Poem-A-Day: Jenna Le

I was talking to my students this past week about the logical fallacy that is the ad hominem attack, and “stay in your lane” came up. Such nonsense, and ironic at that.

Did you read my post from yesterday? If so, you know why I’m posting this poem today.

To a Physician Killed by Gun Violence

You climbed the stairs to middle age
and just beyond, your footsteps trained
to make no creaking noise, your veined
hand mute upon the balustrade

so that your snoring spouse, his cage
of matted hair propped on a doubled
plinth of pillows, could sleep untroubled,
your daughter with her snaking braid

doze undisturbed when you returned
from work. You wore your own hair short,
like shadow—nothing here to court
notice, to creak or squeak or glint

or gleam. Those seeing you discerned
no youth, no unformed possibility;
they only saw someone who willingly
did the work until she didn’t.

***

Jenna Le is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2018; 1st edition published by Anchor & Plume Press, 2016), which won 2nd Place in the 2017 Elgin Awards. Her poems have also appeared in AGNI Online, Bellevue Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and West Branch.

Poem-A-Day: Saba Husain

I was driving to work when I first heard the news of the Columbine shooting. I was driving to a school where I was going to teach young people how to write poems and tell their stories. I was driving to a place where we never worried about anything more serious during a fire drill than how long we would be standing in the sun before the all-clear. I was driving down a tree-lined Houston street, enjoying the gorgeous weather, listening to the breaking news on the radio of something I could not have fathomed before.

This weekend is the 20th anniversary of that heinous tragedy, one which for many Americans was the first of its horrible kind, the hallmark of a wretched new reality. If I had a time-turner, oh the things I would change.

Like Homemade

One boy said it was like
cotton candy  
.                           moist bits
.                           on face and arms
warm batter
.                       splattered on walls
smudged notebooks
splayed in the halls
                  From under the desk
the ceiling appeared
.                                muffin-pocked
the air hard
like taffy at the point of no return
.                           crackling caramel
the light
of a hundred-thousand suns
piercing the classroom window
.                           maple sugar
when it burns

***

Saba Husain is a poet from Houston. She has published poems in Cimarron Review, Barrow Street, Natural Bridge, The Texas Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Vol VIII: Texas, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Anklebiter’s Press: Kill Line, Mutabilis Press: The Enchantment of the Ordinary, and Jaggery Lit. She was a finalist for the 2014 New Letters Poetry Prize and received the Lorene Pouncey Memorial Award at Houston Poetry Fest. Saba went back to school to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing at University of Houston, after her three girls had completed their undergraduate education. She grew up in Karachi, Pakistan.