Jimmy Santiago Baca—an American poet of Chicano descent—published "I Am Offering This Poem" in 1979. The poem is first and foremost a love poem, with the speaker insisting that love itself is a gift more valuable and sustaining than any material comfort. But the poem is also a meditation on the power of poetry in its ability to capture and express meaningful emotions, and to provide comfort in moments of loneliness or hardship.
I am offering ...
... else to give.
Keep it like ...
... I love you,
I have nothing ...
... belly in winter,
it is a ...
... I love you,
Keep it, treasure ...
... becomes when mature;
and in the ...
... I will answer,
give you directions, ...
... you feel safe,
I love ...
... needs to live,
and to go ...
... I love you.
Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.
"A Place to Stand" Trailer — Watch the trailer for "A Place to Stand," the movie based on Jimmy Santiago Baca's memoir of the same name.
Jimmy Santiago Baca Reads the Poem — Listen to Baca himself reading "I Am Offering This Poem" aloud.
More About Baca — For more information about Jimmy Santiago Baca, take a look at this brief overview of his life and work.
An Interview with Baca — Listen to an interview in which Baca talks about the power of language and what it was like to learn to read as a young man in prison.
Baca's Writing Workshops — Learn about Baca's nonprofit organization, Cedar Tree, which works to bring writing workshops for at-risk young people to prisons, community centers, and schools.
1I am offering this poem to you,
2since I have nothing else to give.
3Keep it like a warm coat
4when winter comes to cover you,
5or like a pair of thick socks
6the cold cannot bite through,
7 I love you,
8I have nothing else to give you,
9so it is a pot full of yellow corn
10to warm your belly in winter,
11it is a scarf for your head, to wear
12over your hair, to tie up around your face,
13 I love you,
14Keep it, treasure this as you would
15if you were lost, needing direction,
16in the wilderness life becomes when mature;
17and in the corner of your drawer,
18tucked away like a cabin or hogan
19in dense trees, come knocking,
20and I will answer, give you directions,
21and let you warm yourself by this fire,
22rest by this fire, and make you feel safe,
23 I love you,
24It’s all I have to give,
25and all anyone needs to live,
26and to go on living inside,
27when the world outside
28no longer cares if you live or die;
30 I love you.