies
Y valores lejos de su mente

Aquí dicen que es de allá
Allá dicen que es de aquí

Algo confuso, cierto
Pero como muchos
Comparte un American Dream

Migrants: Portraits and Friendships

find a trail and maybe a new dream
it may not be as impossible as it may seem
where there’s a will there’s a way, keep in mind
that next step is possible, then you may find
what you find along the way, yours hey

First peoples, first migrants:
north through Africa, then Europe,
east through Asia, the Americas;
meeting, merging, moving.
We all migrate, evolve,
our world then changed, transformed.
A Portage west to L.A.
let my life flow, reborn.

A field of immigrants
Under an unforgiving sun
Rows upon never-ending hills of green grape vines
Roadside signs lounging on parked vans
Calling for fresh strawberries and bright red cherries

With the weight of being stretched 3,000 miles apart
And only the promise of an uncertain future
Here I found beauty and wild ambitions
A restless itch for truth and wonder
Long sleepy night drives back
And a long, long road.

They say there are no paths, that
one makes them as they walk.
But in the brush there is a shoe.
A flashlight.
A one-eyed doll.
A wedding band.
A baby’s sock.
A map with an X.
Caminante, these are signs of struggle.
Others have been here before.

The place we exist is ever-changing, ever-evolving, yet one thing is always the same

We still fear the dark, we still fear what stalks in the night

From the beginning of time to the end of the world, we fear it

And it’ll persist to consume us all

La Tierra Bendita

  Mother Earth-
Father Sky,
In Your Family.

   Haz la noche,
noche y el día, día.

   As I walk the trails of la loma.
I listen,
To the song of mi ‘manita,
La Paloma.

L’Agua es Vida,
Let’s Share It.

Lily Dale sunset
the lake’s reflection mirrored
in past and present

through the gazebo
the sunlight shatters
blinding memories

our last day together

traveling through
this new land without you—
my permanent home

I watch for the monochrome days. When the snakes have turned into wooden vines, and even the brightly colored leaves are brown. There is frost in the dew, on the cold morning when the rain starts to fall. These are the days when I cry for you.

Our family celebrated Thanksgiving
Sons, daughters, spouses, their parents, grandchildren
We represented several races
We had Thai, Filipino, Black, Puerto Rican, European, and Palestinian.
Immigrants all follow the Pilgrims Way

Two roads diverged in a wood.
Neither more travelled than the next.
I lay myself before them.
Let my tears soak the ground.
How was I to choose
If I didn’t know the end?
The wind whispered and
Held my hand.
Pointed to where I came.
Led me home.

Shod or bare,
these feet walk
on dusty roads,
each step trod by all,
time before,
time to come.
I look for new
clean ground.
The road says
“Not yet, mi peregrina.
Walk further.”

Spokes of spinning souls
Brushing earth, impelling sky
Two feet carry me

My grandma and grandpa sailed from Russia, a land far across the sea, the others came from Germany, I am thankful they chose to come to America, the land of the free, and thus I was born here—Lucky lucky me!

Throughout my travels,
my story unravels,
a story to be told for years to come.
For I am searching for purity, for grace of heart and maturity.
Though the search will be hard,
with no breaks for those beaten and scarred,
perhaps we will find it.

Where I’m from
I love falling asleep listening to the trains build freight off in the distance, and hearing the coyotes howl. As you feel the chilly winter frost you finally feel at home.

Many friends are made
It’s snowing on mount Fuji
Cold weather awaits

Issues are bloodhounds:
They pursue while we run.
Is escape like looking for the night?
Is it like catching her; binding her?
Why do we deserve to persevere
When the others have died?
Skeletons are caked with dust
In the unforgiving desert.

Everywhere is my home,
Wanderlust is described in the dictionary as “The desire to go everywhere all at once.”
and everywhere is where I will go.
there is my home.
a place that I cannot return to, not now.
I have to see everywhere first.
I fly.

They arrive at the wake as they did in the harbor. Unsure, alone. In blackened veils they mourn the lost soul. Arrive strangers, grieve together as Irish women, depart as friends. Saturday night out with Grandma and her immigrant friends.

I went North,
My thoughts and fears cascading out of the window of a
Commercial plane.
The lost boy tumbled from his seat, through the cargo hold,
And down into the sky, as the eternal friend
Of the itinerant wind.

You and I
Are not so far away, you see.
How do you measure distance
When miles are meaningless?
You and I
Are not so different, you see.
How do you value communication
When languages do not tell a story?
Why should we lose,
What makes me and you?

At Sylvan’s Foremost Bookstore
in Southwest Ontario
Bob moves boxes to make an
aisle. He says it’s a town
that never happened,
the bookstore is the town.
He’s our kind of guy
in our kind of town-
another new friend
made on the road.

I went on a journey
It was very long
I had to keep strong.
I met some good friends
they were very nice
we played some game of dice.
I met some others
they were awfully rude
the were some mean dudes.
I met one more person
he was very old
he was friendly.

The mortar and pestle my great grandparents carried with them
reminds me that what grinds and crushes
can be used to nourish, make medicine.
Hugh Masekela plays on the radio:
The ancestors rejoice when you sing for them.

Trails woven from tears
From the eyes of mother to child
Separated over oceans
But these pathways reconnect
What history couldn’t

Behind the grey doorway of my everyday,
Faint footfalls on highways of others journeys—
When I traveled, I wandered not far from home.
The part of me that met all of you stumbled out that gate,
now darting out, now running in place.

People make friends
They discover new
Ways of traveling
To find them
By their heart
They trust their
Heart to lead
Them to the
True new friends
Never doubt your
Heart always
Follow it people
Need to know
Your heart is
Pure follow
It till the end

It’s a dusty road. I’m lost. Nowhere to go, and nowhere to hide. New faces everywhere. What happened to me, I don’t remember anything. Someone says hi. Do I know you? They look confused, like I’m acting different. So I ask, Can you help me?

Voy a los Estados Unidos de América
En busca de una vida nueva
En mi trayecto veo cosas nuevas
pájaros, árboles, y personas diferentes
Estoy feliz porque puedo explorar un mundo nuevo

El migrante no tiene ayuda alguna cuando va a los Estados Unidos.  
Busca un futuro nuevo en los Estados Unidos.
Vivía mucho antes en Polonia.

Vengo de una tierra lejana.
Emigré a los Estados Unidos ya que tiene muchas oportunidades.
Es un lugar diferente pero muy interesante.
Ahora vivo en Nueva York, una ciudad con muchas luces y colores bonitos,  
Un lugar con muchas oportunidades y luces brillantes.

Mi bisabuela es de Italia
Ella vino a los Estados Unidos a  buscar una vida mejor
Hay muchas oportunidades aquí
Mi bisabuela no habla mucho inglés pero es una gran aventurera

Viajo a Nueva York
El viaje es emocionante
Busca una carrera
Espera encontrar un buen trabajo
Ve un  futuro brillante
Habla con una persona que lo ayuda
Camina a Madison Square Garden y su carrera comienza
Es un jugador profesional de hockey

Soy Ucraniano. Mis abuelos son de Polonia. Ellos van a los Estados Unidos por libertad y oportunidades. Mis abuelos están contentos.

El migrante se llama Frank, es de Portugal. Frank va a  los Estados Unidos en busca de más  oportunidades, de un trabajo, de dinero. América es exquisitamente hermosa, es un lugar repleto de oportunidades. Frank es feliz en los Estados Unidos.


Mi padre migró con mi abuelo del Reino Unido a los Estados Unidos de  América, cuando tenía nueve años. Mi abuelo lo trajo a trabajar. Son muy felices.

M-Mi abuelo
R- Run
A- Ajetreado
N- Necesita agua
T- Trabajar
E- El viaje

María está muy contenta
Ella no es aburrida, es impresionante