Poems from Karmen Bell’s education class in Arkansas! Full of images and stories…

September 1, 2022

The following “I Am From” poems reflect the voices and experiences from K-6 teacher candidates from the University of Arkansas. The authors are seniors enrolled in a writing methodology course where I introduced the project on the first day of class. 

We engaged in the “I Am From” writing activity to provide an opportunity for all students (and myself) to reflect and present the diversity of experiences among us. In addition to encouraging us to explore how we are similar and how we differ, as an introductory activity, I also hoped that the “I Am From” poem experience would serve as an impetus for fostering a community of learning.

Enjoy!

Kindest regards,

Karmen V. Bell

I am from backyard swings 

From the red birthday plate and dora dvds

I am from the concrete steps my dad fell through

And hot pink walls on which I drew

I am from tall trees

Whose limbs screamed for me to climb

I am from glasses and football passes

From Orf and Dowell

From loud yells and christmas smells

And from large family gatherings

I am from young love

I am from Mawmaw Sandy and Papa Floyd

From egg noodles and christmas cookie doodles

From small town fairs and friday night affairs 

I am from loads of family pictures, stowed away so nicely, for the nights I wallow in their glory

I am from those moments where we danced until we wouldn’t, laughed when we shouldn’t, and hugged for when we couldn’t

Sierra G

I Am From Project

I am from the old rusty beer cans that line our basement walls that my granddaddy and my daddy built,

From the busted out, broken speaker that played its last song one notch too loud and the door that never opens without a creak

Next to the light blue house off to the right of Barkley street

I am from the Bradford pear trees with the budding limbs

Whose leaves sprawl around the bend to the bench where the man in the orange cap sits

I am from the long dirt roads that never end and the lonesome whistle when momma calls me home

From Harvey and Jane

From ruthless combat at the dining table and followed by sour taste of words wished unspoken

And from the sweet home-made ice cream that softened our wounds

I am from driven religious words whom get spoken by high and mighty horsemen who wouldn’t be able to relate to the most noble man

I am from fighters and lovers 

From champions and thieves 

I am from sweet pumpkin pie on thanksgiving morning and the harsh reality from the night before 

I am from  condescension and hypocrisy where a lending hand meets his toughest foe

I am from sincerity and humility

I am from love and loyalty 

I am from truth and lies

I am from where I stand

I am from who I decide to become

J. W.

 I am from home videos on VHS tapes,

From bike riding, plushies, and barbies galore.

I am from a red brick house that sits next to my cousin’s house,

And a big green field in between our homes that was perfect for playing on.

I am from blueberry bushes that gave our neighborhood its name,

Whose blueberries we’d pick and enjoy.

I am from children’s books and Disney movies I’d read and watch in English and Spanish,

From Los Davila (my father’s side) and Los Cadena (my mother’s side).

From dark hair, brown eyes and the gossip or “chisme” we can’t keep to ourselves,

And from 16-hour car drives to spend the holidays with our extended family.

I am from Padre Nuestro que estas en el cielo/Our father, who art in heaven,

I am from Ofelia and Manuela.

From carne asadas and mole con arroz,

From the well-known mountain in Monterrey that my grandfather climbed in its entirety.

I am from family gatherings with food, drinks, and music we never fail to have,

I am from those moments of celebration and family unity.

Anahi Francis

Where I’m From By Catherine Hornor 

I am from wooden pencils from fireflies and chlorine. 

I am from family dinners. 

And couch covers (colorful with stains), 

I am from dog hair that smells of swimming. 

I am from bare feet running on green grass

From Charlene and Tully

From “How was school?” and “Where’s mom?”

And from lake days that turned into long weekends 

I am from Christmas in Colorado 

I am from Gail and Mary

From coffee and blueberry muffins 

From my father’s hometown that only lives in stories 

I am from family photos every fall, birthday dinners for the cousins, and winter trips to visit the other set of grandparents

I am from those moments-

happy for the life lived and eager for life to come. 

Catherine Hornor 

I Am From

I am from red couches,

from black labs and tabby cats.

I am from days spent in the pool,

and evening golf cart rides. 

I am from redbirds and hydrangeas,

whose petals bloomed pink, purple, and blue.

I am from learning to swing a golf club from Dad,

and the smell of mom’s perfume on Sunday morning.

From Campbell and Cook.

From “keep smiling” and “I love you more.”

From Fourth of July barbecues.

I am from baptisms in lakes and little red rivers.

I am from Verma Lou and Julia Ann.

From chocolate gravy and deep-fried turkey.

From air force planes my Grandad repaired.

I am from a hallway of pictures full of people I love

I am from those moments –

laughing around the dining room table,

playing that board game for the millionth time. 

Carly Campbell

I Am From

I am from playgrounds,

from princess couches, and popcorn barrels.

I am from spackled walls painted a fiery shade of orange

and a gold-plated fireplace.

I am from strawberry bushes

whose vines weaved through the yard.

I am from bicycles and trampolines,

from Gary and Sarah.

From waving fingers and endless games of Skipbo.

And from weekends spent in the chilled November air.

I am from Christmas programs and Amazing Grace.

I am from John and Jackie,

chocolate chip cookies and ham with beans.

From the homestead built during the time of the long depression.

I am from the cedar chest that holds the photographs that captured life as we knew it,

            cherishing those memories forever.

I am from those moments – 

Singing from the heart,

and dancing through the kitchen.

Haley Beaver

I Am From

I am from hog hats, 

from non-fragrance soap and clear laundry detergent. 

I am from the pink and green room in the red brick house, 

and the backyard garden. 

I am from onions, carrots, and potatoes 

whose seeds were planted and cared for. 

I am from McDonalds happy meal toys and barbie movies, 

from Chuck and Lisa. 

From “what did you learn today?” and “tell me something good” 

From a family of farmers and hard workers 

and from Christmas mornings at Mamaw’s house waiting to see what Santa left by the fireplace. 

I am from Sunday mornings in big church. 

I am from Charles and Laurel, 

from green jello fluff and hot dogs on the grill. 

From my dad’s new job in sunny California and back to Arkansas where we belong.  

I am from the bookshelves overflowing with scrapbooks full of our favorite family memories.  

A constant reminder of where we have been and where we can go.  

I am from those moments-

hugging my blankey and dancing around the house on a hot summer afternoon.  

Emma Tilmon 

I am From

I am from training wheeled bikes,

From pledge and treehouses.

I am from the brick house on the edge of the woods,

And the windy roads with steep hills. 

I am from the witch tree, 

Whose branches jagged yet steady held me from the world. 

I am from yellow Nancy Drew books and zebra print dresses.

I am from Gale and Sharon E. 

From stubbornness and crooked teeth.

From the White Elephant statue, infamous yet loved. 

I am from peace be with you, 

From “and many more” sung after every birthday song. 

I am from Betty and Irene,

From Oberle sausage and chocolate sheet cake.

I am from the walls of Nana’s house,

The boxes under beds,

Moments hidden in attics,

Rewound through VHS tapes 

That Document first steps and birthdays, 

Bike rides and holidays. 

I am from those moments spent in the rain every July 29th 

-Abby V.

I am From

I am from the dinner table,

from chalk and rollerblades.

I am from sturdy red brick.

(Familiar, warm,

close to everything I know.)

I am from the field where the wildflowers grow

whose ground carried the wheels of my bike on my way to school.

I am from family dinners and evening soccer practices,

from Joseph and Marie.

From the people watchers

and the constant talkers,

from decorating the tree on Black Friday instead of buying.

I’m from the reverent chapel

with comfortable choral hymns

at midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

I am from the family recipes my Nona passed down to my mother,

the handyman skills my grandpa taught to my father,

from homemade tomato sauce and manicotti.

From remnants of memories drifting away from my grandfather’s view.

I am from the worn photo albums

that line the shelf in my closet,

holding my first breath,

my first steps,

the cherished times spent traveling Europe with my family.

I am from these images,

frozen but living on through stories told at the dinner table.

Emmy T

I am from licking the bowl, from nights spent with Momma in the kitchen

From the sound of dogs barking and the cheering for sports teams  

I am from a life full of “save money live better”, Saturday morning meetings

and the swing on the front porch.

I am from lakes

whose water is the glue to our family adventures

I am from family reunions and singing around the piano 

From Jon and Becky

From competitive natures and those who would give you the shirt off their back

And from Christmas Eve presents.

I am from Acts 2:38, Jesus loves you, and the Golden Rule.

I am from Carter and Wagner

From homemade chicken and dumplings and the always popular “Gary brownies”

From Grandma and Grandpa’s bibles, which were highlighted from front to back.

I am from the large bin of old pictures that we hold so dear, reliving the memories of those lived before us. 

I am from those moments, where hugs were the best form of therapy and the words “I love you” were and will always be ringing in my ears.

Lexi C.

Where I’m From

I am from a red door,

From basketballs and books.

I am from a maroon recliner,

Where my father would sit.

I am from corn fields,

Whose stalks reach to the sky.

I am from long road trips,

Spending hours watching the corn speed by.

I am from the apple tree in my GiGi’s backyard,

And the 50¢ per apple we would receive.

I am from deviled eggs and soft pretzels with cheese.

From Jennifer and Jamison,

From “you are not on Goshen road,” and “I blew my engine”

From spending weekends in my great grandma’s pool,

And from camping every summer with cousins.

I am from kickball in the backyard.

All of the neighborhood hang outs.

Evenings spent on the playset.

Nights spent on my grandma’s porch swing.

Infinite trips to Dairy Sweet

I am from late night drives to nowhere.

I am from downtown trips,

From the world’s best coney dogs.

I am from a small town,

Where I could walk anywhere

And grow however I wanted to.

-Alexah

Where I’m From

I am from the ‘dog’s only’ sofa in our living room, 

from warm and cozy and a thousand wishes. 

I am from a big circle drive and the sound of kids riding bikes. 

I am from cedar trees 

Whose roots cry for water in the Texas summer heat. 

I am from the patterns of Island Blooms and Grace’s wooden scooter. 

From Joan and Jane,

From open arms and early mornings,

And from summer road trips to the beach. 

I am from Christmas Eve midnight service.

I am from Bridgette and Roger, 

From homemade corn dip and store bought fritos. 

From Papa Roger’s last few words.

I am from my Mother’s office built-ins.

I am from those moments of cramming into mom’s bed on Christmas Eve.

Sarah M. ❤

Where I’m From

By Silvia Alarcón-Padron

I am from homemade birthday cakes,

from piñatas in the front yard and a small home overflowing with cousins singing “♪Feliz

cumpleaños a ti, feliz cumpleaños a ti♪”

I am from a 1985 brown and tan Chevy Van and a 1999 Chevy Suburban with a Uhaul trailer attachment,

from hundreds of miles traveled.

I am from apartments, a basement, a trailer home, and even a 2-week stay at a homeless 

shelter

I am from the willow tree across the street from our first home purchased whose long branches 

held my weight as I swung against the wind

I am from the sunspots on my mother’s hands, the coffee on her breath hours before dawn,

from the coarse hands of my father who made us breakfast after working 12 hours.

I am from the fruit and vegetable fields in California who took my parents’ health,

from, “mas sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo,” or “the devil knows more from old age than 

from being the devil,” words my mother would sputter.

I am from carne asadas at the lake,

enchiladas rojas, menudo, and sopes on Sundays.

I am from a photo album nestled in my mother’s closet with my name scribbled inside,

that documented my parents’ everlasting love for my siblings and I.

I am from those moments – the fight for a better tomorrow and the promise of an easier life lived.

I am From

I am from bee hives, 

From red bricks and fresh cut grass.

I am from candles crackling in every room,

(whose scent and soft crackles are endless)

And wooden clocks chiming on the dot of every hour.

I am from pine trees and hanging ferns,

Whose pine cones covered the yard like leaves.

I am from rosaries and crucifixes,

From waking up early for mass every Sunday morning. 

I am from Necessary’s and Little’s,

From rooster collections in the kitchen, 

And long road trips squished for hours.

I am from to make it a great day or not the choice is yours.

I am from Jimmy and Marilyn,

From Grandma’s pound cake melting in your mouth, 

And Grandpa’s butter piled on top of every cookie.

From my Grandpa’s antique gas pump collection.

I am from white wooden cabinets holding photo albums of old family memories,

Torn edges from time,

Photos scattered from childhood play.

I am from those moments, 

joy and laughter while gathered around the dinner table. 

Julia Necessary

Where I’m From

I am from the porch swing,

from snuggle dryer sheets and tide pods.

I am from an endless struggle with weeds in the front yard,

and all the neighborhood children playing in the creek.

I am from the maple tree,

whose limbs shaded me and filled me with memories of my granddaddy.

I am from watermelon and haybells,

from Ira and Elisene,

from road trips and family reunions,

and from “Oh darlin’, bless your heart!”

I am from “have a blessed day” and “by God’s grace.”

I am from Jo Ellen and Billy Bob.

From spaghetti and dumplings.

From high school sweethearts married after graduation.

I am from the cabinet by the fireplace where our photoalbums rest.

I am from those moments where we all rest together,

even when life moves us away.

Amber Stanfield

Where I’m From

By Morgan Evans

I am from great grandma’s cookie jar,

From beloved blankets and library books.

I am from the swing set in my grandparent’s backyard.

(Swaying, tall,

Offering an escape from my daily routine.)

I am from the willow tree

whose graceful branches canopied around me

 creating a new world.

I’m from scraped knees and the house at the end of the cul-de-sac,

From Marlys and Robert.

I’m from “Find the good in everyone” and

‘Look people in the eye when you speak.”

I’m from trying new foods on every vacation.

I’m from Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep

a prayer I said every night as a child.

I’m from Anna Diotte and Gerald Ballard,

gingersnap cookies and coffee cake.

From the arm my uncle broke one winter on a snow mobile in Iowa.

In a drawer tucked away in the guest bedroom of my new house is a collection of scrapbooks,

Fading but ever present

like the love we hold for one another.

Where I’m From

I am from pink Barbie bicycles,

from worn down baby dolls and expensive baby strollers.

I am from a cul-de-sac full of kids playing outside,

And parents catching up after work.

I am from growing trees and blooming gardens,

Whose personality of gold shimmers.

I am from used Crayola crayons and craft tables.

From Connie and Trevor,

From comedians and hard workers,

And from yearly family trips to cut down a Christmas tree.

I am from family gatherings at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas after church.

I am from Grandpa Rene and Grandma Nancy.

From homemade tamales and all Mexican food.

From sweaty hot family golf tournaments.

I am from the bookshelves built into the living room walls filled with life long memories.

I am from those moments of being surrounded with love from friends and family.

–                 Taylor C

Where I’m From

I am from dirty muck boots stacked by the door. 

From Hocus Pocus Spray and clorox wipes. 

I am from the little blue house at the top of a hill.

And a red faced turkey house; which housed farm animals of all kinds.

I am from the wild cherry tree

Whose ability to survive is inspiring.

I am from stock trailers and papaw’s recliner.

From Gilmer & Horn

From never being wrong and “over yonder”.

And from the chaotic family photos which we took every holiday. 

I am from Christmas lights and reindeer lined down the driveway.

From the garden fresh blackberries and seven layered salad.

I am from the boot box stored in the top of my closet. Contained inside are memories I hold dear. The pictures, ribbons and papers of my childhood are found in this box.

I am from those moments playing Uno with my siblings while we wait for our turn in the show ring. 

                                                                                                             Jordan Horn

I am from bonfires in the fire pit

From artificial Christmas trees and bicycles

I am from the old house in town

And it always seemed to have too many plants

I am from young fruit trees

Whose fruit was always too bitter to eat

I am from Cameras and movies

From Joe and Martha

From curly toes and wondering but not lost

And from gathering for every birthday despite the obstacles

I am from long Sundays in church

I am from Granny Eva and Gran from the Douglas side

From mashed potatoes and green beans aunt Martha’s way

From taunting alligators in the Arkansas river

I am from Picture trunks tucked in closets

I am from those moments sliding across hard wood floors.

Allie Dempsey

I am From

I am from black leather jackets

From MP3 players and Neapolitan ice cream

I am from 70’s wallpaper in the dining room (with sunflowers and peelings coming off the wall)

And oil-stained driveways with children riding bicycles

I am from tall hills that are covered in snow screaming at me to sled down them into their fields below

I am from pigtails and overalls

From the Forest’s and Cordts’s

From “a champagne appetite on a beer budget” and “if you can’t say something nice don’t say it all” and from Christmas eve church services

I am from “Come Lord Jesus be our Guest let this food to us be blessed”

I am from Mammy and Mama Grace

From corn casserole and barbeque ribs

I am from my mother leaving home at 16 and from my father’s hands that strummed his first guitar

I am from my grandmother’s hallway wall that hangs pictures of each one of her grandchildren and children, from numerous photo albums stacked in a cabinet with loved ones whose memory is captured through film

I am from those moments… with a pink bunny blanket and a Night Night Bear

                                                                        Jessica Forest

I am from the piano in the living room, from Barbie dolls and princess costumes.

I am from the red brick hose my brother and I named “Rosie”.

And the man who looked like Santa down the street, I am from the big oak tree in our front yard

Whose presence signified youth and innocence.

I am from birds chirping, dogs barking, and Nat King Cole playing softly in the kitchen.

I am from gum ball machines and khaki shorts,

From Freeman and Krivanek,

From stubbornness and loyalty,

From “Make the world a better place” and “I’m so proud of you”,

And from listening to Elvis Christmas while decorating the Christmas tree.

I am from the candlelight service Christmas Eve.

I am Jennifer and Jason,

From my uncle up in heaven,

From goulash, midnight cereal, and pickles,

From when my aunt became a widow at forty-two.

I am from Little Elm to Frisco, to dog walks and recitals, to Rumikube and the year of Christmas

Minute-to-Win-It games.

I am from those moments the piano was my best friend and escape – a place of refuge and peace.

I am who my family made me, with no regrets.

Just happy memories.

Chloe Freeman

Where I’m From

I am from a rocking chair that we’ve had since I was born

From the static radio and just dance

I am from a red brick home with pink siding

And wild animals just outside our back door

I am from the wooded area in my backyard

Whose filled with conversations between animal friends

I am from softball jerseys and swimsuits

From my mom and dad

From dancing in the livingroom and sarcastic comments between me and my dad

And from Christmas day at my home with the entire family

I am from a breakfast of champions (chocolate cake)

I am from Grandpa Chris and Great Grandma Miller

From fresh blueberry pie and homemade biscuits and gravy

From curse words when a project goes wrong

I am from family vacation to Beaver Lake every first week of august

I am from these moments combined, a silly and fun family full of love.

Alyssa Meyer

Where I’m From

I am from fedoras

From spools of thread and scrapbooks

I am from giggling and sidewalk chalk

And red cardinals

I am from fresh cut grass and peonies

Where we play in the sun

I am from sweet tea and Campbell’s soup

From Matt and Kristin

From 5’3” and Rickansrud eyes

And from “the presentation of the griddle”

I am from the candlelight service

I am from Poppop and Uncle Kev

From lefse and caramels

From fighting alzheimers

I am from 304, 165, and 593

I am from those moments where we yelled “Uff Da!” and gave thanks for all the “good stuff”

Reannon Ray

I Am From

I am from tile floors,

From bunk beds and dog beds.

I am from the cozy home nestled within the hills

And totem poles overlooking the lake.

I am from the front yard red bud tree

Whose limbs have remained constant through the triumphs, despair, and mundane.

I am from red wagons and orange pants.

I am from the smell of sawdust,

A perpetual feature of the garage turned wood shop

From the Cannons and the Stricklands.

From extra loud laughter and extra food on all occasions.

I am from “Don’t get butterflies; get jets”

From “Always be kind, for we never know what another may be going through.”

I am from cereal for dinner

From Biscuits and gravy on Sundays.

And cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.

I am from Grandma Opal Mae and Grandpa Larry.

From horse barns and donut barns.

I am from those moments, gathered around the campfire

Filled with warmth and love on crisp nights on the creekside.

Kyndall S.

Where I Am From

I am from a spatula

From baskets of towels and sunny backyards

I am from a big yellow house with plentiful rooms

And a warm, lived-in kitchen with the smell of garlic

I am from overgrown willow trees

Whose long branches stretch to shade my car

I am from oversized couches and large TVs

From Sullivan and Sweet

I’m from calling each other nicknames and get-togethers on Sundays

From “ope” and “turn it off” when we begin to lose the game

I’m from lazy Sundays

I am from Grandma Brandel and Sully

I’m from St. Louis pizza with Provel, and Italian food on The Hill

From the great big move Grandma Brandel did to see us grow up

I am from the built-in bookshelves with pictures, art, things

That can never hold enough memories

Juliana Sweet

I Am From

I am from home cooking

From Kitchenaid and Jenn-Air appliances that make magic happen

I am from an ordinary three-bedroom house that is extraordinary in every way, warm hugs at the door, delicious food on the table, an inanimate brick house that makes people never want to leave and beckons them back time and time again

I am from a way-too-big koi pond and tall oak trees weakened by mistletoe

I’m from the expectation of spending the holidays together no matter where you live in the world and constant laughter

From the Joneses and the Wimbreys

I’m from a family that is built by love not blood and never-ending food and fellowship

From “Who’s child are you?” and “Failure to plan is planning to fail.”

I’m from shouts of “Amen” and “Hallelujah” in the southern Baptist church

I’m equally from Fort Worth and “down home” east Texas

From Philadelphia Cream Cheese pound cakes better than any professional could dream of and Granny’s signature chicken and dumplings and cornbread dressing

From Mama Jones who lived to over 100 years in her right mind and the strength of my father who fought cancer for four years

My life story is captured inside framed photos and photo albums that sit upon shelves and tables

Who I am lives scattered about a house but is proudly displayed as a symbol of how much I am loved.

KVB

Here is an short, delightful poem by Daysia Wood. She has done a video at the end of the poem to go along with it !

I Am From…

By Daysia Wood

I am from flickering screens, concrete dreams, police sirens, and pitched screams.

I am from chicken soup, ribs falling off the bone, eggs in the morning, chocolate in the snow

I am from “do it yourself”, “forgive and let go”, “hard head makes a soft behind”, “lock up before you roll”

I am from philosophers like Malcolm X, poets like Maya Angelou, and pacifists like Dr. King

I am from the Ville, 910, where the birds fly as high as a dreaming child unconvinced that gravity exists as the jump rope skips.

I Am From Poem

Here is a single poem by Shannon Holliday. It captures so much, images, story, language. Enjoy!

Where I’m From 

I am from cast iron skillets.

From mason jars and canning salt. 

I am from snow tracked inside

(melting, puddling;

come warm your hands by the fire).

I am from sassafras, from timothy grass

Hay fresh cut and drying.

I am from cinnamon rolls and good stock. 

From Mary Lola and Gertrude Lula.

I am from the old ways and my way or the highway.

I am from God is Love and women who run with the wolves.

I am from the “Mon” and Corbin Branch,

Ambrosia and applesauce.

From dad was one of seven and mom was one of four, 

And too many cousins, so we all got called by another’s name.

I am from the attic and the barn, the stones we gathered at the creek bed. 

I am from the tree that held the rope swing, rural with deep roots. 

–      Shannon Holliday (2/4/20)

Welcome to a new I Am From poem with a wonderful introduction by Hardi Patel about how it came to be…marvelous!

Hello Everyone!

My name is Hardi Patel and I am headed to grade 10 this September. At the beginning of last semester, for my grade 9 English Class, I was asked to create an “I Am From” poem. This was such a fun and insightful project; I really enjoyed it. You can view my class’ published poems here:( https://iamfromproject.com/2022/03/29/tina-chivers-class-from-niagara-falls-ontario-has-sent-another-group-of-marvelous-poems-enjoy/ )! As well as that, we read the novel, Dear Martin, by Nic Stone as a class. This book was terrific and was so phenomenal! It was filled with hard truths and a lot of emotion. It showcased the truth about how racism affects people every day and how sometimes we don’t even notice it’s there. We spent the whole unit focused on the important question, “Are all men created equal?” Then later, at the end of the semester, I was asked to write a media piece about Dear Martin; I chose to write an I Am From poem from the perspective of the main character, Justyce McAllister. 

If you have read Dear Martin, then I hope this poem allows you to reconnect to the story and see yourself in this character’s shoes again. If you haven’t read it, I hope this poem gives you a helpful overview and urges you to read this novel. 

I Am From – Justyce’s Perspective

By: Hardi Patel 

I am from a bad neighborhood with just me and my mom

From learning to go right rather than wrong

I am from learning to trust even if their skin is white

From learning to fight with words for my rights

I am from playing video games with my best friend Manny 

From debating with SJ and going to Blake’s terrible parties

I am from being on and off with Melo 

And from me and Jared sharing only a small “hello”

I am from almost always listening to my Mama

And from getting caught up with Jared and Blake’s drama. 

From trying to make it to the top, even when Trey always feels the need to tell me, “Mr. Smarty Pants”, to stop

I am from always knowing I can go up to Doc

And from realizing showing compassion is just one drop

From realizing no matter how hard I try, I won’t be able to let those cold metal handcuffs fly

I am from learning Castillo’s dead, but it never mattered

From the cold metal cuffs still being felt by me in the shower

I am from understanding, there will always be jerks

And from learning it doesn’t matter and not to assume the worst

From late-night conversations with SJ when there’s no need to pretend

And from making mistakes I can learn from, in the end

I am from asking Martin for some guidance 

And from not letting my voice rest in the silence 

I am from learning to say my words and fight with peace

From understanding my life isn’t missing a puzzle piece

I am from figuring out, they aren’t trying to be insensitive; based on where they came from, it just comes out. 

I am from learning to forgive just like Martin would

From making it clear that, “it’s aight we good”

I am from believing no one should be alone 

From everyone should have somewhere to call home

I am from finding out that compassion will win again and again opinions aside  

I am from learning, just like Martin said, we should all be kind and look for what’s on the inside

I am from trying always to look at people and understand 

From trying to answer the big question, “are all men really created equal in the end?”

By: Hardi Patel

— 

Anyssa McCalla brings us this longer version of her beautiful poem…happy summer!

I am From 

Anyssa McCalla 

I am from green grass and deep soil

From the long lines of tired hard workers 

Who made life happen even when they couldn’t

Great-Grandmother, Grandmother, and Mommy

Who broke their backs trying to survive as single black mothers

I am from Great-grandmother. 

She escaped the south to live up north. 

made a farm for her children and great-grandchildren.  

Owned a fish truck and gas station became entrepreneurs for the family.

She broke curses with her bare hands and gave us love to withstand in the world’s way. 

Gave us sharpshooters, blue jeans, and cowboy boots. 

Making us stay true to our southern roots.

I am from Grandmother. 

Most educated in her class but dropped out early due to the lack of money.

Worked in the family farm and high school lunches trying to keep ends up.

She had never seen her father since age sixteen and couldn’t see him buried.

Mother of nine children but eventually becoming the mother of 8 living children.

“Eat your dinner and go to bed early; maybe we can see some horses in the morning.”

Telling me stories of life and great drives to the lake

Left wondering what life could’ve been.

I am from Mommy 

High school dropout due to lack of money.

Broken homes and crazy families, She took care of it all.

Survival is all she knew, never dreamt because it wouldn’t come true.

She never knew her father but met his new family in her 30s at his wake.

Stress is all she knows and fighting for her children is all she can do.

Telling me the lost tales of life and staying true to the black roots.

Left wondering what life could’ve been.

I am from Dad

An immigrant from Jamaica who came here to have something new.

He gave me the best stories and Jamaican tales.

Reggae songs that made a culture.

Burying his father at a young age, fearing that he could not see his best days.
A dreamer and traveler whose passport is stamped in places I’ve never thought about.

Seen presidents and been inside of the White House.

A construction worker who retired early. 

Never left wondering of what life could have been.

I am daughter

I am from high school dropouts and realist vs dreamers.

I am from old country folks and new-age storytellers.

I am a dreamer and lover.

I am the sister of 5 on my mom’s side and three on my dad’s.

Burying my father at 17 and still trying to make peace here at 19.

I am from deep memories in farms, cities, and hectic homes.

I am from trying to save the family and keep the peace.. 

I am southern at heart, and Jamaican blood runs in me.

I am a creative woman who loves dancing, traveling, and fighting for what is right.

Lover of writing, reading, adventures, and music

I am a deep thinker and believer in good things 

I am from Connecticut trees, Southern Roots, and Jamaican love.

I am a first-generation college student.

I am Anyssa McCalla.





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