My first poetry reading, ever. I've written a lot, but never read until a few nights ago.
Here's the poem I read at Avant Garden
To the people who ask me where I'm from:
I answer: "I'm from North Dakota."
We begin to talk; you start to pry
Maybe you think it's humdrum, or maybe it's that I cannot lie.
Somehow you get it out of me that I'm not just from North Dakota
I wish I would tell you not one more iota.
Instead the words that are released:
"I'm from the Middle-East."
"Where from in the Middle-East?" you say, like it's prolific.
I was specifically unspecific! How could you ask it anyway?
That's all I do.
About the morals I was raised with
And my own decorum, averse to this newly opened forum.
"I'm from Syria," I answer like I have a cancer.
I think the questioning's done, the prying over.
Then I see your face a giant question.
Please, please, I think, don't make this transgression.
"Do you have family over there?" you ask, completely unaware.
My mouth fills up with everything I want to say:
Who are you to ask me such a loaded question?
How dare you so casually ruin my good day?
Weren't you informed of the news?
Haven't you heard the terrorist's progression?
Did you realize this a sensitive subject?
Asking to think of my childhood desecrated?
Perhaps there's internet in the camps for the defect?
You assume I am an orphan -
Not worrying if family's been mutilated?
Maybe you think: everyone's happy and OK?
That my schoolyard friends are all healthy and alive?
That their jobs and country are not in disarray?
Do you expect this'll make us friends?
Because, I promise you this companionship won't survive.
HOW. DARE. YOU...
Is all I do.
My family raised me better than that; my shoulders fall flat.
When the words finally tumble out, my voice real low
I answer: "I do not know."
Because I was not brought up to lie, or be an intolerant vulture.
No, not in either culture.
So, to the people who are being chum,
Asking me where I'm from:
Just accept that I'm from Fucking North Dakota.