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In our Poem Suites, we publish work by beginning and emerging witers, gathered according to theme. In this Suite, we feature three poets exploring various meanings of home.
Australian Love Story
by Noushin Arefadib
There was a time when I was unsure to call you home.
You were foreign; you spoke through your nose and mistook a sandwich for a meal.
I was younger, an outsider, a misfit.
Not entirely brown, not exactly white.
I sounded different, spoke with a twang.
Too shy to play your games, my feet felt unfamiliar against your sand.
Over the years, enchanted and embraced by your streets, your wild yellow sun, and your wilderness, I found you in my definition of home.
Your sun kissed me softly on each cheek and left me with glorious freckles I fell in love with.
Others who were also once immigrant misfits became my friends, my slumber parties, my cross your heart and hope to die, my handmade family.
Over the years I walked along your foreshore.
Your river welcomed me as she washed up against rocks I had counted
and jellyfish that I told myself danced only for me.
Your ocean became my ocean and she swept me off my feet.
It was a love affair painted with longings of blue when you met this girl from the East.
You are home, you are warmth, you are joy. You shall forever remain my point of each return.
by Allison Stroud Magnus
You live in Chicago,
a house on 92th street–
a 1930’s English castle complete
with turret sedately
tacked to the left side
and viney brick walls
to break the stench of traffic.
Your room is pale, pleated with
books and Nutcracker posters,
and another poster
of a pink cloven pair
of toe points thrusts downward
above your bed, large enough
you are able to see
the tendons strain just so
slightly beneath the
milky film of stockings
each time you open your door.
. You are twelve.
What people never
notice is how
quickly dirt comes
dancing from the soles
across the toes
after a first hour
in a new pair of points,
or the way your sweat
smells different, is beginning
to eat out the inner lining at
the crotch of your leotard,
bore holes like acid in the arm pits.
The little girls in your classes
all speak even now
with hands crooked backwards
as if dangling
a flapper’s cigarette holder,
as if dropping back
into the lightly cupped hands
of the visiting master
who tells you to arch
your back just so,
elongate your leg like this, as he
skims his hand down the pointed
ridge of muscle until it seems
like a dragon fly’s wings
quivering inside you, like rainbows
on puddles of industrial waste,
until your toes curl so tightly
that you feel they must break.
This Woman Kisses
by Jessica McWhirt
You always saw things bigger than I did,
like the hill in Howth you called a mountain
after the ten minute hike to the top.
You grabbed my hand as we stood
like we were back in middle school:
shaky, sweaty palms, cold fingers.
You took me under the canopy
of folding branches
like we were back in the Secret Garden.
You thought it was romantic,
that we could hold each other
beneath this green, leafy umbrella.
I kept watch for someone lurking
behind the trees.
Our first kiss was right outside
my bathroom, you leaving the seat up, no less.
You thought yourself charming
as you leaned through the crack in the door,
holding my cheek in your hand,
pulling me in and kissing me.
I was waiting for that kiss too,
but I also had to pee.
This kiss was better than
the ones I had with my boyfriend back home.
Your tongue played with my tongue –
it didn’t try to wrestle it, or pin it down,
or make it beg for mercy. It was good.
Soothing; like the itch in the middle of your back
you can’t reach, but a friend can,
and when they scratch your back,
the rest of your body tingles in relief.
You always saw things bigger than I did.
When we slipped under the sheets
I called it ‘sex’
and you called it ‘making love.’
You said it was ‘amazing’
and I thought it was ‘good.’
You didn’t care that you had a long day
but I was concerned about
waking up in two hours.
You wouldn’t leave that night.
I think that’s when you knew
you loved me,
and you knew I was leaving in three days,
after spending four weeks together.
You hugged your body around
mine as if trying to memorize
the curves of my ribs;
where the colors of my tattoos
fused with my skin,
and all I wanted to do was sleep.
Noushin Arefadib is an Iranian born Australian, currently residing in New Delhi, India. Noushin is a passionate human rights activist and writes as a way of expressing her thoughts and feelings toward personal and social issues.
Allison Stroud has Masters in Creative Writing though Southern illinois University at Edwardsville, and teaches College Literature courses through Kaskaskia College. She is married with one daughter. She loves poetry, photography, rides dressage and does volunteer work for a Siberian Husky Rescue League. She has just begun pursuing publication of her poetry this year.
Jessica McWhirt is a Colorado native. She has a degree in Political Science and English from Metropolitan State University of Denver. She drinks cider. She hums when there’s a lull in the conversation. She sings in the shower and would eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if she could. Jessica writes articles for College Femme. Recent poems can be found in The Battered Suitcase, Bolts of Silk, The Fbomb, Breadcrumb Scabs, a short story in Pens on Fire, and a political essay in e-International Relations.