Blood Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye


Rating: 3.9

"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.

In the spring our palms peeled like snakes.
True Arabs believed watermelon could heal fifty ways.
I changed these to fit the occasion.

Years before, a girl knocked,
wanted to see the Arab.
I said we didn't have one.
After that, my father told me who he was,
"Shihab"--"shooting star"--
a good name, borrowed from the sky.
Once I said, "When we die, we give it back?"
He said that's what a true Arab would say.

Today the headlines clot in my blood.
A little Palestinian dangles a truck on the front page.
Homeless fig, this tragedy with a terrible root
is too big for us. What flag can we wave?
I wave the flag of stone and seed,
table mat stitched in blue.

I call my father, we talk around the news.
It is too much for him,
neither of his two languages can reach it.
I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,
to plead with the air:
Who calls anyone civilized?
Where can the crying heart graze?
What does a true Arab do now?

Angeli Amparo 01 December 2006

Nice one Naomi, But i'm just curious what do arab means?

13 12 Reply
Myrna Martinez 19 May 2010

That is beautiful, the way she writes is so simple as complicated at the same time, i'm glad i found her poems.

14 9 Reply
Remi Kanazi 13 June 2005

Beautfiul Poem, Remi

12 9 Reply
Nick Smithe 24 January 2005

Your poem gave me chills, is was Awesome! Loved it Nick Z~

14 6 Reply
Susan Williams 31 December 2015

Heart-felt emotions here. I wish the questions she raises would be answered but so far every generation and every race has the same questions and the same silence for an answer

19 0 Reply

Congratulations on your poem selection as Poem of the Day

0 0 Reply
Chinedu Dike 20 May 2022

An insightful piece of poetry written with conviction. Congrats on your poem's selection as modern POD.

0 1 Reply

A very forceful writing on ethnicity, refugees, insecurity, apathy of the society… profound

0 0 Reply
Mike Kukubird 13 April 2020

is this so cringe XD idk what this ching chong is talking abt the poet prolly high af

0 2 Reply
Tuwa Noor 21 March 2020

So beautifully narrated. it touched heart.

0 0 Reply
Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye

St. Louis, Missouri
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