"Alive": A Poem

Dear Abby, said someone from Oregon,
I am having trouble with my boyfriend’s attachment
to an ancient gallon of milk still full
in his refrigerator. I told him it’s me or the milk,
is this unreasonable? Dear Carolyn,
my brother won’t speak to me
because fifty years ago I whispered
a monkey would kidnap him in the night
to take him back to his true family,
but he should have known it was a joke
when it didn’t happen, don’t you think?
Dear Board of Education, no one will ever
remember a test. Repeat. Stories,
poems, projects, experiments,
mischief, yes, but never a test.
Dear Joaquin Phoenix,
just take a break and come back later.
Dear Dog Behind the Fence, you really need
to calm down now. You have been barking every time
I walk to the compost heap for 2 years
and I have not robbed your house. Relax.
When I asked the man on the other side
if you bother him too, he smiled and said no,
he makes me feel less alone. Should I be more
worried about the dog or the man?

From the September/October 2009 Horn Book Magazine.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye is the current Young People’s Poet Laureate and author, most recently, of Cast Away: Poems for Our Time (Greenwillow).

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