Books

Who am I? ‘You Are Me’ and other poems exploring identity

dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

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.

[»» Start at the beginning]

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Poems

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“Reflections”

By Norma Wightman, Morro Bay

What ifs rule her thinking this

sullen morning as she looks

out at dirty snow turning to

slush in her yard.

She pours strong coffee into

a crazed ceramic mug and

thinks about her life as

decisions she didn’t make.

Lack of choice wasn’t an

issue. She’d drifted into

many jobs. Men had come and

gone. None seemed a better

choice than living alone.

Today is her sixtieth birthday.

How will she celebrate —

visit the book store, buy a first

edition, indulge in a vintage

cabernet to sip by the fire?

Refilling her mug, she raises it

like a sanctified chalice, pledging

her commitment to living –

to whatever end.

~ ~ ~

“The Toast-and-Coffee Poet”

By Robert C. Pavlik, San Luis Obispo

Why do you soak your toast in coffee?

I don’t soak.

I dunk.

Well, you end up with a butter slick on the top and crumbs at the bottom of your cup.

The toast chunks tumble on your tongue.

It’s disgusting.

Then don’t drink my coffee.

Why do you dunk, anyway?

I learned it at the kitchen table in Cleveland, Ohio when I was just a kid.

All my elders dunked.

They had bad teeth (or dentures) so it was probably an easy way to deal with hard toast or day-old bread.

Nothing went to waste.

My morning java is an analogy for life itself:

Savor the flavor.

Drink to the dregs.

Wash up and get to work.

~ ~ ~

“Only Once”

By Michaelann Dimitrijevich, Atascadero

When I was an infant,

my parents were told I’d never walk.

Instead I became a star athlete.

As an alcoholic,

I got the gift of sobriety.

I’ve been blessed with second chances,

but what I cherish most

is what will pass through my life only once.

Like my husband, with his big eyelashes,

whose devotion goes beyond vows.

My parents, married seventy years,

and their unconditional love.

Friends who are like family,

and pets who are friends—

this smiling cat,

my guardian of fourteen years,

and this quirky red horse

who renewed my trust—

they all carry me

when I’m crippled.

~ ~ ~

“You Are Me”

By Morgann Tayllor, Templeton

Hey little girl

you break my heart

looking out from your

vintage photo

A wistful child

with hair of corn silk

arms wrapped around yourself

that say you need a hug!

You are me,

he, she and we

hearts that ache and break

in all colors and cultures

Wars wage

as the world weeps

its fear, hurt

and rage

Lay down your arms, world

open up your arms

little girl, I’ll give you

a hug!

~ ~ ~

“Where Are You From?”

By Mary Fahey, Pismo Beach

I’m from a concrete forest, inhabited by street-smart hoodlums,

Dumb as dirt pseudo-intellectuals and people like us.

I’m from museums, libraries, theaters, parks and zoos,

Night clubs, jazz joints and neon noise.

I’m from trolley rides to Coney Island

A Nathan’s hot dog slathered with mustard on a toasted bun

Throngs who came to escape the city heat and humidity

And spread their blankets so close together that you

Could walk from boardwalk to ocean without stepping on sand.

I’m from Saturday afternoons at the Prospect movie house where

A white clad matron and red uniformed usher patrolled the aisles

And kept order in the theater filled with fidgety, boisterous children

Who munched candy and popcorn and booed or cheered the action on the screen

I’m from steel-toed work boots that glide along a beam sixty stories high,

Before the age of hard hats and safety belts.

I’m from Red Cross™ shoes and a cotton house dress

Stretched across soft bosom and belly.

I’m from a flighty boy-crazy sister and

Serious brother, lover of classical music.

I’m from a plethora of aunts, uncles and cousins

With whom we played an endless game of poker,

Sang, laughed, teased, argued and made up, or not.

A kaliescope by the delicious dysfunction of family.

~ ~ ~

“Untitled”

By Theodore Frampton, San Luis Obispo

And all of the sudden I found myself,

With broken bottles and a barbed-wire fence,

And as I watched —as the sun set,

I felt the wind wrap around my neck,

And I fell in love with the dirt,

I taste the blood —as it is wet,

And all of the sudden I’m lost again.

~ ~ ~

»» 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

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