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Poem of the Month for October 2019

Post Date:September 30, 2019 3:03 pm

of Valley and Desert

          {hear my name
          as it should be}

     i am the son of dona
     i am the son of sa’id

both run through me

               i throw rocks across water
               waiting for the swell
               to disrupt its pattern

                    i rub the riverbank’s deposits
                    through the sweat pores
                    of my linen flesh

                         i dive without breath
                         pull the thread of possession
                         from its warpath

          {hear my name
          split like a river’s veins}

     i am of the san joaquin
     i am of the nile

                              i am of dona
                              of her surface
                              that buries marrow
                              well under a requiem
                              but can funnel a drift
                              only if there are swans

          {hear my name
          cloak its homelands}

     i am of her san joaquin
     river and valley

                              i am of sa’id
                              his voice raving
                              from the sediment
                              of a river’s recession
                              because nothing regenerates
                              mortality like mourning

          {hear my name
          shoot from rupture}

     i am of his sahara
     i am of his nile

                                        dona
                                        sa’id
                                        san joaquin
                                        nile
                                        sahara

          {hear my name
          as it should be}

i am of dona and sa’id
i am of valley and desert
i am of their water
i am of their dirt
all run through me
and i run through them

by Tamer Sa'id Mostafa

Tamer Sa’id Mostafa is an Arab-American Muslim from Stockton, California whose work has appeared in over twenty journals and magazines. His chapbook, “Which Way Will the Water Drag Our Bodies?” is forthcoming from Monday Night Press, out of Oakland, California.

In this beautiful poem Mr. Mostafa bridges the distance between the Nile River and the San Joaquin River, the distance between the homeland of his ancestry and the homeland of his own birth. Here is his connection to family, honoring his parents, and his connection to this vast valley in California, honoring the place that is his home. I first first this poem read aloud by the poet; I hosted his Davis reading on September 20th. His deep, sonorous voice captured the love in this work. I urge you to read it aloud as well, and to consider your own connections, your own ancestors and family, and to your own home in this tremendous valley.

James Lee Jobe
Davis Poet Laureate

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