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'Grounded' by poet Norma Smith

Norma Smith is an anti-racist and anti-zionist Jewish woman. Norma's main mode of being in the world is solidarity. She live in a multilingual, multicultural world and continues to be an active and important part of the Bay Area literary scene. Norma's poem "Grounded" is being published this year in DESPUES DEL AGUACERO: A Pan Dulce Poets Anthology being put out by Oakland's own Pochino Press.


There are still birds in the smoke-heavy air

flying blind, still following the sharp

edge of the V. They falter, as if to

crash against another message-

bearing flock, another formation still searching

for dry land after so long on the water

now that the last olive tree

has been uprooted in the holy land

and burns in the strangely

bitter neighbor’s field.

We are clueless.

We send another—

this one a lone, leather-winged,

saber-beaked raptor

out into the parched wilderness. She searches

for moisture. She returns

from the desert, un axolotl

held gently aloft, las dos luchando

por vida.

The two swim toward us

through the acrid

heaven. Someone must learn

to welcome our distant

relatives, who can teach us

to breathe again, as we move

overland, just above the ground,

in flight, crying,

Ojalá! Ojalá!