A single long rambling poem. So powerful. Stay safe everyone!

WHERE I’M FROM

(a poem of remembrance, reckoning, and redemption)

by Connor Patrick Lewis

I am from Southern charm and Yankee brilliance, from a cheerleader who never could quite launch and a charming sailor whose dreams were out of reach.

From “DOH-wugs” and “DAAWwgs”, “you guys” and “y’all”, a buckeye crossed with a Georgia peach.

From debutante meets midshipman, in a storybook romance

In a college town where both were found, their fates entwined with that first dance

From a grandparent on either side who drew their comfort from a bottle

From two lines of men who when they felt hemmed in sought the solace of a throttle

I am from Christmas Eve present assembly and wrapping marathons, and mystery gifts you could only find 

By going on a scavenger hunt, and solving the clues that rhymed.

From a Green Machine, Kick ‘n’ go scooters, and banana-seated bikes by Schwinn.

From travel soccer, t-ball, and pee-wee football (even though I was small & thin),

I am from the red shag carpet where I created new worlds with Legos, matchbox cars, & the Six-Million-Dollar man

From Star Wars figures who lost their light sabers but could just use jiu-jitsu to foil the Dark side’s plan

I am from Narnia, Encyclopedia Brown, the Hardy Boys, & hours spent reading alone

From talent shows and a dance contest, doing disco moves that I learned mainly at other families’ homes.

I am from Cub Scouts and Indian Guides, which is what we called it then

From Pinewood derby cars shaped by other dad’s hands, cuz mine was gone again

I am from promises of trips to the pool–delayed as they both tried to have the last word, while Suz and I sat waiting in the car

From Shirley temples and bowls of cheddar goldfish sitting at the Bur-Mill club bar

From reel-to-reel tapes and 45s with the cool tunes of the day

From slow-dancing and doubles tennis—cuz they once knew how to play

I am from golf lessons from a scratch player who couldn’t teach for shit

From “Dammit Christopher!” and “God…. Bless America” after another wayward hit

I am from a navy officer who turned out not to be much of a gentleman, and a southern belle who didn’t always ring quite true

From verbal volleys and wordless wails, “dark morning” departures fleeing fatherhood fails

From secondhand smoke and firsthand smoke & mirrors– a disappearing dick with a dissociative bent.

From “when in doubt, don’t” (though as it turned out, he did more than a few who I doubt were really “friends”)

I am from too many empty glasses, busted panes, broken vows & shattered dreams

From visiting hours at Charter Mandala, trying to level his extremes

From get the neighbors, call the cops

“Get your father on the phone”

I am from “we have to leave” but “maybe not quite yet—I’m so scared to be alone”

I am from ”don’t you dare” and “you’re just like him” 

From hearing  “You’ve changed…” as a badge of shame (when I think that might have been an okay thing)

From “Bless her heart” and “we just gon’ pray”, to “I don’t know which way to turn,” and “AAaaaayyyyyyy”

I am from my uncle’s nonsense talk like “hence dence,” Epsom salt, and Brother Ben, 

And discovering with surprise how to feast my eyes on the cable channels in his den

From one grandfather’s exhortations to live as a friend to man,  

And the other’s quest to climb the ladder of success, but a drunken wife who foiled that plan.

I am from Grandma’s fried chicken and mac cheese on Monday nights, since most others we ate “on the go”

From cheese toast & bottled cokes, and sweet tea (except when they would try to fool me with sweet & low)

From pies of pecan or apple, cuz you can’t have too many desserts at Thanksgiving or Christmas

From broccoli casserole and Jiffy cornbread and all the covered dishes

I am from Mom’s homemade spaghetti sauce, and quiche Lorraine, and vichyssoise in fancy blue glass bowls that seemed sent straight from heaven

From pop tarts and French bread pizzas, and frying frozen burgers to slather  in Heinz 57

I am from suppers on newspaper in the living room under the glow of the cathode ray

From Different Stokes & Silver Spoons, and Fridays with Gopher and Isaac and the Love Boat Crew, then Mr. Rourke and his man Tattoo.

From Days of Our Lives (they never aged!), & Sold Gold with all the dancers & singers

From SNL (starting way too young and up way too late) with all the bits, routines, and zingers

From “Kill my landlord!” and Buckwheat, “Choppin’ broccoli” and the cat that could drive a car

To writing Lifestyles of the Pure & Righteous, and “Christmas Wherever You Are”

I am from Ducky and from Ferris, from every John Cusack character (but especially the guy with the boombox in the yard

From buddy-cop films and a secret society reading poems in the dark

I am from episcopalian formality & Methodist fervor, from Styrofoam wafers to Wednesday night suppers, and exploring my gifts with words 

From blooming late and “he procrastinates” and longing to be heard

From 11:00 service and youth choir tours and “when can I bring my own bandanna to the MYF hayride?” 

I am from Mom’s knowing looks in the balcony pews when the sermon hit us both just right

From tubing Deep Creek, rafting the Nantahala, and hiking the great smokies trails

From singing for God and pining for girls, centerstage stardom and late night fails 

I am from stolen glances & glancing blows, while tee-totaling out of fear

From tearful confessions and vows to change, and trying not to leer

I am from the clay of southwest Georgia, and the piedmont foothills too

From the heart of Bulldog country though my heart bleeds Carolina blue

I am from “family” with the knowledge that it’s a blessing and a curse

From finding that those who love you most may still have scarred you the worst

I am from a father’s love forgotten, and a Father’s love begotten

For I’ve been both left and hemmed in

From a mother who knew not what she did 

When she pulled me too far in

I am from a long line of strangers, each a prophet in the waiting

With a faith formed deep in the soul of me, from all those worlds creating

From a hope made sure by a word secure

From the only One whose heart can claim to be pure

I am from fire-forged faith—something given not earned

From an ancient source unending

From the way up yonder with a heart prone to wander

And a heart that was made for mending

WHERE I’M FROM

(a poem of remembrance, reckoning, and redemption)

by Connor Patrick Lewis

I am from Southern charm and Yankee brilliance, from a cheerleader who never could quite launch and a charming sailor whose dreams were out of reach.

From “DOH-wugs” and “DAAWwgs”, “you guys” and “y’all”, a buckeye crossed with a Georgia peach.

From debutante meets midshipman, in a storybook romance

In a college town where both were found, their fates entwined with that first dance

From a grandparent on either side who drew their comfort from a bottle

From two lines of men who when they felt hemmed in sought the solace of a throttle

I am from Christmas Eve present assembly and wrapping marathons, and mystery gifts you could only find 

By going on a scavenger hunt, and solving the clues that rhymed.

From a Green Machine, Kick ‘n’ go scooters, and banana-seated bikes by Schwinn.

From travel soccer, t-ball, and pee-wee football (even though I was small & thin),

I am from the red shag carpet where I created new worlds with Legos, matchbox cars, & the Six-Million-Dollar man

From Star Wars figures who lost their light sabers but could just use jiu-jitsu to foil the Dark side’s plan

I am from Narnia, Encyclopedia Brown, the Hardy Boys, & hours spent reading alone

From talent shows and a dance contest, doing disco moves that I learned mainly at other families’ homes.

I am from Cub Scouts and Indian Guides, which is what we called it then

From Pinewood derby cars shaped by other dad’s hands, cuz mine was gone again

I am from promises of trips to the pool–delayed as they both tried to have the last word, while Suz and I sat waiting in the car

From Shirley temples and bowls of cheddar goldfish sitting at the Bur-Mill club bar

From reel-to-reel tapes and 45s with the cool tunes of the day

From slow-dancing and doubles tennis—cuz they once knew how to play

I am from golf lessons from a scratch player who couldn’t teach for shit

From “Dammit Christopher!” and “God…. Bless America” after another wayward hit

I am from a navy officer who turned out not to be much of a gentleman, and a southern belle who didn’t always ring quite true

From verbal volleys and wordless wails, “dark morning” departures fleeing fatherhood fails

From secondhand smoke and firsthand smoke & mirrors– a disappearing dick with a dissociative bent.

From “when in doubt, don’t” (though as it turned out, he did more than a few who I doubt were really “friends”)

I am from too many empty glasses, busted panes, broken vows & shattered dreams

From visiting hours at Charter Mandala, trying to level his extremes

From get the neighbors, call the cops

“Get your father on the phone”

I am from “we have to leave” but “maybe not quite yet—I’m so scared to be alone”

I am from ”don’t you dare” and “you’re just like him” 

From hearing  “You’ve changed…” as a badge of shame (when I think that might have been an okay thing)

From “Bless her heart” and “we just gon’ pray”, to “I don’t know which way to turn,” and “AAaaaayyyyyyy”

I am from my uncle’s nonsense talk like “hence dence,” Epsom salt, and Brother Ben, 

And discovering with surprise how to feast my eyes on the cable channels in his den

From one grandfather’s exhortations to live as a friend to man,  

And the other’s quest to climb the ladder of success, but a drunken wife who foiled that plan.

I am from Grandma’s fried chicken and mac cheese on Monday nights, since most others we ate “on the go”

From cheese toast & bottled cokes, and sweet tea (except when they would try to fool me with sweet & low)

From pies of pecan or apple, cuz you can’t have too many desserts at Thanksgiving or Christmas

From broccoli casserole and Jiffy cornbread and all the covered dishes

I am from Mom’s homemade spaghetti sauce, and quiche Lorraine, and vichyssoise in fancy blue glass bowls that seemed sent straight from heaven

From pop tarts and French bread pizzas, and frying frozen burgers to slather  in Heinz 57

I am from suppers on newspaper in the living room under the glow of the cathode ray

From Different Stokes & Silver Spoons, and Fridays with Gopher and Isaac and the Love Boat Crew, then Mr. Rourke and his man Tattoo.

From Days of Our Lives (they never aged!), & Sold Gold with all the dancers & singers

From SNL (starting way too young and up way too late) with all the bits, routines, and zingers

From “Kill my landlord!” and Buckwheat, “Choppin’ broccoli” and the cat that could drive a car

To writing Lifestyles of the Pure & Righteous, and “Christmas Wherever You Are”

I am from Ducky and from Ferris, from every John Cusack character (but especially the guy with the boombox in the yard

From buddy-cop films and a secret society reading poems in the dark

I am from episcopalian formality & Methodist fervor, from Styrofoam wafers to Wednesday night suppers, and exploring my gifts with words 

From blooming late and “he procrastinates” and longing to be heard

From 11:00 service and youth choir tours and “when can I bring my own bandanna to the MYF hayride?” 

I am from Mom’s knowing looks in the balcony pews when the sermon hit us both just right

From tubing Deep Creek, rafting the Nantahala, and hiking the great smokies trails

From singing for God and pining for girls, centerstage stardom and late night fails 

I am from stolen glances & glancing blows, while tee-totaling out of fear

From tearful confessions and vows to change, and trying not to leer

I am from the clay of southwest Georgia, and the piedmont foothills too

From the heart of Bulldog country though my heart bleeds Carolina blue

I am from “family” with the knowledge that it’s a blessing and a curse

From finding that those who love you most may still have scarred you the worst

I am from a father’s love forgotten, and a Father’s love begotten

For I’ve been both left and hemmed in

From a mother who knew not what she did 

When she pulled me too far in

I am from a long line of strangers, each a prophet in the waiting

With a faith formed deep in the soul of me, from all those worlds creating

From a hope made sure by a word secure

From the only One whose heart can claim to be pure

I am from fire-forged faith—something given not earned

From an ancient source unending

From the way up yonder with a heart prone to wander

And a heart that was made for mending

One thought on “A single long rambling poem. So powerful. Stay safe everyone!

  1. So many vivid moments in your poem, that helped me to imagine the challenges you experienced growing up. I am inspired to write my own as a therapeutic release of my own past.
    Thank you for sharing so openly!

    Like

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