Every year I teach a lesson on writing “Where I’m From” poems inspired by George Ella Lyons. The format is very simple, yet can convey complex thoughts, emotions, and relationships. It can be a powerful way to express ourselves through the special moments, places  and people in our lives, and recognize how they have shaped us.

Here is my poem:


I am from small, dark, cramped quarters,
Five to a bed, huddled together against the
Cold and uncertain future.
Monsters in my bed, dad’s at the door.
He found us again. Time to move on.

I am from friends, photos, and
Memories left behind,
The detritus of a life
Racing forward at a dizzying pace
Toward an unknowable future.

I am from poker parties by candlelight
‘Cause the lights are out again,
Mayonnaise sandwiches shared five ways,
A feast on the dirty carpet.
“We ain’t got much, but we’ve got each other”

I am from Richie, Louisa, Geri, and Angel
Because we still have each other.

I am from “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”
Secrets kept and secrets revealed,
New love found and old wounds healed,
Doors opened wide and horizons beckoning,
The world expanding.

I am from a house at the edge of the woods
Where crickets chirp and deer and turkey amble by,
Frogs hop merrily from lily pad to lily pad
As barefoot children laugh and
gambol through the cool green grass.

I am from a sleepy village
Where the breeze off the river clears your mind
And friends warm your heart.
Thirty miles from where I grew up yet worlds away
I am home.