top of page

Stockholm- A Poem

Island Mother

You birth in me something ungiven,

Not a will to live but rather

A pair of permanently unfolded wings

And a sadistic thirst for flying

A will for Plathian nostalgia

(her stasis in darkness, my unhinged half)

Should I have phrased such a sentiment

Years before I tore the feathers off bleeding flesh

In a dream where you came for me

And screamed in mechanical fluency

When I thought a sanguine river would

Drown me out of sobriety--



Neon black if it ever existed,

You would have been its mother too,

The sun that rises still and stays

And stays

When in every other zenith

Its feathers are plucked into oblivion--

Only you

Only you with your tight and cold

Inherently indifferent affection

The coldest motherly love you give and ungive

Only you prophesize cries of

Some unknown sardonic passion that paints

Bridges from imaginary borders

Of all your islands whose children

Come to ask for milk. One nourishment.

Socialism in its finest and most uncanny form.

There is frost in late July.

Nordic Guardian,

Ants drown in cracks.

We are sunkissed

But only unknowingly.

We’ve come to ask for

A mother’s wisdom,

Her first nourishment

And us, your first


(We are)

Amongst others

Södermalm’s kin whom kiss you from afar

In the grandeur of our buttercup crowns, mud-caked feet

Singing saccharinely when we think you

Aren’t listening:

Feed us,

Sweet Stockholm!


Sapphic sky!

So what if the Greeks claimed to have invented

Eight varieties of love in place of the one complex

Array of lust that you engraved in us as birthmarks?

There is a heart-shaped mole

On the nape of my neck from when

You kissed existence into my birthmother’s

Stomach and spat me out,

A peach pit that grew from lichens

And salty soil.

Once, I am sure all my lovers

(Those imagined and those whose emotional height

Only reached Platonism)

Looked at me to find an impenetrable sheet

Of Northern Lights,

I am sure they would have thought to ask

Why no one could ascend this self-imposed hierarchical ladder of love,

why affection suddenly became bureaucratic.

When I puff pretty boys and girls kisses

They disintegrate in midair as if to make their way

Back to the glass lungs that made them.


Twenty-nine days past Midsummer.

Sun in Cancer. I can’t stop touching myself.

Closure is a damned concept when for

Years and years on end I went out

To buy gold-rimmed Sobranies. I replaced

Grief with ashes and the wavering motion of

Fingers pressed against a flame the way most men

Forget their children. Mother

Take me back. God help me, I didn’t know

What I was doing. For years and years on end I

Was hungry. I won’t know an afterlife any more permanent

Than these ashes that leave their red mark on my fingers.

I should confess none of this. I tremble like a sick tooth

In your absence and I don’t even know it. I travel promiscuously

But abroad all your words are mispronunciations.

Some less favorable than others.

It is not a product of wrongdoing, but rather

One of childlike gullibility,

The belief that with each rising sun our regrets

Are softer, fainter, perhaps the byproduct of

Youth-inspired allure. We use immigration and wanderlust synonymously.

Any past misdeeds find the invention

Of a kinder memory.


Six years and my mother’s cries of pain

As I proliferated from underneath her hips

Weren’t enough, at least never for me. All these years

I could only admire you from a distance, inside atlases

And through confused gazes of people who asked how

I spoke English with such a thick American accent when

My hair was so much yellower than theirs.

I fill out the same needless paperwork over


Over to revive your syntax. City and country of birth. Citizenship

Upon birth. Current citizenship. (Permanent) residence.

The living room is full of reminders of your presence in my life.

The unbreakable blue-and-yellow of a flag’s threads.

News articles including the erratic incident of gun violence in Gothenburg. I forget

Sunday school and ritual cleansing. Last month, on the cusp of Cancer and Leo, I stood on the threshold of half a room for the first time in countless Midsummers where I

Originally left you and realized your revival

Was all the holiness I could ask for.

bottom of page