Category Archives: poetry

Where I Come From: a poem

There’s a poem called Where I’m From by Kentucky writer George Ella Lyon which is used as a popular writing prompt. You should try it (even if you don’t consider yourself a writer). It’s fascinating which moments and memories pop up. Here’s mine…

http://www.ForestWander.com

http://www.ForestWander.com

Where I Come From

My roots are thick with coal dust
from a small mining town.
Thorn-pricked fingers stained purple from
dew-covered-dawn blackberry hunts.
I come from Pierogis, Goulash, garden delights
plucked by grandfather’s hands.

Snow-bound winters in unforgiving
Pennsylvania country
where my best friend’s sister disappeared
off our back-country road, murdered by
a serial killer.
I learned to tip-toe early.

I come from long, winding, car-sick trips
to grandma’s house. Real maple candy and
Dairy Queen after softball.
Rustling fall leaves, intoxicating sweetness,
covered bridges and deer hunting season.

I come from
fireflies-in-a-jar childhood magic, hours
in the woods, stomping through
cold-water creeks lifting rocks
for the reward of glistening jewel-eyed
salamanders. Wild-nature child.

I come from a deep love of books and solitude.
I come from don’t-tell-me-what-to-do and
God-my-heart-is-breaking and

I come from my mother, soft-shelled
heart, artist. And my father: I was
chipped off the block of his perfectionism.

I come from the year we moved south
and I fell in love with the ocean and
impossibly blue wide-open Florida sky.

Folding up my wings and
closing the book, it no longer matters
where I come from because
I am home.

Snowbirds: a poem

 

Snowbirds:
Please don’t take offense to
our ‘welcome-now-go-home’
attitude.

We understand your flight from
black ice, snow shovels and frozen
gray skies.
It’s endearing the way you
come to us in a wave
of exhales;
Your cares abandoned
in your coat pocket
back home,
Alongside crumpled Kleenex and
sticky throat lozenges.

Our service industries bow down to
your appetites, open wallets and ability
to morph into an audience:
Filling seats, buying tickets, renting
squares, shares and time.

We do try.
When you pour in, filling the space
between the crusts of clouds and sand
like too much pie filling.

We do try…
Politely maneuvering around
your grocery carts clogging
the aisle at Publix. Counting
backwards or counting
our breath as
we sit
in the parking lots that used to be
our highways;
Buying mangoes at midnight because
there’s no room
to park
in our parking lots.

Detouring us to accommodate you.

We do try.
Because we also like turning
strangers into friends,
Seeing our home fresh through
your eyes;

We do watch you–
Now that the thousands of
Ibis are gone.
(The ponds are gone, also.)

As you watch the sun
sink below the horizon;
smelling of sunscreen and
the Pinot Grigio in your
plastic cups.

A shared awe.
In these moments we
don’t have to try.

But also know that when
you go, when you flee
the humidity, leaving us to our
hurricane shutters and
evacuation routes,
We will exhale and stretch
into the quiet
space
you leave behind.

We will lay–empty as discarded,
pillaged clam shells—
(Our patience shucked)

Under the baking
August sun. We will float
in the salty ocean bowl–
warm as bathwater–and
recharge while smiling
languidly at the
stories
you’ve left behind.

To The Men Running the U.S. Government

So, this should probably be a slam poem and maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to record it as such. For now, I’m sharing it as the written word. After learning about the House panel voting to make women sign up for the draft, my rage and fear needed somewhere soft to land, to untangle itself. That place for me is here:

Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Sorrow

Vincent Van Gogh Public Domain PD-old-100

To the men running the U.S. government, the ones on the House panel who’ve voted to force our daughters to sign up for the draft…here’s the thing: Yes, I’ve known women who’ve been raped. I’ve known women who’ve locked themselves in a bathroom on a date and slept there to keep from being raped. I’ve even personally known a woman who was abducted by a serial killer, raped and strangled with her own underwear.  I know a woman who clutches her mace and her anxiety as she walks to work, as she pumps gas, as she maneuvers any parking lot with trepidation because she’s been accosted by more than one man over the years who just wants to chat or wants five dollars for gas or possibly wants to stab her and tuck her into his trunk because she watches the news and this is a possibility. She’s learned to duck the bullets of hey baby and you fine girl and you too good to talk to me?  I know this woman because she is all of us. The woman living with a flight or fight system on high alert. A twitching ear. A body poised to run. The mothers who send their daughters off to college with pink mace and pleas to text us when she gets home safely; the young girls who are beginning to understand the leers, the danger the entitlement lurking behind them…women are already veterans of a silent war at home, one that has us on edge behind our polite smiles, one that you in your place of patriarchal safety will never understand.  So, yes, by all means…send them to the front lines of a different kind of war you created for the purpose of power and money and greed and invisible lines where they don’t even have the protection of a “civilized society” or of murder being an actual crime. Send them to be captured by the enemy and raped and put their fellow male soldiers in danger because they will lose their shit and most likely their own lives trying to save them because that’s what the good ones do. Bring home your warped idea of equality in a body bag and lay it next to all the other dead things you refused to understand.

(“Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.” -Margaret Atwood)