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MIGRATION PATTERNS

Soma Mei Sheng Frazier wrote, "Migration Patterns" is a magical-realist poem in which natural wonders ally with the speaker to overcome the cramped, killing logic of border guards and colonizers. Frazier commented, "Things that will make or break a poem: rebellion. Unbending optimism. Prescriptions of song as panacea...This is a poet who pulls off, with grace, what so many of us ache to write—to manifest—but don't quite dare."

By Melissa Studdard
Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest 2019
First Prize, Tom Howard, Poetry

In the dream I tell customs my llama is a goat.
Because sometimes the heart is not large

enough to hold what is beautiful
if the mind finds it exotic. Sometimes the mind

mistakes itself for a hoarded piece of land
and little campfires spring up everywhere. Smoke

slinks through chain link. Small hands and shoulders
capsize beneath a dehydrated, salt-sick

sun. In the dream I carry mountains through
international waters. I carry the hills, their babies,

to safety. Sometimes I wave away a predator
and there is fire in my hand and my hand

does not want to be part of a human body.
It wants to belong to the llama, the goat, the hills,

the mountain. In the dream I've got the North Star
in my trunk. I'm driving it across a border.

I'm taking it to a different part of the sky. It can't
stand what it has seen. What we need

is not a fixed point. What we need is a world
anthem that everyone knows the words to, one

that says, Come in, come on, come over. I've got you.
In the dream, light leaks from thin cracks

where the trunk door meets the body of the car.
The star says, Put me on the dashboard, and I will guide

you.
 The officer says, Illegal. You can't take a star
to another part of the sky.
 And I say, Watch me.

I say, I've got enough light to do anything.


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