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poetry Asylum

An antidote to anti-immigrant sentiment, Seattle poet Jed Myers generously welcomes newcomers to this nation of immigrants, offering empathy and greeting from our ancestors: "what we’ve secured/only a few breaths before..."


By Jed Myers

I’ll offer you passage toward asylum
through the canals of my ears—please come
now, straight from the radio station.
I don’t know who you’ll find here
who speaks your language. But already
my grandmother calls to you in her Yiddish
as she chops beets for our borscht.
Your face, gritty in front page ink—
I think you could hide if you had to
in any odd shadow. But quick—
under these mom-and-pop storefront awnings
my eyelids. Please, come back
behind the shop, where we live—yes,
the kitchen. The future ferments
here in our memories’ brine. We’ve pressed
fine slices of reddened smoked fish,
gift of the parted seas, upon bread
fresh-risen on the yeasts of the West.
And let us eat by the candles we’ve dipped
in the wax of our histories’ hives, our stories
a weave, the wool of our sheep
on our shoulders. Too many have died—
there are all kinds of sudden fire,
and all the sparks one fear—the other comes
seeking asylum, what we’ve secured
only a few breaths before, and what
shall we offer? Here, my grandfather’s chair,
and the shawl he brought across the water.

Jed Myers lives in Seattle where he’s a psychiatrist with a therapy practice. He began to seek publication of his poems as of the events of 9/11/01. His collections include Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award) and the chapbook The Nameless (Finishing Line Press). He’s received Southern Indiana Review’s Editors’ Award among other honors. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Crab Orchard Review, Harpur Palate, Summerset Review, Atlanta Review, Common Ground Review, and elsewhere.

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