Where I’m From by
(89 Stories)

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WHERE I’M FROM inspired by a poem by George Ella Lyon

I am from the old country: Belarus, Poland, running from the Cossacks

The Lady with the Lamp: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

I am from Far Rockaway, NY; St. Louis, Detroit

I am from dill pickles, herring, a glass tea

I am from McAllister St., the Fillmore, the Ukraine Bakery; a run-down bar on Skid Row; eggs from Petaluma

I am from the fog, the street cars, the hills

I am from a chance meeting between two strangers on New Year’s Eve: good son Sam, beleaguered daughter Betty

I am from 1825 Turk St, San Francisco; 3023 Humphrey Ave, Richmond

I’m from jump rope, jacks, olly olly oxen free until summer darkness fell

I’m from riding down the street on my bike

I’m from noisy holiday dinners

I’m from backyard birthday parties, home movies without sound

I’m from Christmas mornings without a new bike

I’m from teachers, singers, writers and actors

I’m from don’t wear your heart on your sleeve

I’m from Cocoa Puffs and Trix, canned vegetables and chilled red wine

I’m from scrambled eggs with salami and rye bread with garlic

I’m from kugel and honey cake and matzo ball soup

I’m from a place I still dream about: a big backyard, a hammock strung between walnut trees and a small gray kitten next door

I’m from the show must go on and “Why, Julia Hershey, French toast!”

I’m from plan your work and work your plan

I’m from I love you with tears

Characterizations: moving, right on!, well written


  1. Thanx Risa for this lovely and moving poem full of memories of beloved people and places , the joys and disappointments of childhood, and even its remembered tastes.

    So good to see you back on Retro! Write on!

  2. Good! Looking forward to more of your stories!

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    Wow Risa, wonderful poem and such rich memories! You say so much with your spare words. I fill in most of the spaces with what it evokes. Thank you! Good to hear from you again.

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    This is wonderful, Risa. I understand you completely (and, though my ancestors were Lithuanian, I get it) from your descriptors. Your memories are rich and pungent and bring us into your world without needing dense prose.

    It is always a pleasure to read your writing.

  5. Dave Ventre says:

    I love the idea that the people in our past are as much where we are from than are any place or places!

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