I Cry for his Loss

i cry for the card, for his loss,
 for his Iraqi-Syrian past,
 for all the burning hours of summer school
 where he committed himself
 to finishing high school in three years.
 i cry for his words, for his loss,
 his inescapable self that has hidden
 a kind face in a chaotic classroom,
 his sly smile catching my every
 snuck-in witty remark
 (even when no one else could).
 i cry for the system, for his loss,
 shuffled by our government’s wars
 between homelands that stole his home,
 for his pride in Iraqi architecture
 that he may never see again.
 i cry for his future, for his loss,
 for how unequivocally kind his soul remains
 after all he has witnessed in twenty-one years,
 for his brothers who wait under his watchful shadow,
 for our country to give him a chance.
 i cry for his words, for my loss,
 to not have his presence in my classroom,
 to have the nicest thing anyone’s
 ever written to me
 disappear with a graduation ceremony.
 i cry for the world, for their loss,
 for robbing refugees of their rights,
 for keeping the beauty that is him,
 that is within all of them,
 from sharing their strength
 with all of us, inshallah,
 for a brighter tomorrow.

Ode to Mixer

i waited four years
 to have my Kitchenaid back
 too bad you’re broken
 this last, lost moment
 before i burnt the cookies
 will be remembered
 goodbye, my mixer,
 my flourless-chocolate King,
 my sweet-tooth master
 i’ve missed your batches,
 your easy whipping of eggs,
 your strength to knead bread.
 but i let you live
 in the cold hands of strangers
 who kneaded your death
 alas, we all die
 and it’s time for us to part
 forever now, love
 may you rest in peace
 while i strengthen my right arm
 while mixing by hand

Neither Here Nor There

rain-forced overtime
 and a club cancellation
 poured on my evening
 frazzled two incomes
 shuffle life like laundry loads:
 nothing’s ever clean
 quick pasta in pan
 (middle one waits for boil)
 i mad-dash the town
 make my appointment
 where my essay’s dissected
 by native speaker
 who can’t tell me why
 subjunctive is needed here
 yet, not here (nor there)
 disgruntled, i sit
 choose the last row, and listen–
 same two birds chirping
 pecking the rest out
 our Spanish words now swallowed
 by extroversion
 and i can’t do it
 i cannot sit in this class
 with my girls at home
 i can’t speak Spanish
 or use subjunctive bullshit
 —just say what it is
 it’s like our lunch talk:
 Midwest culture won’t allow
 taking last cookie
 and if you offer,
 offer three times before, ‘Yes’
 (no cookie for me)
 so i leave the class
 i walk out, i give up, lose
 (win time with my girls
 who ask for reading
 aloud, in poems stories,
 mine and theirs and ours)
 and we read Spain poems
 remember Gaudí’s madness
 in place of our own
 and that’s my Thursday
 just like any other: lost,
 but not forgotten

Cross Country

weekend leftovers
 murmur an early Monday
 in my groaning gut
 technology blues
 plague two classes, one meeting
 forced into nonsense
 data collection
 begins my singular plan
 till phone rings: sick kid
 frazzled packing up
 for a stomach flu faker
 then two extra kids
 but that is not all!
 cross country registration
 at the last moment
 my middle girl runs!
 two days a week, a new plan:
 laps around the park
 (he can cook dinner–
 we’ll eat late like back in Spain,
 shed this U.S. stress)
 and i will run too–
 take tree-lined tech-free views home
 (run free, not ragged)

Day Twenty-Two, Road Trip 2015

two days, three Great Lakes
 city view transfers to beach
 (they’re tired of pics)
 look how amazing!
 i shout to their grumbling
 freshwater ocean!
 reluctance wavers
 as they find rocks and small waves
 accept magnitude
 (this after lunch fight
 refusing peanut butter
 drive-thru battle won)
 Illinois takes us
 twelve hours past the border
 at Wendy’s, give in
 they live for water
 cause it’s all about the pool
 on the long ride home

Day Twenty-One, Road Trip 2015

all ages love boats,
 skyline tower views, no waves,
 island tree climbing
 parks make cities nice
 waterfront, shady, crowd free
 not these skyscrapers
 multicolored ride
 subway, tunnel underground
 (to hide from winter)
 what about fresh air?
 facing the snowy cold day?
 not in Toronto
 for now, sun shines through
 we see commerce’s belly
 windows heaven down
 it’s hard to picture
 winter’s isolating freeze
 (even fruit hides here)
 that’s what it’s like now
 just before our trek back home
 (last time i’ll see her)
 in tunnels, hiding
 just like friendships wax and wane
 waiting to come back