Patricia Horn O'Brien

Because we come from everything

March 12, 2017


This month, poetry organizations across the country are collaborating on the initiative Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration. We invite you to join us by sharing these poems about migration, and helping to spread the word with: #WeComeFromEverything


Peace Path” by Heid E. Erdrich
We All Return to the Place Where We Were Born” by Oscar Gonzales
Migration” by Major Jackson
In Exile” by Emma Lazarus
Immigrant Blues” by Li-Young Lee
Trailing Clouds of Glory” by Vijay Seshadri
Peaches” by Adrienne Su
Mannahatta” by Walt Whitman


Business by Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952


     “Syrian refugees go about their business in a refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan…”


Ropes on poles, jeans & shirts flapping in wind.
He sits on a giant bag of rice, head in hands.

Too much or too little, rips & bursts & furrows.
Something seared in a pan.

If you knew a mother, any mother, you would care
for mothers, yes?  No.

What it is to be lonesome for stacked papers
on a desk, under glass globe,

brass vase with standing pencils,
new orders.

How quickly urgencies of doing disappear.
And where is the child from the next apartment,

whose crying kept him awake
these last terrible months? 

Where do you file this unknowing?


Learn More about Poetry & Migration

Take a look at our curated collection of audio recordings, essays, books, poems, lesson plans, and other resources on migration, presented as part of the Poetry Coalition’s inaugural effort. 

And keep an eye out for a special week of poems by contemporary poets related to the theme of migration in Poem-a-Day, starting March 20.

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