Where I’m From (now)

One of my favorite things about facilitating Poetry Alive! institutes is the chance to sit down and play with the writing assignments while the participants are writing. For thirty minutes there’s no talking to listen to and finally I have the freedom to put pen to paper and see what flows out. I’ve done the “Where I’m From” and “I Am” (for a character in a poem) exercises more times than I can count, and I’m always surprised at what comes out. Since I have a few hours of riding in the passenger seat down the freeway toward my dog and the elusive spot I call home, I thought I’d type up for you what came out this time. Let me know where you’re from now…

Sunset over the neighborhood

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“Where I’m From”

I am from racing cars & horses
Building computers smarter & faster
While finding ways to make the garden grow
Always flowers, rarely food
Then the first flower turned tomato this year
Jazz men light up the night like firecrackers
Morning birdsong flute trills

I am from eleven generations of stubborn runaways
Fleeing the family to grow independent
Dust bowl survivors growing violets & collecting coins
Doctors, editors, engineers, vets, accountants, dreamers
Women working & creating alongside the men
Mending & melodies with crops & technology

I am from the Emerald City
Flying backwards over the rainbow
To the heartland
Tracing the arteries of the continent
To find a southern home
Reverse migration after the west was won

I am from constant movement
Fifteen years of travel
Never settling to form a family of my own
Letting go of everything
To fly where I’m needed next

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“I Am” (as a little star in “Wynken, Blynken, & Nod” by Eugene Field)

I am a joyful shining star
I wonder why those kids are trying to catch my reflection
I hear the moon ask them what they wish
I see them toss nets at my light reflected in the water
I want to laugh at their foolishness
I am a joyful shining star

I pretend I’m a herring fish swimming too fast to be caught
I feel the nets splash past my light
I touch the foam on the waves
I worry the kids will lose their way
I cry to the moon to help them
I am a joyful shining star.

I understand the children are dreaming
I say I’m never afraid
I dream of diving under the waves
I try to brighten the night
I hope to light the children’s way home
I am a joyful shining star

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