Tales of an Immigrant

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by Philip Kienholz

Recorded by author

On the move our roots were loose
I was still tracking our baggage
When will it let me leave it behind?
                    Can I leave any behind?
                          Did I 
                                    leave 
                                              any behind —

the little a migrant could carry
through borders with the body’s memories 
                                                                             some to be treasured      
some others endured

New lifetime deconditioning the strictures of an old god
overwhelmed and charmed by a thousand cultures 
      a hundred thousand songs

Warmed by a suit of carbon clothing I fumble
to unbutton   
                      automobiles      airplanes      furnaces

The civilization fighting me 
                                                  pins and needles me
stacks up government money 
                                                    as if stories of our wellness

Unnumbered beings that coelesce and divide
their meanings multiply as swirls of current 
                                                                              in a riversblood.

In another universe      one beyond language we
are yellow mulberry leaves trembling in an autumn
breeze      and the breeze

Our knowing calling them forth 
                                                          Imagine each
                             of us doing that

Thanks to the garden’s bur oak, beaked hazel, John
and Adam elderberries, quince, currants      their generous
leaves our own wealth 
                                         composting
to seed bank of the soil 
                                         rooted now
in a river’s wide flood


Recorded by Carmen Rumbaut

Philip was born in Virginia, and grew up in Minnesota. He studied architecture and creative writing at North Dakota State University. He moved to Canada during the war with Vietnam, received a B. Arch from the University of Manitoba, and is now retired from professional architectural practice in Manitoba and Northwest Territories. Philip has published one poetry book and two chapbooks. Periodical poetry of the last two years is at The Closed Eye Open, Wild Roof Review, Nine Cloud Journal, Lucky Jefferson, New World Writing, Gravitas, Train: a poetry journal, Free State Review, Unpsychology Magazine, and The Write Launch.

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