OISS Dispatch: Poetry

Who Can Submit: Submissions are open to all current UCSB undergraduate and graduate students and international scholars. Previously published poems considered (with permission of poet and acknowledgement). Poems in any language are welcome.

How to Submit: email your poems to OISSprograms@sa.ucsb.edu. Please include the text of your poem in the email and attach a PDF (formatting such as italics or line spacing can be lost otherwise).

Submission Deadline: Submissions are invited at any time. Now is a great time!

Vagabond Multilingual Journal
The OISS Dispatch is a monthly online journal of poems that celebrate travel and travelers, places far away and the people inhabiting them. Published by the Office of International Students & Scholars, the Dispatch is seeking poems that celebrate travel and international experience. Co-sponsored by Student Academic Initiatives.

All poems about travel, destinations, or distant places will be considered.

Featured Poems

Empty & Open, by Selena Ross

by Feb 04, 2015

Right before I flew back over the Arabian Sea,
Crossing the Atlantic
To land by my Pacific,
I stuffed fistfuls of dust into my suitcase,
But they slipped out every hole.

I set my soul on every train that passed me,
(now it’s all past me)
I scratched my skin to leave a mark to show
It all really happened.

Now--I stare at streets so familiar they scare me
I know I have been here before,
(I think I’m here after)
This would have been a homecoming
if I didn’t realize
I don’t know
what that means.

The sky was smaller when I didn’t know that feeling lost was taught to me,
or that empty is just another word for open,

I spent the last half a year trying to squeeze myself into tight spaces,
dodging overflowing motorcycles,
in between women wrapped in rainbows,
And now here in what is home,
knowing that
sunsets are different in other corners of the world—
when you don’t know the language to call the colors

Because I only know the
Hindi word for window--

it is nothing but a hole in a wall,
the absence of something that lets you see everything.
It is bigger when you take off the blinds.

I am trying to stich together the scraps

I know of this world into a shape I recognize,
I find a corner here--a blue bit, a piece of sky
But there is no room for everything to fit underneath it.

This morning I was back in my Pacific,
In the land of the hills I carved my name from
And I might belong to the waves
Because at least no one could ever tell me
Where one ocean ends and another begins.

It’s always the same water.
Salt water and empty space.
Salt water and open space.