Tuesday Poem: ‘Strange Land’ by Erica Goss

Strange Land

Wind brings
the American desert
to our front door

inside the house
it’s the old country

America takes practice
mother prepares
our daily lessons

each morning we emigrate
our fermenting lunchboxes
ripe with foreign stink

the war of two languages
leaves us mute in school
speak up, the teacher says

red ants pierce the heart
of our flimsy suburb
slip into bags of sugar

paper wasps ping the house
build nests from wood
and their own fierce saliva

the insatiable wind
presses against the walls
America drifts under the doorsill

mother scrubs the hot windows
scans the hazy air
always look up, she says

how did she outlast her childhood
in a black cellar
while bombers inked the sky?

our questions pain her
it’s enough to survive
don’t ask me for more

— First published in Eclectica, 2010

copyright Erica Goss. Posted with permission from the author.


Wild Place imageI asked Erica Goss to share her poetry when I read her September column at Awkword Paper Cut, in which she described the the idea of drought and the necessary patterns and rhythms in nature — and how enduring those can be thought of in a positive light, just as writers may think of ‘dry’ spells as times for replenishing, refueling and rethinking. She said it much better than that of course — and I was so delighted by her short column that I immediately wanted to read more of her work. When she sent this poem, I was equally intrigued to hear it’s a kind of tribute to her mother, who spent years in the healing and magical deserts of North America after growing up in the tumultuous landscape of World War 2. 

You can read the rest of her Sticks and Stones column at Awkword Paper Cut here. It’s worth a look; Erica’s poetry and reflections inspire.

Thank you, Erica, for sharing with the Tuesday Poem series. I’ve had a dry spell at the Glow Worm blog, so it’s good to be back with such riches.

More about the poet:

Erica Goss-JPEG FulRes-0003Erica Goss is the Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA, and the host of Word to Word, a show about poetry. She is the author of Wild Place (Finishing Line Press 2012) and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets (PushPen Press 2014). She won the 2011 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Contest and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2010 and 2013. She writes The Third Form, a column about video poetry, for Connotation Press. Recent work appears in Lake Effect, Atticus Review, The Red Wheelbarrow, Passager, Up the Staircase, Main Street Rag, Pearl, Rattle, Wild Violet, and Comstock Review, among others. Please visit her website: www.ericagoss.com.


Tuesday Poem is a collective of poets who share poetry on a weekly basis across borders and time zones. At the TP hub this week you’ll find  “Fauverie” by Pascale Petit, posted by TP editor this week, English poet Kathleen Jones. 

Tuesday Poem For more Tuesday Poems, go here.


This entry was posted in Other People's Stuff and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Tuesday Poem: ‘Strange Land’ by Erica Goss

  1. Momat927 says:

    I love how she avoids the sensational. it’s enough to survive Lovely.

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