is everywhere
the missing dog
lump on the couch
the missing boy
the kids’ room
closed off
for the time being
when I tended
to take up
with the wrong men
the lies we tell
to cover the ugly we see
in ourselves
the dog’s wheezing
the future
the past
the rug we traded the car for
memories contained
in this house
window witness
door witness
my memory
little boys
who get broken too soon
grown men
who got broken
as boys
the bundles of humanity
in the crook
of the bridge
hunkering down
in crevices
still too cold
their dogs
what their eyes have seen
my mother
the inability
to be kinder
this life

Laila Halaby

In addition to more than seventy-five poetry, essay, and short story publications, Laila Halaby is the author of two novels, Once in a Promised Land and West of the Jordan (winner of a PEN Beyond Margins award), a forthcoming memoir, The Weight of Ghosts (Red Hen 2023), and two collections of poetry, why an author writes to a guy holding a fish and my name on his tongue. Laila lives in Tucson where she works as a counselor, museum educator, and creative writing teacher.

Chuang Tzu