#ThisIsWhere: Poems About Places That Matter

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Think of a place that carries a lot of meaning for you—picture it in your head. Can you put that picture into words? (TT Studio/Shutterstock)

Think of a place that carries a lot of meaning for you—picture it in your head.

Can you put that picture into words? This month, our friends at WLRN in Miami are teaming with O, Miami, a regional poetry festival, to get members of their community to share poems about the places in South Florida they care about with the hashtag #ThisIsWhere.

Scott Cunningham, co-founder of O, Miami and Alicia Zuckerman, Editorial Director for WLRN, explain how the project works.

Scott's #ThisIsWhere poem is about meeting his fiancé: 

#ThisIsWhere I saw her, in the white crushed seashell

ash of the parking lot behind Sweat Records, surrounded

by the dull complaint of an unheralded punk band,

though it's true there are no heralded punk bands.

She was wearing sunglasses because this is Miami

and it hurts to look, and to be looked into. From somewhere

beneath the bright ocean of her face, she said

my name, a form of this is, and everything that was not her—

the squat concrete houses, the silos of beer,

the circling helicopter—became this is not.

Guests:

Scott Cunningham and Alicia Zukerman

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

Comments [43]

Fathom Twain from the Rock

Once upon a time, back when I was very small,
Deep down in the sylvan wilds of Delaware,
There was a great big rock beside a scenic waterfall,
And a bunch of us would spend our free time there.

The rock had always been there, half submerged and half aground,
Caught between the wooded hills and Red Clay Creek,
Or at least that's where it was when first the rock was ever found
By anyone among my parents' clique.

It was bigger than a living room and sort of flat on top,
With space enough for all of us and more.
It was far from uptight neighbors, so the parties needn't stop,
And sometimes we'd see the dawn, still on that shore.

The waterfall was built by us. My parents and their friends
All gathered heavy river-rocks by hand.
They stacked them up to make a dam, and built out from both ends
And left an opening right where they'd planned.

The water there was deep and still, beside our gneiss big rock.
In summertime, they'd sometimes dive and swim.
They built a smaller pool for us, the children of the flock,
Its shallows walled off with a rock dam rim.

So many days I hopped on rocks, or splashed about the creek.
So many nights I watched our bonfires burn.
So many good times, every month, and often every week.
And many times we watched the seasons turn.

And then, one day, came bulldozers, to clear away our fun.
They tore apart our sylvan paradise.
They put in roads, and built up homes, and called it Spice Mill Run,
And ran us off from our beloved gneiss.

So proud they were of what they'd made, so quick to tout its good.
They even praised our scenic waterfall.
We built that dam. They chased us out. They ravaged our fair wood.
They didn't give a damn for us at all.

We didn't own the land by law. In those days, no one did.
But even still, it just doesn't seem fair.
I've been there since; it's not the same as when I was a kid.
It can't be. Even still, yes, this is where.

Apr. 30 2014 10:29 PM
Gregory from Near St. Louis, MO

This is where pamphlets are stacked on low desks next to institutional chairs.
Their covers are tan, sky blue, avocado green.
Plain, or striped, or splashed with colorful pictures of smiling doctors, nurses, patients.
Everything You Need to Know About . . .
Social And Emotional Effects of . . .
A Patient’s Guide to . . .
Twenty Tips for Getting Through . . .
What to Expect From . . .
Thirteen Questions to Ask Your . . .
This is where bright posters hang.
A sunrise over a beach, a lone climber scaling a mountain peak,
White clouds against a blue sky, a runner with outstretched arms.
Inspire.
Achieve.
Fight.
Love.
Live.
This is where a kindly stranger slides a needle into the veins on the very backs of my hands
And poisons me with the very best of intentions.
Where we bravely pretend for one another and know we’re pretending.
Where not all tears are bad.

Apr. 30 2014 06:03 PM
Penelope from Salem OR

This is where (and how) I live now, after years of searching
Poem was written in 2009

Where is my sweet place?
I sit and wonder.
That welcoming home,
With shame put asunder.
Accepting myself for what Ive become,
Aged and holy, just like a nun.

Apr. 28 2014 01:26 PM
Alden Clark from Matthews, NC

#ThisIsWhere

Isle of Palms, SC

This is where nothing matters
but the waves arriving, alone
they knit themselves together
into one long, white line against the night,
see ...

Apr. 16 2014 03:07 PM
susan gill from Stinson Beach, California

Stinson Beach--This is where, as you walk along the shore through the wonder of cold ocean foam, you are sure to step on a sharp stone or the jagged edge of a shell, and then, you must decide alone, whether to put on your shoes.

Apr. 14 2014 05:05 PM
Michael Maurer from Minnesota

This Is Where

This is where I died.
in these jungle covered mountains
west of Hue, not far from Laos,
in the year of nineteen-sixty-eight.
Here, I carried my life on my back
and death in my hands,
walking on the blood of enemies and friends
until mine join theirs.

This is where I was last alive,
where, at eighteen,
I clung precariously to life,
collecting wounds,
some of them self-inflicted,
leaving a trail of blood
invisible to others
until there was nothing left to bleed
and the mountains owned me.

Apr. 11 2014 11:51 AM
Cyndi from Jax FL

This is where a scared child laid a trembling foundation for life.
This is where I hid from the hurting and yelling.
This is where I slammed the door in teenage rebellion and painted a peace sign on my wall.
This is where I packed my things when I left home at 16.
This is where I drive by every time I come home for sparse visits and wonder about the child who sleeps there now. Haunted by my memories and praying that my old bedroom hears more laughter and less tears.

Apr. 11 2014 10:41 AM
zane from seattle

This is where,
I hold my infant son when he cries.
It used to by my office, but I never used it much.
So cribs fill the space of computers,
diapers replace desks
and the old sports closet is now stuffed with baby gear.
This is where, I come at 3am when my son is cranky and tired and shows no regard for human life.
I look out his window at the bright street light and wonder what he will be like when he is 16, my age, my parent's age.
But a shrill cry brings me back to reality and my thoughts turn to how much longer until it’s my wife’s turn to hold my son.

This is where I stand and bounce to infinity.

Apr. 10 2014 04:17 PM
mariamadonna from Salem,OR

Media,PA

This is where I sat on somebody's front porch step
Waiting while the morning sun warmed the cold concrete of March the tenth
Nineteen seventy five, almost forty years and I can still feel the sun
And the soft fur of a neighborhood cat rubbing against my legs

The last of twelve years of waiting, the first day of a new family
A wild kid looking for answers, and then they came walking down the street
The years brought more questions and pain
But on that day, in that place, I was happy.

Apr. 10 2014 03:41 AM
Clare, Age 8 from Norwalk, CT

This is the place where
I sit by the sea
And maybe just watch the waves roll in
Splash! Splash!
I hear kids
Do you want to go find shells?
I feel the hot sand between my toes.

Apr. 09 2014 07:55 PM
Theresa from Anchorage, Alaska

My "This Is Where" Alaska haiku:

This is where I first
saw a moose eating branches;
moose nuggets remain.

Apr. 09 2014 07:25 PM
Margaret from Manhattan

This is where The Spirit cares
to make us, of dimensions, well aware;
saying what will happen soon
(not to falsely worship sun and moon);
to make The Book read so that it shows
that relating to other spheres can grow.

The Ace's hands are demonstrated;
events are seen to be as fated;
somehow what is beyond explainable
is presented on The Magician's table.

(An aeromagnetic vortex, a stationary geophysical phenomenon, proves that: 1)the human visual faculty can perceive a magnetic dimension; 2) premoni- tion is a function of it; 3)reflective expression of things currently seen or happening explains an interactive involvement with God/Nature's Creation. It is mentioned in the 'warp and woof' of the Bible, verbally and numerically, as: the window/door/gate of heaven; the Mouth of the Lord/David/other personage; Elisha and Elijah's mantle, or the veil, garment, or covenant; the cloudy pillars. For a complete set of notes, see: The Hand in the Window at wordpress.com. soon.)

Apr. 09 2014 04:42 PM
Nick B from Rhode Island

This is where I used to teach kids to love learning
To imagine, to collaborate, to question, to explore
Before vandals turned our (CL)ASSROOM placards into prophesy
Before legislators used PARCC, Common Core, SLOs, I-PLANs,
NECAP, GSEs, New Standards, NCTM Standards, Frameworks
To exorcise the human heart of education, to deface
Our children who now wear blank stares, because
This is where I now teach minors to take a test.

Apr. 09 2014 04:22 PM
John Stone from Coupeville, WA

Penn Cove, Whidbey Island.
This is where the dream continues.
A beautiful Spring.

Apr. 09 2014 02:21 PM
Courtney Normand from Oso, WA

Oso

This is where I grew up
The last stop on the school bus route
At the bridge over the Stillaguamish

This is where the mountain broke away
Where mud slid down and choked the river
And snapped the trees like matchsticks
and silenced life

Downstream a power outage halted our Saturday breakfast
In our cedar A-frame by the river
And then the loud whine of ambulances and fire trucks
was followed by more ambulances and fire trucks
Until my husband called the station and they said it is bad
Come in from off duty
Evacuate your family

Downstream we wait for news to flow to us
News of neighbors up to their armpits in mud
Of babies buried by the mountain
News trickles down to us
Of unspeakable sorrow that chokes our voices
And leaves us weeping silent and cold like the rain

The Stilly works its way around the mud
It will find its path through the clay
The logs, highway, houses, tractors
kitchen appliances, recliners, garden tools
Hello Kitty dolls
Golf sets
Photo albums

The river will dig through and find its way back to us
and the lake behind the slide will recede
And the river will bring us life again
But now it carries in it the mountain
and with it my heart

This is Oso

Apr. 08 2014 06:29 PM
Avery Elizabeth Little Chief from Oklahoma City

This is where the light meets no end,
where the sun is at a blaze.
Where the stars do not falter.
This is the space in between,
where the world has made amends.
We are more at peace,
this is where fire encroaches upon the shadows of sin.

avery little chief
age 12

Apr. 06 2014 07:56 PM
Kate from Brooklyn

Oh Wisconsin your
Robust Bloody Mary Sundays and
Ice winters and your
Yellow summers full of
Beach volleyball and patio beers
Fading too soon yielding
That radiant fall color palette
Flickering pumpkins grinning
In distant suburbia while
Leaves flow in currents
Down the streets leaving
Trees mere skeletons
Readying themselves for
What is to come-
Yet another
Grinding
Winter.
We
Love you as much as we
(hate) you.
This is a love letter to
My home.
My love.
My heart.

Apr. 06 2014 06:44 PM
Mark Rounds

Rose's are red,
when they bloom in the spring.
They bloom in my garden,
but here's the thing.
This is where my daughter died.
Where the boy who killed her
dragged her to hide.
Raped and murdered,
(strangled to death),
then thrown in a corner
to rot with all
of the garbage that lay there,
the mess we leave.
The withered detritus
of the lives we cleave.
So this is where we now plant flowers,
rose's and daffodils,
benches and bowers.
A precious few care,
but nobody goes here.
(You can't really blame them),
There's only just woes here.
Because this where my daughter died.
Where the boy who killed her
dragged her to hide.

Apr. 03 2014 03:34 PM
Jennifer G from Federal Hwy and Parker Ave

#This is where he wiped grease on his shirt,
a pen and a wallet in the left breast pocket.
That is where he stood, in the garage
under hoods, breathing in exhaust.
From there he could watch his youngest boy,
my father, ride down the dip
of the only hilly street known to West Palm Beach.
This is what I hear, from memories so fuzzy,
like coming up from water and trying to see
what the sun has bleached out, but
you know it’s there: the gas station,
the old steel sign, the hilly street.
This is where I wish I could see it too,
smell the WD-40, hear my grandfather cranking
and clanking in the bays.
That is where he earned the trips back to Brooklyn
and the condo in Palm Springs.
This is where I wonder
if things were ever really simpler then
than now, although now there are shootings
on the corner and cracks in the pavement.

Apr. 02 2014 10:11 PM
T Barrett

Thank you for the opportunity:

In the arms of love

This is where my heart flies
Dreams soar against the wind
And my soul chases sunlight
Here is where I belong
In the arms of love.

4/1/14

Apr. 02 2014 03:11 PM
Kevin Leonard from Rockaway, NY

The New Dune

This is where I stand,
between the broke ribs
of my skeleton boardwalk
where the flesh washed away
and left sand.

Like roots old and smooth as bone,
my feet are planted, anchoring me
like a lighthouse to wait out
the next storm, the sand of Rockaway
blown through my appendectomy scar,

my body a beach,
my heart entrenched like a jetty.

Apr. 02 2014 03:08 PM
Jeff C from Brooklyn

#ThisIsWhere #BrooklynWaterfront #WaltWhitman

This is me
Talking back to you
the one, in the crowd
who took the time
past
to come here
now
to dwell in the drift
watch the sun set
and float with me
less alone
on this Ferry

Apr. 02 2014 12:40 PM

Buffalo Montage, Winter 1993

Across from the Lone Star Fajita Grill,
The drugstore sign read Pills n’ Things
And Amigone was the popular funeral chain.

A tessellation of parks, parkways and rotaries,
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in a bygone era,
Shadows of missing Elms and broken connections.

With an international relations degree
I clerked in the china department at a department store chain,
And with a graduate degree as a cashier at Tops International, a grocery store chain.

Up north, the highest peak was Mount Tonawanda, the radioactive landfill,
And further up the road, past the chemical plants fronting the river,
Roared Niagara Falls, the union of sublime and gaudy.

This is where I married, survived cancer, and gave birth to a daughter.
Where I became a motherless daughter, and a daughterless mother
At sunrise, on a cold, clear morning with a pink sky, in a city shrouded with snow.

Apr. 02 2014 10:34 AM
Pam Murphy from Cork, Ireland now NJ

When the daffodils swelter up with yellow around now, it seems
I go there in my mind and in my dreams.
Just to recall the Ireland that I know,
To remember again where I found myself so long ago.
Where frost settled on grass, like powder sugar, early in the morn.
This is where my parents were born.
A place where I ran free, the wind in my hair and a pure moxy in my gut.
Silent but for your voice and mine, it was my escape.
This is where we played and walked and talked
And spoke of life and dreams and our sweet adolescent wishes.
It was where love knew no bounds and time stood still in the matter of that moment.
That precious valley heard every story but never told a soul
about blistered and broken spirits being so brave and bold.
I wanted to shout and scream but my voice went unheard like tiny whispers in the breeze
and floated away and wrapped around the branches of the trees.
That is where I wove fresh rushes into a cross for you.
I may have even prayed upon it.
This is where I sat with pen and paper to write my lonely sonnet.
Amongst the reeds for you, my heart was torn in two.
Tears fell from my face and fed the earth below.
On southern soil this north side girl was reborn and made anew.
when everything else felt askew
everything.......except you.
This is where I found my soul.
Where the rolling fields of my glen met the sky in unison and a winding river ran through it.

Apr. 02 2014 10:06 AM
Elizabeth Correa from Miami, Florida

#ThisIsWhere I should like to live someday, just beyond the city limit, where my wild dream grows. Where I float belly under holding my breath until I can't escape the shrill of instinct any longer and I pull my face from out of the water looking up towards the dragonfly filled sky. I float into the memory of endlessness, the cessation of moment, and quite simply go on that way. I might live there for many days, traveling up river then down river, banking lefts and rights, rocking the forever supple and contained lines of the ancient water trail where time is but a current, a fallen flower, and a moss on a lily pad.

Apr. 01 2014 10:54 PM
Frances from Minnesota

Minnesota
#this is where I've return to
Home, they call it
Back, I say
My little daughter, with her little hand in mine
Our little life left behind
The polar vortex and my parents both embrace us

Apr. 01 2014 09:48 PM
David S. Gibson from Charlotte, NC

This Is Where...

This is where things turned
this new age
Ushered in with metal winged
Dragons driven by a few,
tightly grasping ravenous reigns.
Fire hurling. Flesh made light like feathers
A mist of those made memory.
We huddled together, watching the sky
This Is where hearts burned with fire
Then despair.
This is where we learned
All blood stains the same. We come to an end.
Death makes us all friends.
Black, brown, red, yellow and white.
We were the color of fear.
Tumbling Towers covered us in ash
And it seemed we all died.
This is where we awakened to a mourning
Filled with questions and longing.
We cried for them and for ourselves and for relief.
This is where the brave came forth
Reminding us that we are free
To love to love to love each face
This is where we were confused.
Where we chose to fight Without need of light
Aiming after the strike. Finding no relief but, further grief
Struggling while bleeding from our moral side.
So we spill onto......into the ground
And like manure the wasted brave nourish......
Fueling longing for more spill.
This is where things turned
This is where it turned for us
This is where it turned.

Written by David Scott Gibson
Charlotte, NC

Apr. 01 2014 06:08 PM
David Scott Gibson

Hi. Whew! I finally made it to the right web page. Now...how do I submit a poem?

Apr. 01 2014 05:27 PM
Arielle Jessop from Brooklyn

Wheat fields turn from yellow to brown
A warm wind whips through grasses under rolling foothills,
To the mountains across a river of murky memories.
This is where tentative drags on cigarettes and disappointing first kisses
begin to form curiosity.
Broken barbed wire fences that used to keep the cows from wandering,
Now follow the gaze of the desire to flee.
This is where the fire starts.
Soft rain slips down a blurry window pain behind a nondescript plaid shirt,
Mostly blues and greens, a highlight of canary yellow,
Looking out, this is where she learns to fly.

Apr. 01 2014 04:05 PM
Kim from San Francisco

An exchange student in Egypt, 2008

What have I done? I asked as I came to this unfamiliar land.
Gradually I learned the way of life
My day began with a call to prayer, one mosque after the other
A nation under dictatorship, but frustration was king
The spoken language so foreign to me, but it did not bother me
Though I wished the summer heat would go away
Although I was alone, I was never lonely
Honking, chaotic traffic and smiles
Men and women, young and old
I lived among them.
They taught me life
I was reborn

Apr. 01 2014 03:58 PM
Elena from Queens, NY

This is where all the children have passports
And dual or triple citizenship
At home? In Queens.

Apr. 01 2014 03:45 PM
Madeleine Allen from Lake Tahoe California

#thisiswhere
it seems as though my
passion defies
the drain of mercury-
perhaps it
flows red
into my cheeks
and places the
blush I feel
as our embrace tightens

This is where the last
leaf takes its turn
to detach from the great birch-

The snowfall
is serene and forgiving

This is Lake Tahoe

Apr. 01 2014 03:41 PM
Elena from Astoria, New York

This is where I learned Greek food
This is where Brazilians disappear into the crowd
This is where all the children have passports
This is where you are home
This is Queens

Apr. 01 2014 03:40 PM
Dawn Roble from Central Point, Oregon

This is where fir trees grow
This is where the Siskiyou soar
Jobs are few and many seek
Opportunity is quite oblique
It’s this place that I adore

Apr. 01 2014 03:38 PM
Mary Phillips from Canby, Oregon

This is where I find my peace,
My heart warms, expands; my blood pressure and heart rate decrease,
A smile blooms across my face.
Sweet, fine, pure joy bubbles up in my gut
Replacing tension and stress.
I breathe. Deep and slow.
My hand and fingers wander across her ears and back,
The rich, warm, smooth velvet shooting a silent memo to my mind and soul..
"You are home. You are safe. You are loved.
My dog Belle. If there is such thing as a canine soul mate, I've found her.
Doesn't matter where in the world we are, if she is with me I am home.

Apr. 01 2014 03:20 PM
Althonso Lewis from Tampa , Fl

This is where I started it all. Were I learned to get up after a fall. This is where I learn right from wrong also where I learn to be strong. My mother's arms were warm and safe.And always a smile on her face.And even though she's gone from me. This is where I long to be

Apr. 01 2014 03:15 PM
Nicholas Gough from Savannah, Georgia

This is where I bide my time
This is where I sit and wait
Where I honed my sound design craft
Until I can sprint from the starting gate

Apr. 01 2014 02:51 PM
May Ortiz from Pembroke Pines

Broward County #ThisIsWhere a family of 4 started all over

Coming from their ‘country of origin’ English was something new, yet parents learnt to keep their Spanish as kids started to forget it soon

Left behind was the live-in-maid and a world of luxury services happily swapped for a do it yourself world of chores as a family, again.
Swapping brought citizenship and the peace of a secure place colored with bi-polar weather.

So, ecstatic with the 100 shades of green rich landscapes and clear bright blue sky, a mom ‘former’ executive embraced soccermomwood

Land of couches of baseball, volleyball, basket and soccer that helped raised the kids in inviting never ending snack weekends at full of green Parks, families really shared

Clean and ample roads, well maintained cities and impeccable crisp troopers that teach you that community rules maybe start with basic traffic signals that mainly translate: Be considerate and Respect, We are in the USA.

#ThisIsWhere after sending their kids to the land of Noles, a native spanish speaker couple continues addicted to the chillaxing Hollywood Beach daring to write though, a poem in English

Apr. 01 2014 01:32 PM
Bruce H. Anderson from Temple, Texas

This is where I drag myself
It is dark, as dark as when I left,
And dinner time is long past.
This mortal coil being slowly beat down
With an executive platinum hammer.
My badge is light,
Comparable to the weight given my decades of experience.
But
This is where I am loved
This is where I can create and innovate
This is where my castle stands
And this is where I am King.

Apr. 01 2014 01:23 PM
Jennifer from Texas (for now)

This is where? I can’t define.
A home, a town that isn’t mine.
Emergency forms I can’t complete,
Keeping track of every receipt.
8 different towns in 18 years,
Leaving friends and drying tears.
Somewhere we decided on this life,
He became a soldier. I became his wife.
We rely on each other, we’ve become a team
And although it wasn’t my American Dream,
Bring on another town; another tour,
‘This is where’ may change, but our family endures.

Apr. 01 2014 01:19 PM
Shelly Rex from Athens, Ohio

This is where I came to be me.
A college town, far from hometown pain and memories.
But decades later, the closer it becomes.
The desire to return creeps in.
The pain and memories are a part of me.
Where will my final resting place be?

Apr. 01 2014 01:00 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.


This is where
I drink my morning
This is where
I find my voice
If you think you know me
You know where this is

Apr. 01 2014 11:52 AM
David B. McCoy from Massillon, Ohio

THE ISLAND

After swimming through
the sea of dense brush
that surrounds this
northern section of the park,

and landing on what seems
a deserted, unpopulated island,
I begin to wonder if I am,
in fact, the first in generations
to tread on this soil.

While looking around,
I name those who have
walked here before me:
pioneers, Indians, mammoths.

This isolation of land,
in its vastness,
causes me to feel small,
and as I repeat the list
over and over again—

pioneers, Indians, mammoths,
pioneers, Indians, mammoths--

I begin to feel myself go invisible.

Apr. 01 2014 10:04 AM

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