Monday, April 14, 2014

Slice of Life - Where I'm From

Join me and others writers who post weekly Slices of Life, each Tuesday, throughout the year at the Two Writing Teachers website.  Today's slice is an assignment I gave my poetry group in my class. It is inspired by the poem Where I'm From by George Ella Lyon. See his poem and website at I'm excited to hear the Where I'm From poems written by my students and a little scared to share mine.

Where I'm From 
by Max Maclay

I am from the mountains,
Tall, green and piney,
Whispering in the wind,
Bright in the moonlight
And dark as space.
From orange lichen-covered rocks
Scraping my knees, and thighs.
Bloody red sacrifices to stand King.

I am from the city,
Silver spires shooting high,
Crowded, noisy, smelly,
Bike paths, music, broken glass
And Red lights.
Green lights too.

I am from brown and dusty cornfields,
Pick-up trucks, apple pie, cowboys hats,
Predicting the rain,
And Friday Night Lights.
I did not belong there,
But now I am from there,
And it lives in me.

I am from my parents' love.
Showing me courage, 
How to grow,  
To do Right, even when it's hard.
How to do it wrong
And keep moving on.

I am from divorced parents,
Three step-moms,
Only one "evil"
(and she saved my life.)
Bonus parents, bonus moms, bonus presents, 
Bonus love.

I am from blueberry buttermilk pancakes on Sunday,
Gingerbread Men, Christmas cookies, 
And stale candy snitched from the gingerbread house.
I am from grilled meat, baseball on TV, 7UP in the hammock
And inappropriate use of pepperoni before a trip.

I am from a classroom and a school
Games, puzzles and wordplay,
Puns, jokes and cake on the first Tuesday of the month.
A recipe shared, 
Again and again and again.

I am from the doctor's office,
Sadly supportive, finding the bright side, optimistic.
Trying for six years,

I am from another damn baby shower,
Another damn pink baby announcement,
Another damn fake smile,
Another batch of misplaced and uncontrollable resentment.

I am from the delivery room
Praising modern science
Responsible for more than I ever imagined.
I am one-for-three

I am from the deeds undone,
Letters unwritten, 
Hugs missed,
Apologies unsung.

I am from altitude's thin air, 
Snatching my breath before I'm done,
So high, the earth curves away,
The colors impossible.

I am from the mountains.


  1. your life just flashed before my eyes! :-) I can't really pick just one image here! I enjoyed this whole piece, though I did particularly note the lines about stepmoms, "only one evil, She saved my life". That just got me somehow, the juxtaposition there

  2. Beautiful - I especially liked the baby shower stanza. You show great honesty in your writing.

  3. This is fantastic Max! It is an honest, detailed poem of where you are from. I love the way you weave so many areas of your life together so beautifully. The divorce, dr office and baby shower stanzas are very powerful...and touching in different ways. Thanks for sharing with us today!

  4. Don't know how I missed reading your blog during March SOL, but your "Where I'm From" poem pulled me in this morning. My favorite stanza - "I am from parents' love." Then I meandered your blog for too many minutes - so easy to get sidetracked by my friends at Two Writing Teachers. It's fun to discover other middle school teachers. Your school sounds similar to Linda's school. I'm envious!

    1. Ramona - My school is Linda's school! I've been blessed to work with Linda for the last seven years. Thank you for your kind comments.

  5. I love "Where I'm From" poems. Yours is so full. There is so much there. I, like Amy, am intrigued by the evil step mom that saved your life. Your baby shower stanza made me sad. That must be so frustrating. Thanks for sharing an honest and powerful memoir poem.

  6. Funny how many times I shared all of your blog links, & still they were missed, Max! This is beautiful, like others said above, a perfect weaving of a life, complex with celebration and with sadness, too. That's life, I guess, and you showed it like a picture! The students will love it. I hope they enjoy writing their own, too!