Thunder Over a Nation

Spread the Fire

A thunderstorm of darkness
accumulates over a nation:
a leader of darkness descends
from the sky. I was born a boy
in a world that whispers.

Outside the orphanage, Dad
said This is all for the best. How
did he die? I’m not sure. I hear
the camps devour people whole,
sweeping the last crumbs of life
under the rug of genocide.

I scuttle like an ant from town
to town where a bakery sits.
For shelter I bake: blistered
hands kneading sweet bread.

We used to make Challah.
Challah: sweet cinnamon
fell into my hands while
snow fell on the windowsill.
Dad said Freedom should
never be taken for granted.

When the soldiers enter
the bakery, I am an owl,
still and quiet in their red

Their boots dig into the flour
on the floor, I can hear it.

I run from the bakery when
sun rises the next morning.
I run from this country when
sun rises the next morning.




Spread the Fire is a Youth Speaks workshop series facilitated by YS Poet Mentor, Hieu Minh Nguyen. The series aims to demystify the publishing side of poetry. In the workshop, poets learn how to refine and prepare their poems for publication. The fire you spit on stage, can also scorch the page. Burning down the borders between page and stage, poets learn how their poems can gain a new life by accessing a readership through publishing. 

All the Unyielding Things

I just want to be a mitigator.
I just want to be a little something
to take the edge off.


The only life in sight: the “E” flashing in the exit sign a few feet above my eye line.