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Naomi Shihab Nye: Ted Kooser is My President

When I travel abroad, I will invoke
Ted’s poems at checkpoints:
yes, barns, yes, memory, gentility,
the quiet little wind among stones.
If they ask, You are American?
I will say, Ted’s kind of American.
No, I carry no scissors or matches.
Yes, horizons and dinner tables.
Yes, weather, the honesty of it.
Buttons, chickens. Feel free
to dump my purse. I’ll wander
to the window, stare out for days.
Actually, I have never been
to Nebraska, except with Ted,
who hosted me dozens of times,
though we have never met.
His deep assurance comforts me.
He’s not big on torture at all.
He could probably sneak into your country
when you weren’t looking
and say something really good about it.
Have you noticed those purple blossoms
in a clump beside your wall?


From Tender Spot published by Bloodaxe Books, England



Naomi Shihab Nye at a book signing in San Antonio, Texas in 2008

4 comments on “Naomi Shihab Nye: Ted Kooser is My President

  1. Reality Sandwiches
    February 9, 2017

    Oh I love her poetry. Thanks for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. triciaknoll
    February 1, 2017

    AH! Naomi, what a treasure. You and Ted Kooser just about my two favorite poets! Especially today when I got to read this poem! Thank you! Thank you! I can see him at the fencepost and you at the checkpoint.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. David Ades
    February 1, 2017

    Thank you. I love the calmness here, the attention to little things that makes them much more than little, the way the poem is grounded, the invocations to gentility and honesty and goodness, the way the intolerable is met with kindness. Little winds, horizons, purple blossoms, whole books residing between the lines…

    Liked by 2 people

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