For the Roots issue of Collide we asked APU students to submit poetry responding to the theme, here are the submissions.

 

Ellen Beard 

Homeless Until (найду родину в Тебе)*

I say that home is where my house is
Afar, deceased, in suitcases confined
I slowly unpack, but leave my heart back
In cozy clinging cobwebs of dear grief
The pressure of unspoken words builds up
And bulges bloat behind that dam luggage.

Oh where on earth can my heart be?
Thus shattered, scattered out across the seas
Shaved pieces, keepsakes for my sojourners
Ripped root tips left abandoned far behind
In garden soils of мои  родины**
Forever nagging grief, my sole vestige.

Oh where on earth can my heart be?
Bits wander with a thousand treasured loves.
Is there a morsel of it more to give?
Thus empty handed am I doomed to have
My only home, collected memories
I carry in the shell upon my back?

But life’s and beauty’s Holy Author,
Your infinite love formed my frail heart
Though I’ve indeed lost many houses
I’ve found exactly where my house is:
Where I dwell in Your presence now complete
With hope to settle permanently there.

*   naidu rodinu v Tebye – I can find my homeland in You
** moyi  rodiniy – my birth places; my homelands; my homes

Jasmine Kolano
Sickness:  A Happy Thing
“this is who I am”
i said
when the sun was shining
when my shoes were clean
when friends were fine
and my figure lean.
everyone nodded.
“nice.”
i was happy. very happy with that. i laughed loudly with them.
then one day
the weather changed.
it was sweater weather
but not because it was cold
but because a virus was mean.
it was cruel
and it attacked the very thing that was my identity:
my voice.
“you’ve changed. this is not who you are.”
that hurt.
i screamed to them, “but i have no choice!”
but of course, i could only say it in my head.
God, who am I now? 
He said
“Be still and know that I am God.”
What?
“When you know who I am, then you know who You are.
I am Love and I am Good. I am with you always.
You will change, but I won’t.
I will always be Good, I will always love you, and I will always be with you.”
i cried.
i was very happy. very joyful. very encouraged.
i am well now.
everyone is happy i am “back to the old me.”
but what i don’t tell them is that i’ve changed.
i’ve changed because i have realized
that being stripped bare
of everything
is when i’ve been able to see the real me.
and the real them.
and the real God.

 

 Ray Evangelista

In bocca al lupo

“Now I know why tigers eat their young.”

—Al “Scarface” Capone

A glass of wine, red like the blood

That sluggishly bathes this saint.

God rest his soul, but let his ringer burn

Like my sinner’s soul, ‘cause when I die,

Tell my folks I ain’t comin’ home.

Heaven ain’t no place for angels with dirty faces.

 

I almost forgot my mother’s face.

She and I once shared the same blood

Wasting away together in the same home,

But God bless her, she was a saint.

I hope I ain’t there to watch her die,

But sure as Hell, she ain’t goin’ there to burn.

 

If she could see Saint Valentine burn,

With our blood on his melting cardboard face,

She’d wonder why he deserved to die,

Face reflected in a pool of his own blood,

For the “monstrous crime” of bein’ a saint.

At least when he died, he knew he was comin’ home.

 

The needle staked in my finger reminds me of home:

Ma sewing jeans and letting the chicken burn,

Praying for favors from a dead, silent saint,

The right hook to that pompous broad’s face

That got me expelled. It’s all in my blood,

Like this steel thorn: part of me, until I die.

But from this cursed day on, I live and die

By the gun and knife. My new home

Is in these cragged faces and the bonds of blood

Mixed on the surface of the card that burns

Slowly until the flame devours the face

Of the helpless, stagnant, fish-eyed saint.

 

Now, believe me, I ain’t no saint,

But if God told me I was gonna die

Today, I’d wanna feel the warmth of home

In the morning breeze upon my face

Before it’s finally my turn to burn,

Away from the kin that lent me their blood.

 

As the saint lies, smeared with blood,

I see my budding face in the bridges I burn.

Some people die before they can go home.


 

 

From Anonymous

 

In Everything
 
I see you in everything.
In the cool glass of a sweet peach tea.
In the warm rocks of a beige driveway.
In the smiles of a familiar stranger.
In the smudged glass of a frequently used desk.
In the smooth texture of a cloth key chain.
In the wobble of a recently fixed chair.
In every note of every melody.
In every pixel of every screen.
In every page of every book.
In everything.
I live in a state of Déjà vu.
I will never stop seeing you.
I see you in everything.

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