August Lit: "Chain Migration" by Janine Joseph

August 7, 2014

Image by Chris Nitz via Flickr

August brings us a poem by Janine Joseph, recent recipient of the Kundiman Poetry Prize. This poem, "Chain Migration," is a nostalgic look at childhood, imagination, and the tender relationship between siblings.

--Karissa Chen, Fiction & Poetry Editor


He wanted nothing more than to punch me out of his room
for sneaking in and rifling the toy box, but didn’t—

not a sway out of him—because he felt sorry
I didn’t have any friends. Then he took

our mom’s bobby pins in his hands and bent them back
into anchors, small black bobbyhooks

for Turtle fishing, he said, and tossed Donatello
and Michelangelo from the top bunk while I tackled

makeshift monofilament through the eyes of the turtlehooks.
How long did it take me to snag Leonardo?

How long was I almost capsizing the bunkboat?
He was so good at sinking his line, at aiming just right

so every cast was a ninja star into their turtlebacks.
It was merely hardwood water between them and me

and when he unreeled me over the rail by my belt loops,
he whispered, get-set-go—



Janine Joseph

Janine Joseph’s debut collection, Driving Without a License, Winner of the 2014 Kundiman Poetry Prize, is forthcoming in Spring 2016 from Alice James Books. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from The Journal, Kenyon Review Online, Drunken Boat, Eleven Eleven, The Collagist, and elsewhere. Her libretto From My Mother’s Mother was performed as part of the Houston Grand Opera’s “Song of Houston: East + West” series. She holds an MFA from New York University and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston.