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My city is dying in English and French
in Greek and Arabic.

My city is dying in Italian and Yiddish
in Mandarin and Portuguese.

My city is dying in Urdu and Farsi
in Russian and Lithuanian.

My city is dying in Spanish and Swahili
in Ojibway and Hebrew.

My city is dying, and I am out
of Grandmother’s thread.

My city has street signs no one can read.
Rusted out, each is a wrong direction.

My city is an island that loves a mountain.
Its volcano lies dreaming.

My city lost my parents’ ghosts
their childhood no longer laughing.

My city weeps long through night
when its song is broken.

My city’s music waits restless
beneath its melting snow.

My city has locked all the graveyards
to keep the dying out.

Please come quickly to my city.
No-one can translate the language of the dead.


As a dual citizen Babo Kamel resides in Montreal, Quebec and in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her work has appeared in the Greensboro Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, CV2, Poet Lore, and Best Canadian Poetry 2020 among others.  She is a Best of Net nominee, and a six-time Pushcart nominee. Her chapbook, After, is published with Finishing Line Press. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson’s Program For Writers. Her book, What The Days Wanted is published with Broadstone Books.

© 2022, Babo Kamel

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