Let us have the same dream tonight

If you love this gorgeous poem by the Somali-American writer Ladan Osman as much as I do, find yourself a copy of her hair-raising 2014 poetry collection, The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimonyand be ready for your head–and your heart–to be captivated with every turn of the page.

Photo Credit: zakkiyyah najeebah

“For the Woman Whose Love Is a Bird of Passage”

I am so poor before you. A grackle
whose colors are as good as a peacock’s,
sometimes better in the full face of sun.
The love poem I meant to say

is lost. Instead, I swear an oath.
I curse like someone speaking
in a foreign language. Instead of leave

I say scourge. The proper word a chick’s voice
still in its egg, a beak in a small crack.

Your blood is hot and flowing,
and the hinges of your heart’s valves
allow traffic in all your heart’s rooms.
Is that why the little kisses are not enough?

In your sigh there is the sound of water pouring
into a hot, empty kettle.

Let us have the same dream tonight, I say
and your smile is red glass in dim light.

I dream my front tooth is a crumbling pillar
and you are the entire city of sin, in collapse.
Instead of leave, you say raze. You are so poor
before me.

So let us paint the ocean instead.

We dip the brushes in a canvas that takes them
out of our hands. Now you are the grackle’s tail
calling for eyes from the side of a road,
and I am the best room in your heart.


a rock down the narrow well of the throat

Plumb the depths of language with the Somali-American poet Ladan Osman.

Photo Credit: zakkiyyah najeebah 

“Words We Lost in the Water”

If Somali hail fell from the sky, it would be cardamom.
Sidewalks would release its scent under our heels, we would fill
burlap bags with it, odd grains of rice mingling in our tea.

There my father is the Lion of God
and not a man who talks about position,
not a man who remembers position.

There, lips smile for love
and hope sounds like the English need:
don’t piss on my need, we say.

Trouble falls, a rock
down the narrow well of the throat.

Chest and bullet are twins
separated by a handsome jaw, a beauty mark.

There my brother is Victorious
and not the odd grain in the sieve of my father’s heart.