This Is Where: 'Children Live & Dreams Die'

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Empty homes are viewed on October 11, 2012 in Camden, New Jersey. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Camden, New Jersey is now the most impoverished city in the United States. (Spencer Platt/Getty)

For some people it's the place where they were born, for others the place they went to college or fell in love. For Jane Byron its the city of Camden, New Jersey.

You see for Jane Byron, Camden is a place she can no longer live in and a place she can never say goodbye to—something she shared with us in the poem below:

"This is where I bought my first house

Where I had my first child

And heard my first gunshots.

Camden. The city Walt Whitman dreamed was invincible

And the city I tried to help rebuild.

Camden. The city where children live and dreams die.

Jane's poem came in response to our invitation to be part of a project for National Poetry Month. In collaboration with our friends down in Miami at WLRN, we're collecting poems that include the words, "This is where."

Today Jane shares the story behind her poem. You can participate by sending us a poem about a place that matters to you. In verse or in a few lines describe somewhere that is important to you. It must include the phrase "this is where." Tweet it to us using the hashtag #ThisIsWhere, or submit one right here on our website.

If you're in South Florida, be sure to tweet it to @WLRN to be entered their poetry contest this month.



Jane Byron

Produced by:

Mythili Rao


T.J. Raphael

Comments [18]

Pat Spurlock from Rainy Oregon

Re-worked my hasty attempt of yesterday... Is this okay to do?

Salmon Races

This is where she crossed the finish line
Swimming from the Ocean to Summit Creek
Eight muscled pounds, my herring-fed, prize-winning, Siletz River Coho
She was one cool racing fish!
Follow the scent up stream: Swim overland in high water
Swim up flooded roads!
That's how she won!

Most productive female on record: 13,500 eggs!
In retirement at Alsea hatchery
Big males rammed noses against steel plate
To see her blue and green and silver glittering
Sleekness--her supple, rounded adipose fin!
What have you done? she looked back
While I only wanted to swim in her eyes.

Apr. 11 2014 02:42 PM
Sandy Doonan from Portland, Oregon

This is where she lives now.
In the clear color of a son's eyes, the curl of a daughter's hair and in the habits we acquired with her guidance.
In the pleasure of a recipe shared through the generations. In my voice when I speak to my children.
She lives framed in memories both static and fluid, in the past we remember and a future that isn't ours.
Our very cells house hers.
This is where she lives now.

Apr. 11 2014 01:00 PM
Sami Abu Shumays from Queens, NYC

#ThisIsWhere I found fabric merchants
Singing ancient poetry from Andalusia,
And #ThisIsWhere I learned to sing
in the tongue of my ancestors.

#ThisIsWhere I rode a bicycle in a giant circle
carrying my violin from lesson to lesson,
and #ThisIsWhere I looked like an alien
from outer space, with my ponytail and goatee.

#ThisIsWhere I watched goats
turned into drums, and
#ThisIsWhere I heard drums sing
in the hands of worshippers.

#ThisIsWhere I ate the freshest apples
And five kinds of pomegranates and Sheep's milk yoghurt,
and #ThisIsWhere the corner store poured
olive oil into a jug for me from the grove just outside of town.

#ThisIsWhere I was welcomed with
the most gracious hospitality I've ever seen,
And #ThisIsWhere I didn't speak
to a Woman for four straight months.

#ThisIsWhere Saladdin's Citadel guards a city
from atop a hill,
and #ThisIsWhere the ancient souq
has been reduced to rubble.

#ThisIsWhere merchants used to pass
stopping between Baghdad and Istanbul
on a glorious road spun of silk,
But now #ThisIsWhere a repressive government
and bands of terrorists
over the scraps of history,
and ruin the lives of millions.

#ThisIsWhere I haven't been in 10 years,
but #ThisIsWhere part of my heart lies
torn apart by wars
but still beating like some ancient drum.

This is Aleppo.

Apr. 11 2014 10:34 AM
J. David Liss from New Jersey

This is where I learned
The long hallway, the short hallway with the four mailboxes
Then out the front door—I hated that door
Outside were boys with hornets in their eyes

Louisa Street, in Brooklyn where I learned
You could almost always find a piece of wood with a nail
You could get at least one swing in
But when your hand is filled with splinters
It hurts too much to hold
Then you get hit

This is where I learned math:
Two or more beat one, every time
And no one helps, or zero

This is where I learned my childish ways

Apr. 10 2014 08:34 PM
Pat Spurlock from Portland, Oregon

Oregon Salmon Racing

This is where she crossed the finish line
On her swim from Siletz to Summit!
Eight pounds of wet, muscled wonder
My prize-winning Coho, herring fed;
She was one cool racing fish!
Follow the scent from nascent stream
So, if the water is high, Swim overland!
That's is how she won!
The race is in the fall, during the heavy rains.

Most productive female on record: 20,000 eggs!
She out-did her race fame at the
Alsea River hatchery,
Where she retired, and
Attracted big males that
Rammed noses against steel plates to get to her.
Sexy! Sexy! Sexy!
That blue and green and silver glittering, wet sleekness
Whipped me with the tails of her swimming eyes!

Apr. 10 2014 07:09 PM
Cathy Wells from Palestine, Texas

This is where my mother is buried.
This is where I will be buried too.
In a family cemetery on
This land, cleared and tamed and fenced
By a child-bride who celebrated her golden wedding anniversary
Before she lay down, deep in the woods of East Texas
Beneath the tall pines punctuated by brilliant dogwoods
Mere steps from the home she kept
And swept
And where she slept,
Not forever, but just for the night
With the man who tamed the land with her
and oversaw the digging and the laying of the stone.
Who mows and tends this place alone,
This place where my mother is buried.

Apr. 10 2014 01:19 AM
Stormy from Austin now, Cove, OR then

This is where I grew up
You’ve probably never heard of it
You’d be hard pressed to find it on a map
No, it’s not anywhere near Portland
My state was made up of many such map dots
Wide spots in the road we used to call them
My mother started teaching in 1967
The town she taught in was gone before I was born
It was a company town, the company closed it down
My father was born in 1938
The town he was born in is a ghost town
Two buildings that stand near the stone chimney
Of the store he was born in the back of
He would point it out every single time we drove by
This is where generations of kids grow up
So they can move to somewhere else

Apr. 09 2014 10:47 PM
CA Guilfoyle from Portland, OR

This is where the orchard was
lemon trees as far we could see
a memory of neroli flowered breeze
This is where I went running in the scented rows of yellow
in a dream, you were always catching me
Ever the days, when sunlight seemingly chased the moon away
there in a school, where we lingered in the sweetest lessons
of our lives, and trees

Apr. 09 2014 09:50 PM
Anna from Minnesota

This is where…I am proud to be one hundred percent Finn and Virginia, Minnesota by way of Detroit and and Old 169.
From worms in my pocket to a flattened teddy Hugh.
From the front “penkki” at church and” hattus” and “sukkas” at Christmas because that is all Santa could afford.
From saunas to sneaking Harlequin romances and bags of M&M’s on Saturdays…
I am made from nissu and bear tracks, Diet Coke and a cup of black coffee in Times Square, to anything Dave Matthews and John Mayer.
From Sunday school and summer swimming in skin, to New Kids on the Block, singing “Night Swimming” by R.E.M. and saying “God’s Peace”.
I have left a piece of me behind in farmhouses from Easton, PA, to the homestead on Heltunen Road, to Cowtown Cokato and the Amundson acres. I have left a piece of me in birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper and maternity clothes found at rummage sales.
In books about the Amish by Beverly Lewis, Broadway playbills and a brown Ford van with a block on the clutch where my foot wouldn’t go.
I have left a piece of me in the YMCA and playing capture the flag with friends from 4H.
In my best friend G and our sons with biblical names and blonde hair.
I am from and I am made but never whole…I have left a piece of me behind.

Apr. 09 2014 09:48 PM
Janice Josephine Carney from Largo FL

This is where my youth was laid to waste
this is where I turned twenty-one
in this land so many miles away from my home
in this land so many miles away from my family
I lost my faith,
I emptied M 16th clips in anger and hate
in this land
I saw death on a daily basis
I grew so old, so tired
I learned how to drink,
I learned how to use
marijuana and heroin
to help, survive each day
in this land
this is where the label
“Made in Vietnam”
comes from .

Apr. 09 2014 09:22 PM
Dane Curley from Cliffside Park, NJ

This is where buskers sleep beneath street lights
After pawning medals for pennies.
Rucks on backs built on rescue missions
Dreaming memories of mountain passes, barrel flashes
Asleep donning their dusty boots.
This is where chow calls for gritty guts
Sifting stale bread from bins behind ritzy clubs.
Where iron jowls churn chum
Fish-scaled blood reeks in red sun
And big bands bleed sweat
Embody soul.
Here, at the mouth of the monster Miss
The bully spits on shrimp.

((Based on my times in New Orleans, Louisiana))

Apr. 09 2014 07:09 PM
Maryann Woods-Murphy from Teaneck, N.J.

This is where my grandbaby, Victorya, was born in my daughter's bed -
her black father and white grandmother,
gripping her mama's hand as she pushed joy into our lives;
Nike statue within gaze,
Teaneck, the first town in America to voluntarily
bus children to integrate its schools,
a place that dreamed itself hate-free
until the day an unarmed teenager named Philip
was shot by police at a playground.
This is where citizens then broke windows and shouted "enough!"
until we joined hands and spoke of pain and betrayal
so we could rebuild our lives and future
while singing "we shall overcome"
as we still do.
Teaneck - this is where we believe that the inherited
oppression of segregation will not define us,
a place where we believe it better to mix and learn each others' stories
so that the world will one day say:
"We shall overcome and we did"
Teaneck, this is where hope lives.

Apr. 09 2014 07:08 PM
Ben from Port St. Lucie, FL

This is where the line ends for the greatest generation
This is where the line stalls for the newest generation
This is where the sun is hot, and the air is moist
This is where my father taught me to fish, and I learned to love soccer
This is where I made my first friend, and met my wife
This is where hundreds of thousands of people see opportunity and community
This is where I see my family, and hopefully one day my future
This is where you see golf, beaches, retirement homes, and baseball
This is where most of you drive by, but never bother to stop
This is where boredom leads to mischief, but rarely to worse
This is where you hate it until you leave, and love it everyday after that

This is Port St. Lucie

Apr. 09 2014 05:25 PM
Ken Cote from Hutchinson MN

I was bullied most of school years moving where the construction jobs toke our family.
Being made fun of and teased daily on the bus as well at school. Always having to face off with bullies at each school I attended.
It at times still hunts me yet today.
Laws need to passed to protect the children of the world.

Apr. 09 2014 02:35 PM
Amy Davin

Douglasville, Georgia

This is where
I lived and watched
A thousand deaths each day.
Not of life,
But of hope, of dreams, of belief.

This is where
I became
Broken and battered,
Stronger and better.
This is where
Hatred lives
But hope rises above.

Apr. 09 2014 01:17 PM
Dawn from Philadelphia, PA

#Thisiswhere my life began
Before this place and time
Living life, contently and happily
Not knowing my soul wasn't complete
History so beautiful and grand surrounded me in this place
But my entire focus was on you
Your delicate hands, the way you moved, grew, lived
My memory of this physical place is fading, if it was ever there at all
I only remember the joy I felt during our private moments
Rocking you and you being you
On this journey, Williamsburg came and went in a blink of an eye
But I remember this place as the place my life began

Apr. 09 2014 01:11 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

This is where I was born and raised
As a Brooklyn boy
I had to have attitude
It was in the jeans you wore
And smart aleckiness of expression
"Don't show 'em that anything
Can get to you...Go from
The sneer of contempt
To the frivolous smile."

Now, I am a tourist in my Borough
I watch folks from around the country
From around the world move
To my native land and call it their own
I like being in their way with my camera
Taking details down of what I find funny

It bothers me less than you'd think
They can have the Borough
But they never really get the attitude.
"Here in Brooklyn, the Real Brooklyn
We say,'Je ne sais what the fuck?!"

Maybe one day, I can settle back down
In my hometown

Apr. 09 2014 12:06 PM
Michael West from Green Wood Heights, Brooklyn, NY

This is where a half dozen generations of me and mine
Have laid down and dug up roots,
A dramatic broken land known for comedy.

This is where myriad races, creeds and colors
Grind the gears and bask in bucolic gardens,
The City of Churches, the land of breweries.

Brooklyn is a mixed media canvas
On which so many lives combine as art.
This is where my song and I will live and die.

Apr. 09 2014 10:10 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.