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POEM: Origins

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Tell me where you’re from

from the Berkshire hills
from a yellow-brick building
with a drug store in the bottom
from a mother and a father
who gave me love and madness
from firefighters in a flooded basement
and old men with missing fingers
from the daddy longlegs, north-pointing
and the tobacco-scented southern earth
from industrial towns in upstate New York
and the blue-carpeted van
from this school and this one and this one, too
always new, always being introduced
from the haven of my room and
from dreams of the ocean
from dinosaur bones and long words
and pretty girls with the same first name
from 27 houses and apartments
in too many towns and cities
from first cars and first kisses
and second chances and third strikes
from the Irish and the German
from the 17th-century seafarers
from the town cowherd and
a documentation analyst
from a radio host and a typesetter
and the receptionist at England Brothers
from drunks and crazy women
who shouted at busts of Wagner
from the laundress and the waitress
and the jailed superintendent
from fire-red Mustang convertibles
and tickling under the dining room table
from submarines and Thailand
and the Housatonic River
from scalding sauce and icy water
and bandages and tears
from desert sands and bald tires
and cheese crackers and Wendy’s
from Chapel Hill to Lexington
Amarillo to Tucson
from the foothills to the mountains
to a backyard filled with stones
from a Big Wheel to a bicycle
to too many unknown homes
from the saxophone to the microphone
to the studio to the stage
from Citalopram and therapy
depression, bliss and rage
from messy rooms and folded laundry
from turn that down and crank it up
from countless hours of talking
and countless talking of ours
from Furukawa to Yokohama
from Catholicism to Methodism to
atheism to Buddhism to atheism
from selfishness to fatherhood
from one side to the other
from husband, father, lover, cousin,
uncle, friend and brother
from Main and Church, from Plunkett,
Chad Circle and Knapp Road
from Dodge and Tanque Verde
from Aoba-ku and Glendale
from Raymond Street and Kellie Court
from Lenox, Pittsfield, Lanesborough,
Syracuse, Oklahoma City, Rochester,
Potsdam, Hilton Head, Concord,
and more and more and more
from Kurt Vonnegut and Hunter Thompson
and Douglas Adams and Hayden Carruth
and George Lucas and John Williams
and John William Coltrane and Steve Lacy
and Charles Mingus and Paul Desmond
and Nova and Batman and Walt Whitman
and Donald Hall and Albert Goldbarth
and Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac
from doubt and fear
from courage and confession
from harmony and discord
from humor and illness
from long-dormant and active
from diagnosis and treatment
and from all the same places you’re from


Tell me where you’re from

Published in Audio Poems Family My poems Poetry


  1. I was born in New Yawk, but Western Mass now… I like the references to those places in your poem. Strong work!

  2. @Dan: Thanks! (And huzzah for Ohio!)

    @Robin: I’m from Lenox, the part of Massachusetts that people from Boston refer to as “New York.” Glad you stopped by again.

  3. Jason,
    What a journey you took me on. Great work!

    • @Pamela: Thanks so much. Glad you stopped by.

      @Julie: I can’t wait to read it. Thanks!

  4. I love this! When my semester is over, I hope to write a response!

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