Who am I? Words of ‘Grace’ and ‘Peaceful Strength’ from SLO County poets

Charlotte Observer

April is National Poetry Month. We’ve invited readers from across the Central Coast to share their best original poems dealing with self-identity and diversity.

Here is a sampling of the poems. We will be posting new poems at throughout the month.

[»» Start at the beginning]





By Victoria Grostick, San Luis Obispo

Grace appeared to me one day, not as an apparition but,

The essence of who I am.

She said, let go of the anger, let go of the fear, let go and forgive.

Those that are unforgivable, they live with themselves.

She said this with the sweetness and kindness of your most loyal friend, yourself.

And I looked at her with eyes I had not been able to see before and I said to her,

I will, because you have lived with this long enough, and you do not need

To carry it around, like a burdensome sack anymore.

Drop the sack and move into the light and behold what lays before you.

What is before you is all good.

And I said, thank you, I love you.

~ ~ ~

“Dream Reflection”

By Linda Reed, San Miguel

My mirror reflects a woman,

five feet tall, grey hair,

age spots daubed with foundation,

dusted with powder,

yet still visible.

I claim ancestors from Britain, Ireland, and Alsace Lorraine,

lords and soldiers, steel workers and chocolate makers,

but this doesn’t tell you my story, who I am.

I am my dreams,

to walk on distant shores,

on a faraway globe,

dive into a sapphire sea and

translate worlds that exist in my head,

capture them on paper,

so we can walk together.

~ ~ ~


By Marvin Sosna, Morro Bay

In July I will be 90,

a large number

when counting years

of life, a skyscraper

if I were a building,

powerful horsepower

in a motorcycle,

enough degrees

Fahrenheit to break

a sweat, and much older

than eighty-nine.

~ ~ ~

“Taking Notice”

By Josephine Redlin, Arroyo Grande

I’m sitting on a bench outside of the store resting,

my walker close at hand, my painful ankle in a cast.

I never really gave ankles much thought before I slipped

and fell hiking the High Ridge Trail at Lake Lopez.

Skidding on some pebbles, my ankle snapped.

In an instant I was on the ground, my foot flopped

to one side, my ankle refusing to take orders.

Now I notice ankles everywhere. A kid whizzes by

on a skate board, his ankles performing subtle nuanced

movements, keeping everything firmly in cruise control.

I see feet clad in shoes giving little support – high heels,

flimsy sandals, flip flops slapping the pavement worn by

a mom balancing a toddler in one arm, a bag of groceries

in the other. I want to warn them: Careful! Ten cuidado!,

I want to remind them that ankles are small, fragile, yet,

we ask so much of these talented joints that keep us upright

as we walk, run, jump, dance, do whatever acrobatics we please.

Once they break it takes surgery, rods, pins and time

to heal, though never quite as good as new.

I am reminded of how loss has its way of making us

notice things we once had and took for granted.

Faces wrinkle, and we see our own loveliness in old photos.

Hair thins, and our eyes are drawn to full heads of hair.

Illness strikes, and we recognize the radiance of good health.

Days grow short and we notice the fleeting moments.

~ ~ ~

“Peaceful Strength”

By Jennifer Franco Smith, Cambria

My heart slipped under the willow tree

Its umbrella ness sheltered me

The rush of wind around my head

Settled and I caught my breath in my hand

I opened my hand and my soul fluttered

It did not need the host of millions of fairies

My soul was quiet, calm and sweet

Only one tiny fairies wings

helped it beat

My mind captured the hush, lavender moment

A bonnet of peace flew onto my head

It’s aroma was rich with no scent

It seeped into my eyes , and trickled down my throat

How was I so special to be blessed with this bliss

Strength burst my fears

Strength gave me strength

Samson ... Atlas ... Hercules ... King Kong

No, I had found my own diversity

I heard my own cheers

My moments of quiet under the tree

Brought my blessings to me

No need to run, cry or hide

I had been healed way deep inside

~ ~ ~

“The Gift”

By William Tuck, Paso Robles

A Space Defined:

The light fading – A sun’s dominance relegated to shadow;

A form emerges full of possibility and promise.

The chance encounter encourages a striking out;

A hesitation … a few paces … and the gift.

A Symmetry Appears:

The decision made – curb merging with gutter;

A curiosity presented … lost – found … discarded – accepted.

The hopes and dreams laid down for us to see;

A special view … and the gift.

A Thought Pursued:

The value of a pursuit; a promise of light – an acceptance of darkness;

A confirmation of the duality of nature.

The willingness to risk confusion for understanding;

A path emerges … and the gift.

A Spirit Refreshed:

The path revealed … defined by the observer;

A resolve to accept the fragility of our nature.

The pursuit of truth and sharing our experience;

A choice – the gift.

~ ~ ~

»» There’s more: Click here to read the next set of poems

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»» More poems: In troubled times, SLO County poets seek to comfort and inspire