this was it

this was it

The first recognition I can remember for my writing was a poetry project in the eleventh grade. We had to write five poems in various styles and I got an A+ and a note from the teacher that she wanted to see me after school. She did most of the talking at that meeting. She told me I was good but I needed more work and also, I had been hiding my light under a bush and that wasn’t going to be tolerated any further. She entered me in every writing contest for high school students, ever. Local essay prizes given by The Lions Club and national short story awards, all of them. And if I didn’t turn in a completed entry to her, she would dock my grade in class. Because she could.

I won some of the things, placed in others, nothing came from a few of them. I stopped after awhile because I was sixteen and you aren’t the boss of me. I skipped more class than I attended that year. My teacher passed me even though I didn’t show up for my exams. They all passed me, that year. I don’t know why. It wasn’t a good time for me. I wish I could remember that teacher’s name.

I wrote the following poem a couple of weeks ago as part of a class exercise. I wrote it in one go, in about ten minutes. If there is something you are good at and you enjoy doing it, you should try to get more of it in your life.

Where I’m From*

I am from…

Bless your heart; butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth; buck dancin’ champions of 1966

I am from…

Social climbing car salesman and a Seven & Seven; All night poker games with the grocery money

I am from…

Momma, look at me; tougher than I look; suck it up, buttercup; Momma said knock you out; too stubborn to quit and too ignorant to know I should

I am from…

MTV and your pizza delivered in thirty minutes or it’s free; Seventeen Magazine and dates old enough to drink and bumps of cocaine in the club bathroom

I am from…

The Buffalo Creek Missionary Baptist Church; skinny black ties and blazing white short-sleeved dress shirts; two hour sermons and dinner on the ground

I am from…

Fugitive Irishmen and freed slaves; The Trail of Tears and the last rebel holdouts

I am from…

Sonny Buck and Beulah and Teapot Willie; diabeetus and down in his back and self-inflicted gunshot wounds

I am from…

Cross burners and Freedom Riders; hard questions and difficult answers

I am from…

Louisa May Alcott in a gilt-edged edition, bought with Green Stamps at the Piggly-Wiggly; Shakespeare and the King James Bible; Eudora Welty and Nancy Drew

 

I am from…

Casseroles and rides to chemo; Walking my dog and envelopes stuffed with cash and left on the kitchen counter

I am from…

A love, fierce and divine and did the best they knew how

 

 

 

*The Where I’m From poem series is an ongoing project of George Lyon. You can read more about it here¬†and learn how to write your own. Try it. You won’t be graded.