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Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 350,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication. For more information about how to syndicate Poem-a-Day, contact poem-a-day@poets.org.

From March 20 through 24, we’ll feature new poems by contemporary poets related to the theme of migration in Poem-a-Day, as part of the national effort Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration

Deception Story

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 23, 2017.
About this Poem 

“That immigration policy remains about maintaining the racial hygiene of this nation and I remain among its unhygienic, that every movement, every line of my life is interrupted and violated by state-sponsored language, and that it is possible to sublimate, sometimes weakly, sometimes forcefully, this woe of being born somehow ‘wrong,’ somehow messing up the neatly categorized and performed national picture into the most glorious bird to flip and flit is what drove this poem.”
—Solmaz Sharif

Deception Story


Friends describe my DISPOSITION

as stoic. Like a dead fish, an ex said. DISTANCE

is a funny drug and used to make me a DISTRESSED PERSON,

one who cried in bedrooms and airports. Once I bawled so hard at the border, even the man with the stamps and holster said Don’t cry. You’ll be home soon. My DISTRIBUTION

over the globe debated and set to quota. A nation can only handle so many of me. DITCHING

class, I break into my friend’s dad’s mansion and swim in the Beverly Hills pool in a borrowed T-shirt. A brief DIVERSION.

My body breaking the chlorinated surface makes it, momentarily, my house, my DIVISION

of driveway gate and alarm codes, my dress-rehearsed DOCTRINE

of pool boys and ping pong and water delivered on the backs of sequined Sparkletts trucks. Over here, DOLLY,

an agent will call out, then pat the hair at your hot black DOME.

After explaining what she will touch, backs of the hands at the breasts and buttocks, the hand goes inside my waistband and my heart goes DORMANT.

A dead fish. The last female assist I decided to hit on. My life in the American Dream is a DOWNGRADE,

a mere DRAFT

of home. Correction: it satisfies as DRAG.

It is, snarling, what I carve of it alone.

From Look by Solmaz Sharif, published by Graywolf Press. Copyright © 2016 by Solmaz Sharif. Used with permission of Graywolf Press.

From Look by Solmaz Sharif, published by Graywolf Press. Copyright © 2016 by Solmaz Sharif. Used with permission of Graywolf Press.

previous poems

date titlesort ascending author
September 26, 2013 Worst Things First Mark Bibbins
September 05, 2011 Work Without Hope Samuel Taylor Coleridge
September 07, 2015 Work Gangs Carl Sandburg
December 31, 2015 Work Sally Bliumis-Dunn
August 02, 2014 Work Emma Lazarus
August 02, 2013 Wonder Cabinet Tina Chang
February 07, 2015 Wonder and Joy Robinson Jeffers
May 16, 2011 Woman in Front of Poster of Herself Alice Notley
February 22, 2011 Wolf Cento Simone Muench
September 30, 2010 Witness Forrest Gander