four poems – shlesha basnet

sheet music
Photo: Ian Parker

on my immigration

Grief visited me like a roaring fire
from my round belly.
Sorrow engulfed
like a volcano
using me to clear a path for destruction.
Anguish took me by the hair and flung me around
day to day
like a tornado
ripping apart entire towns
launching metal into sky to make electricity.
I couldn’t understand the hunger
of a first true heartbreak
until I lived through the disaster.


model minority

When the white-hot violence finally reaches my community
it is with a shock
because we are the good,
one of the models in minority,
and despite this,
if our bodies are still deemed different
enough to be dispensable,
are we brought to reckon with our internalized shame
that led us to believe our existence depended on
being an unwilling willing confidant to our supposed

To reckon with the idea that
we are better than
those whose land we
and those whose bodies were
ground to the ground
to build a sense of nation?


where is home?

When you are constantly asked where you are from,
where you belong
while you straddle several worlds,
what choice do you have
but to make yourself your home.
Plant that lovely garden around you
and stay a while.


my english words

My black bata english medium boarding middle school shoes –
glossed and shined.

A singular activity
with black polish on a soft bristled brush
then a hard-bristled brush
that buffed and swiped until
I met the rules on appearance:
my reflections clear on the tops of my shoes
distracted from the black
on my palms,
under my fingers

my english words then
were mumbled under breath,
rehearsed out of sight,
practiced until my
assimilation shined
so that
when my father called cable companies
and asked me to interpret his spoken english,
the ear on the other side of the wire would finally understand, would
finally care to hear.
No longer would they laugh and
ask me to repeat
when my Ca-lee-for-nee-ah became kal-uh-fawrn-yuh
my cu-tit-ow-tuh became cut-it-out.


Shlesha Basnet is a clinical social worker and a part-time dabbler in poetry as a means to self-healing. She was born in Nepal and has resided in Colorado for more than half her life. Shlesha loves to hike, listen to stories, and attempts to love cooking.

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