Where I Am From When I Am Tired

I am from white hot baths to boil out demons in the dark, from Drum tobacco rolled soft in the back of bars, and from the exhausting longevity of post-church afternoons when the burning proved futile.

I am from the basement bedroom where I knelt over the work of words, a clumsy introversion, a hope, the hard carpet dimpling my knees and elbows with red, hot divots.

I am from the hard roots of northern pines beneath the seeming poison aglow in dogwood fruit, the clean snap of branches above the hollow thump of footfall on root-caverned earth.

I am from generations of oppositional obedience and denial of disbelief, from Nellie and Jill and the ones who ran.

I am from declarations of social affection and a paucity of intimate confession.

From impositions to smile through the pain and assertions that it was best to hide when the spirit could not comply.

I am from rote prayers while the game's on mute, love for our limited allies, and the hidden cell of a heart that could not confess against the beat of its tides.

I am from a tidy suburban crescent, the layered archeology of weekly casseroles, and pilfered boxes of favourite crackers, sneaked under the basement stairs to be sucked clean in the dark.

From the sister once lost and never allowed the dignity of her own narrative, the mother who was never let in, and the well-played pantomime of a compliant child.

I am from notebooks and binders, napkins and the backs of Hallmark cards, the compendium of my youth's exhaustion, the consumption that still traces my movements, even now, a Peter Pan shadow, if it could only be so easily slipped with a bit of Wendy's soap.


George Ella Lyons' poem "Where I'm From" inspired Fred First Floyd's form, which I used here, and which Alexandra Rosas re-inspired me to use again.

I also used this form in June 2011 for "Where I Was From When I Was Seven: Bearing Down Upon The Buoy and then in February 2013 for "Where I Was From When I Was Twenty-One (The Nostalgic Possession of Ghosts)".