Who am I? ‘The Life of a Farmer,’ ‘A Gemini Dream’ and other poems exploring identity

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]




“The Life of a Farmer”

By Glenna Luschei, San Luis Obispo

I grew up in the corn and bean fields of Iowa,

sweltering days.

We stripped down to bathing suits at noon,

ran to the trucks for cover when it stormed.

I moved to California to grow avocados. Ripe

ones sell nearly two dollars apiece

at Trader Joe’s. You can never predict

the life of a farmer.

~ ~ ~

“Sowing the Seeds”

By Michael Shanley and Annie Harpel, Cambria

My empty notebook is fresh soil.

I am a poet

who plants words like seeds upon each page,

transforming it

into a garden of poetry.

~ ~ ~


By Margaret Bertrand, Los Osos

Child sits beneath a pine counting lily pads,

transforming them to ham rolls for imaginary customers.

She carries them in a pail to her restaurant

on a green row boat. She ferries her dog and relatives

willing to pay, moving only end around tethered end

along the warm dock into the shade by rocks.

Her menu expanded to clay sundaes topped with catkins,

petal and berry soup, popular acorn patties.

When allowed to untie the ferry, she rowed alone

to the far side of Willow Bay to a secret spring.

Removing the heavy stone cover, she cupped

her small fingers to taste icy worlds and shiver.

Once she paddled across the river, where

she picked real red raspberries until suddenly

a loud hoot of a Great Horned Owl

made her regret the theft and she fled.

Old woman who was child, remembers journeys

to those sacred places, seemingly alone, yet

never alone, where life germinated against luminous

skies, where imagination soared.

She cries gratitude for that space she had, dreaming

what was to come.

~ ~ ~


By Eve Cone, Atascadero

I remember as a child how I wanted to skate.

I was a country kid from a large family

with lots of range for horseback riding

but not for skating –

I had a small cement porch on the north side

of our square house,

but I had only one skate.

So I skated with one skate.

I put the skate on my right foot and held it on with

two or three Mason jar rubbers.

I'd give myself a good push-off

and glide from one end of the porch to the other

without touching my left foot to the ground.

That's all there was to it, push/glide,

but I practiced over and over for the perfect push

and the perfect glide.

In my imagination I sometimes added another skate

and more space, but actually

I had only one skate and one porch.

Push/glide, push/glide, push/glide.

~ ~ ~

“A Gemini Dream”

By Evelyn Cole, Arroyo Grande

I dreamed I came back as a harbor seal

in Avila Bay, California

I hang out near the pier

swim beneath to dance

for patrons dining above,

peering through their glass tables

I flip onto an empty floating dock

wondering why I’m alone, then sing,

Je suis seule ce soir avec mes rêves,

je suis seule ce soir, sans ton amour.

Some kids on the pier bark at me

I nod at their applause, and, encouraged,

sing, Le jour tombe, ma joie s'achève,

tout se brise dans mon coeur lourd.

The crowd on the pier barks louder

I do a flip flop bow and sing

Je suis seule ce soir avec ma peine

J'ai perdu l'espoir de ton retour,

A big handsome seal swims toward me,

all eyes, and I belt out, Et pourtant je t'aime

encore et pour toujours,

Ne me laisse pas seule sans ton amour

I wake up

You are kissing me

all over

~ ~ ~

“A Frigid View”

By Earl Henry Smith, Paso Robles

The moon is full and shining bright

the rolling hills, glistening, in its light

A million tiny diamonds on the ground

they seem to be moving all around

Each sagebrush dressed in winters best

a frigid view high desert west

Even sounds are crisper here

and travel fast through December air

I cast an eye on this land

and know the scene was thoroughly plan’d

Then the spirit of countless tribes

written down by modern scribes

will reach me here, where I sit

I ask them quietly, please don’t quit

Continue please, touch my soul

Tell me please of times ‘ago’

When man, and beast, and brush, and stream

lived together as a dream

When Mother-earth and Father-sun

and the humans were all one

In thought and deed and spiritual goal

remember in all things a soul

Never taking more than needed

sometimes – the ground be seeded

To fill the gap we humans make

when going further for man’s sake.

~ ~ ~

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

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San Luis Obispo County poet laureate Jeanie Greensfelder reads her poem "At Sweet Springs Preserve," at the location of the same name, in March 2017.

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