, May 21, 2024

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Self-Portrait with Impending War

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Self-Portrait with Impending War


Nowhere in her poem, ​“Self-Por­trait with Impend­ing War”, does Lau­ren K. Alleyne men­tion a war, but the rumors of war and the dis­qui­et of the world seem to haunt this ​“self-por­trait” in which the self extends far beyond Alleyne’s per­son­al­ized self and attempts to achieve a con­nec­tion to all who must con­sid­er the com­pli­ca­tions of a home that is at once embrac­ing and dan­ger­ous. In the end, Alleyne’s poem is a jere­mi­ad — a warn­ing of what can be lost to the wars that are always impending.

By Lauren K. Alleyne

Home is the hodgepodge house,
the vacant lot beside it, the ailing
mango tree, the stingy coconut trees
with nobody left to climb them anyway.
Perhaps, you think, home could be this
continent with its confused seasons,
the roads that roll out in front of you,
limitless as the night sky. Home be this
small silence you curl into anywhere you go,
the one hovering in your chest beating
its fleshy time. This planet you scar
with too many clothes and plastic bags: home.
And where to run but everywhere?
What to weep for, but what is going,
somehow, to be gone?

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2022 by Lauren K. Alleyne, “Self Portrait with Impending War” from Porter House Review. Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2022 by The Poetry Foundation.

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