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Naomi Shihab Nye quotes (showing 1-30 of 93)

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing
inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.


Colombia”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Words Under the Words: Selected Poems
“I love the solitude of reading. I love the deep dive into someone else's story, the delicious ache of a last page.”
Naomi Shihab Nye
“The person you have known a long tme is embedded in you like a jewel. The person you have just met casts out a few glistening beams & you are fascinated to see more of them. How many more are there? With someone you've barely met the curiosity is intoxicating.”
Naomi Shihab Nye
“I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

Naomi Shihab Nye
“It is really hard to be lonely very long in a world of words. Even if you don't have friends somewhere, you still have language, and it will find you and wrap its little syllables around you and suddenly there will be a story to live in.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, I'll Ask You Three Times, Are You OK?: Tales of Driving and Being Driven
“Being good felt like a heavy coat, so I took it off.”
Naomi Shihab Nye
“Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Red Suitcase
The Rider

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn't catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.
A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Fuel
I Still Have Everything You Gave Me

It is dusty on the edges.
It is slightly rotten.
I guard it without thinking.
I focus on it once a year
when I shake it out in the wind.
I do not ache.
I would not trade.”
Naomi Shihab Nye
“you will never catch up.
Walk around feeling like a leaf
know you could tumble at any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

--The Art of Disappearing”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poets
“When they say Don't I know you? say no.
When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.
If they say we should get together.
say why? It's not that you don't love them any more.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees.
The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished. When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven't seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don't start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.
Walk around feeling like a leaf. Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.”
Naomi Shihab Nye
“Let me peer out at the world
through your lens. (Maybe I'll shudder,
or gasp, or tilt my head in a question.)
Let me see how your blue
is my turquoise and my orange
is your gold. Suddenly binary
stars, we have startling
gravity. Let's compare
scintillation - let's share
starlight.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets under 25
tags: stars
“Getting over what you did to me is not why I get out of bed anymore.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets under 25
Making a Fist

For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern
past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.

"How do you know if you are going to die?"
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
"When you can no longer make a fist."

Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Words Under the Words: Selected Poems
“I am looking for the human who admits his flaws
Who shocks the adversary
By being kinder not stronger
What would that be like?
We don't even know”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Honeybee: Poems & Short Prose
“Where we live in the world
is never one place. Our hearts,
those dogged mirrors, keep flashing us
moons before we are ready for them.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East
“maybe we try too hard to be remembered, waking to the glowing yellow disc in ignorance, swearing that today will be the day, today we will make

something of our lives. what if we are so busy searching for worth that we miss the sapphire sky and cackling blackbird. what else is missing?

maybe our steps are too straight and our paths too narrow and not overlapping. maybe when they overlap someone in another country lights a candle, a couple

resolves their argument, a young man puts down his silver gun and walks away.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets under 25
“Because sometimes I live in a hurricane of words
and not one of them can save me.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Words Under the Words: Selected Poems
“Today you will say things you can predict and other things you could never imagine this minute. Don't reject them, let them come through when they're ready, don't think you can plan it al out. This day will never, no matter how long you live, happen again. It is exquisitely singular. It will never again be exactly repeated.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, I'll Ask You Three Times, Are You OK?: Tales of Driving and Being Driven
“I'm like the weather, never really can predict when this rain cloud's gonna burst; when it's the high or it's the low, when you might need a light jacket.

Sometimes I'm the slush that sticks to the bottom of your work pants, but I can easily be the melting snowflakes clinging to your long lashes.

I know that some people like:

sunny and seventy-five,
sunny and seventy-five,
sunny and seventy-five,

but you take me as I am and never
forget to pack an umbrella.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets under 25
“If someday, in a morning, you see you,
in a mirror or the dent of a spoon, and wonder
Where is my soul and
Where has it gone, remember this:
Catch the gaze of a woman
on the metro, subway, tram.
Look at a man. Seek and
you will find you
in the silvered space,
a flash between souls.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets under 25
“It was terrible when a single conversation with someone determined your whole future relationship.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, There Is No Long Distance Now
“Poetry [is] more necessary than ever as a fire to light our tongues.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poets
“Mystery: Everything felt better before you got there than when you actually got there. When you actually got there, you didn't quite have the energy to be there.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, I'll Ask You Three Times, Are You OK?: Tales of Driving and Being Driven
“Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth.”
Naomi Shihab Nye
“only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, I Feel a Little Jumpy Around You: A Book of Her Poems & His Poems Collected in Pairs
tags: poems
“I want to be someone making music/with my coming.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, A Maze Me: Poems for Girls
“I never did understand
why the tree was still happy
at the end. The little boy
used her until she was
nothing but a stump.
She couldn't even run away.
But the ending was always the same:
"And the tree was happy.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets under 25
“My mother used to tell me when I went somewhere, "Please leave your foolishness at home." But how could I do that? It was stuck on me.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, I'll Ask You Three Times, Are You OK?: Tales of Driving and Being Driven
“I'm writing mostly to thank you for living
you eighty years
and to tell you I love you
and think of you often.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets under 25

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