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 sanluisobispo.com/entertainment/books throughout the month.
“Me, My Mom And The Stranger In Room 26”
By Sandi Pound, Atascadero
Each day I visit the woman I don’t like much,
petulant, angry, paranoid.
“I won’t eat!” stamped feet.
“What are you doing there!” demanded as I tidy up her space.
“They count your food here.”
“They take things while you’re sleeping.”
Then begins the weeping, with no tears.
“I won’t keep you. You should go.”
“Well, just go then...leave!”
Time is not perceived.
“Shame on you,” she whispers, smiling as I rise to depart.
I share a long embrace with the woman I don’t like much.
Not long ago, weary eyes still sparkled,
sense of humor sharp, rarely rankled.
The woman I don’t like much
gave all who knew her comfort,
a countenance of safe harbor.
She offered time and understanding,
thoughts of contemplation,
demanded payment naught.
Love, in spite of blood, was unconditional.
Taught me to accept without regret.
Each day I visit the woman I don’t like much.
~ ~ ~
“Dining At The Shelter”
By Cal Wilvert, San Luis Obispo
Had I seen her on the street
I’d have guessed teacher or librarian
Arriving at the end of the serving line
the slender, upper-middle aged woman
clean and well groomed
stood before me
as I volunteered at a homeless shelter
on a cold Sunday evening
She chose salads and soup
not the starchy entree I was dispensing
and ate quietly at the end of a table
her body slanting away from others
How thin the line
between server and served
~ ~ ~
“My Home Town”
By John Turrill, Arroyo Grande
Divided by the Housatonic River,
housed the rich and the poor
The rich from New York City
went to Kent School
to graduate into Ivy League
The poor were farmers
and the real poor,
employees of farmers
lived in an old tobacco barn
The train runs through the town and
behind our house, a white
clapboard four-story Victorian
first floor for my Dad, the town doctor
He was paid in chickens
during the Great Depression
Freight trains maintained
the town’s population, 1200 back then
Their roar awakened everyone at 3 am
There was nothing to do at that hour
The train still runs through at 3 am
and the population has grown
to three thousand
~ ~ ~
By Nathan Spooner, Grover Beach
Lucy’s black flowing hair
tied with simple wooden beret
touches almost to her waist.
Her family fled Shanghai when
Mao’s army took over.
On the trans-Siberian railroad
to Europe and then further west
her family came to start anew
She, born much later in New York City,
growing tall and beautiful,
now walks by my side past loquat trees
all the way from China she says,
as we continue along Telegraph Avenue
toward the Cinema Theatre on a brisk
fall day in this town on the east side
of San Francisco bay.
Her dimpled smile takes us away
into quiet afternoon slow paced
fantasy real love adventure.
~ ~ ~
By Colleen M. Elam, Arroyo Grande
I have been looking for the name
of the Native Alaska Tlingit woman
who gave birth to my grandfather.
He was taken away as a small child
by his white father to a different world.
He didn’t know why he couldn’t sleep
on the floor in front of the fireplace.
This was one of the many things he did
that caused the new people to call him
a savage and a half-breed.
I am proud of my Native America roots
as it gives me compassion for everyone,
regardless of our ethnic difference.
I am sad that I never learned
my great grandmother’s name.
I will call her Raven —
which represents the Tlingit nation.
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~