118 by Tariq Touré

Tariq Touré's sophomore collection 2 Parts Oxygen is a weighty tribute to family roots, the miraculous privilege of fatherhood, and Islam in Black America. This is the opening poem, about his Ummi.


Ummi’s house is beaten by the aroma
of a whistling kettle filled with red zinger tea
grandchildren bouncing in & out screen doors
firecrackers conversing in the backyard
neighbors shouting yesterday’s yesterdays
with living rooms just big enough to seat
the world’s problems
And July’s you had to stand dead center
to comprehend

Ummi is a house too,
with 7 attics and 55 windows
shaped in circles of all sizes
She is where searching souls find
a reflection of the words they once housed

She reminds us, with perfect diction
that we are strangers in this land
no matter how her smile threads
through a crowded room
it will one day return to the sky

Olivet Lane brought buttered biscuit to mouth
carved Sunday dinners out of maybe
deposited toy truck to hand and sent soldiers
into a world at war with our wishes

We too became houses wrapped in a concert of windows.
We too became a home for travelers
no duty more sacred than
serenity in the pores of our guests,
traffickers of light.

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A nation passed through the arch of her back,
And while lightning never strikes
the same place twice,
it always found its way home

Infants crawling scattered below her ankles
will forget too soon
how close they were
to paradise

Purchase Tariq’s new book of poetry: 2 Parts Oxygen: How I Learned to Breathe 

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One response to “118 by Tariq Touré”

  1. Avatar Laura says:

    I love poetry that makes me stop and savor the words and ponder them. This was a fulfilling read.

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