Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye Poems

If you place a fern
under a stone
the next day it will be
nearly invisible


"A true Arab knows how to catch a fly in his hands,"
my father would say. And he'd prove it,
cupping the buzzer instantly
while the host with the swatter stared.

For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car

Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,

A man leaves the world
and the streets he lived on
grow a little shorter.

You can't be, says a Palestinian Christian
on the first feast day after Ramadan.
So, half-and-half and half-and-half.
He sells glass. He knows about broken bits,

When they say Don't I know you?
say no.

A small striped sleeve in her lap,
navy and white,
needles carefully whipping in yarn
from two sides.

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,


The river is famous to the fish.
The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

On an island the soft hue of memory,
moss green, kerosene yellow, drifting, mingling
in the Caribbean Sea,
a six-year-old named Alfred

There was the method of kneeling,
a fine method, if you lived in a country
where stones were smooth.

We made it from the ground-up corn in the old back pasture.
Pinched a scent of night jasmine billowing off the fence,
popped it right in.
That frog song wanting nothing but echo?

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn't catch up to him,

Every few minutes, he wants
to march the trail of flattened rye grass
back to the house of muttering
hens. He too could make

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.


Some nights
the rat with pointed teeth
makes his long way back
to the bowl of peaches.

What can a yellow glove mean in a world of motorcars and governments?
I was small, like everyone. Life was a string of precautions: Don’t kiss the squirrel before you bury him, don’t suck candy, pop balloons, drop watermelons, watch TV.

My brother, in his small white bed,
held one end.
I tugged the other
to signal I was still awake.

Tiny keyboard bearing the massive reverie of the past—
press one button, we're carried away on a country road,
marching with saints, leaving the Red River Valley...

Naomi Shihab Nye Biography

a poet, songwriter, and novelist. She was born to a Palestinian father and American mother. Although she regards herself as a "wandering poet", she refers to San Antonio as her home. Career Her first collection of poems, Different Ways to Pray, explored the theme of similarities and differences between cultures, which would become one of her lifelong areas of focus. Her other books include poetry collections 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, A Maze Me, Red Suitcase, Field Trip and Fuel; a collection of essays entitled Never in a Hurry; a young-adult novel called Habibi (the semi-autobiographical story of an Arab-American teenager who moves to Jerusalem in the 1990s) and picture book Lullaby Raft, which is also the title of one of her two albums of music. (The other is called Rutabaga-Roo; both were limited-edition.) Nye has edited many anthologies of poems, for audiences both young and old. One of the best-known is This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from around the World, which contains translated work by 129 poets from 69 different countries. Her most recent anthology is called Is This Forever, Or What?: Poems & Paintings from Texas. She has won many awards and fellowships, among them four Pushcart Prizes, the Jane Addams Children's Book award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, and many notable book and best book citations from the American Library Association, and a 2000 Witter Bynner Fellowship. In June 2009, Nye was named as one of's first peace heroes. Personal Life Nye graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and still resides in that city. She and her photographer husband, Michael Nye, have one son, Madison. Nye's father, Aziz Shihab, wrote books such as A Taste of Palestine: Menus and Memories. Early Life At the age of six, Nye began writing poems as soon as she learned how to write. She was influenced by her mother who read to her all the time. At first her early works were based on childish things such as cats, squirrels, friends, teachers, etc. It wasn't until she was fourteen that she visited her Palestinian grandmother; this would eventually become part of the messages in her many collections of poetry. Her book "Fuel" is an example. Some of her earlier works were published in Seventeen, Modern Poetry Studies, and Ironwood.)

The Best Poem Of Naomi Shihab Nye


If you place a fern
under a stone
the next day it will be
nearly invisible
as if the stone has
swallowed it.

If you tuck the name of a loved one
under your tongue too long
without speaking it
it becomes blood
the little sucked-in breath of air
hiding everywhere
beneath your words.

No one sees
the fuel that feeds you.

Submitted by R. Joyce Heon

Naomi Shihab Nye Comments

Tzur Beni 12 April 2016

Being a Poet should start with a wider look on situations and politics.Getting impression of the Palestinian without seeing the evil which is done by their leaders - not to solving but freezing the problem. The leaders are sacrificing their nation and encourage them to Bomb themselves on civilian in the name of ALLA . A Poet should encourage to change the attitude. To send voice of piece. To ask for leaders to solve the problem and invest in their nation. A real Poet should write Poem so Syrian not to kill their own people. A Poet who taking and manipulating words while staying in luxury USA is not a real Poet. I feel you try bring silence to your soul and your family immigration tries to cover it by words empty words lies and evil words. Which is not true. But it is worse than the leaders as it encourage to keep it in the name of the Poet. Take your ability to the sky and try to hold the terror of a nation which suffer but cause suffer to the world.

12 25 Reply
Pamela Leonard 18 March 2018

Your poems touch our hearts and we carry that essence with us onward...

9 4 Reply
Grace 24 October 2018

Kindness is the poem's name. Thank you fellow lover's of her work.

9 3 Reply
Mahtab Bangalee 19 February 2019

Naomi Shihab a poetess a living legend

10 0 Reply
Grace 24 October 2018

Kindness is the poem's name. Thank you so much

7 3 Reply
me poet yeps poet 29 November 2022

Such deep truth covered with nectar of literature comes fiirst always Call you loved one by name once a day thanks

0 0 Reply
Kumarmani Mahakul 25 October 2020

Naomi Shihab Nye is an outstanding novelist, poet and songwriter, who has owned the hearts of many persons in this world. She is regarded as a nice legendary poetess of modern poems in this world. She is very famous. Her poems are much beneficial for all people. She reflects deep emotion and perception in her poems. Her rank is #145 on top 500 poets on date 25 October 2020.

1 0 Reply
Jessica 18 May 2020

I absolutely adore your poem i just wanted to say thanks for it all

0 0 Reply
yeznik elgof 05 December 2019

I cant find the poem alphabet.does it exist?

3 0 Reply
Giavana 18 November 2019

can u make a poem of sneezing oh and how do u sneeze lol

1 5 Reply

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