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Split This Rock Poem of the Week :: Nov. 16

Poem of the Week

Tanya Olson

Photo of Tanya Olson sipping coffee
what else

What else should I want. But to
be a boy. A boy. At his mother’s hip.
A boy between. His father
and the plow. A boy to remain.
What else.

When a boy. I ran fevers.
In these fevers. I ran circles.
Pursued. Front stairs up.
Back stairs down.  No bright
lines. Only constant threshold.
How as a boy did I know. Some houses
had one stairs for family. One stairs
for help. During fevers
I knew not. If I was sick.
Or a betrayer of the other worlds.

As a boy. I thought picking up
the gun would make me. No longer
a boy. As a boy with a gun. I thought
being elsewhere. Made me
a different boy. As a boy with a gun
and a different tongue. I thought
returning home. Would bring me home.

What else did I. But run. What else
should I dream. But of home.
And home and home. What else to want.
But to be a boy and a boy and a boy.
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From Boyishly (YesYes Books, 2013). Used with permission. Photo by Ruth Eckles.

 
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Tanya Olson lives in Silver Spring, Maryland and is a Lecturer in English at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Her first book, Boyishly, was published by YesYes Books in 2013 and was awarded a 2014 American Book Award. She has also won the Discovery/Boston Review prize and was named a Lambda Emerging Writers Fellow by the Lambda Literary Foundation. Her poem 54 Prince was included in Best American Poetry 2015.
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Please feel free to share Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this post, including this request. Thanks!
To read more poems of provocation and witness, please visit The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database at SplitThisRock.org.
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We strive to preserve the text formatting of poems over e-mail, but certain e-mail programs may distort how characters, fonts, indents, and line wraps appear.
If you have difficulty reading this poem, please visit the poem at our site.

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