January 29

Where I’m From


George Ella Lyons is a Kentucky poet whose original “Where I’m From” poem has been incredibly successful, copied by many students and would-be poets everywhere.  I couldn’t resist adding my own version.  (Look her up–she’s wonderful.)
I am from a teetotaler and a flag waver; a drummer boy from Boston
and a Pennsylvania farm girl salty tears lonely.
I am from pen pals and he proposed before they met
and a match made with postage stamps.

I am from foot washing, camp fires, Christians called “Dunkards”
and a boy who walked me two miles home and back.
I am from a disabled vet with a broken body
and Jesus is the Great Physician.

I am from “You’re not any better but you’re just as good”
and “Don’t play with fire or you’ll get burned.”
I’m from a two-bedroom house on Sunday Street and
the Johnstown Flood which happened again.

I am from steel mills and a city bus
Saturday rides to the downtown library.
I am from a writer-dreamer with no place to write and the girl
who was told “You don’t need college, you’re just a woman.”

I am from both – the dreamer and the disappointed farm girl
The quilt-maker and the weaver of words
who weave their dreams in me.

January 20

New Member Welcome Guide

I guess I’ve learned the hard way how not to join a church. Being a bit naive and self-confident, I assumed that being a Christian, it should be easy to walk in a church, attend services and a small group, and be accepted. Trust me in this, in case you’ve been in a church all your life (the same one, that is), it’s not that easy. The thing is, you’ve got to be humble. Humble and patient. I don’t think I get high marks in either of these. Oh, and thick-skinned helps, too. Not everyone will hand out directories of a class you’ve attended for several weeks and refuse you one, but be ready. It could happen. Not everyone will stand up beside you when you’ve accidentally sat in her pew around many open rows and say loudly, “It sure has gotten crowded here today.” It happened to me once. Not everyone will invite you to a meal in a restaurant and leave you sitting by yourself as eight or so ladies gather together at a different one.  Enough. I think I’ve learned not to pay attention to this kind of behavior, to realize that the grace of the Savior is still true, to accept that His love has to be received before it can be extended to others.

Billy Collins is a modern poet (still living) who writes some delightfully funny and insightful poetry. I love one by him titled “Introduction to Poetry” in case you care to look it up. But I wrote a poem similar to his style and I called it

New Member Welcome Guide.

I ask them to walk to the other side of the room and
climb on the window sill, smiling down at the people below
or turn around and wave to someone at the back.

I say bring a ladder to the party and polish the
chandeliers while the show goes on,

or grab a fussy child and feed them ice cream.

I want them to find someone they don’t know
and offer a stretch limousine, a gourmet meal and
$1,000 if they will come home with them for a day.

But all they want to do is nail themselves to the chair
while guard dogs surround them, growling ferociously.

They begin cracking a whip to keep the strangers at bay.

January 13

Magic at the Goodwill

I taught my daughters well.
Oh, at first they didn’t think so.
Go in that store, the one with
old paintings in the window?
Used clothes?
Someone else’s shoes?
But then one day, I imagine
on a tight budget and with
a need for something or other–
or maybe just curiosity took her–
my daughter found a sale.
I don’t know what it was
but she went back. And back.
It’s something between us, a secret
(not too well kept).
Yesterday it was time for me.
I had stayed away for a while.
It was really cold outside and my coat was too tight
I think was the reason. No matter.
After a while I wandered back where
I always go–to the books, the books.
There, though I rarely have, I found a book of poems.

A new friend.
Ah, the magic at the Goodwill.

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