Who am I? ‘Trans-Formation,’ ‘My Grandma’s Eyes’ and other poems exploring identity and diversity

New York Times

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 Kalila Volkov, Morro Bay

After kindergarten you gave up wearing girly things

played with “Star Wars” figures, action heroes and Legos

with a lightsaber dangling from your belt.

You were thought of as a tomboy

often regarded as a boy in restaurants

and kicked out of the girls’ restroom at school several times.

You wore skater shoes and Tony Hawk clothes in middle school.

Your hoodie covered your face when you received “Best in Shop”

and I was embarrassed by your style.

Then in high school when you got soccer MVP and had a girlfriend,

I just thought you were gay –

but in college when you bought men’s shoes and went to a barber

it hadn’t quite hit me that you were becoming your true self;

I didn’t realize how badly you’d wanted to be a boy for so long.

Now at 21 you have a new name and use the men’s room

you give yourself the shots and wait for top surgery

you seem so happy, and I admire your classy style.

I rejoice seeing your maleness emerging fully

I applaud your bravery

Welcome to the world my son!

~ ~ ~

“My Grandma’s Eyes”

By LaVonne Rae Andrews, Templeton

Now I see…

there could be a trace

as I look upon the face

and see my Grandma’s eyes.

Is it really fear

as I look into the mirror

and notice the disguise

as I see my Grandma’s eyes?

Although, I loved her dearly

is my aging that I merely

see myself so ever clearly

in my Grandma’s eyes?

It’s a good reflection

as I travel life’s direction

feeling love and soft protection

of my Grandma’s eyes.

~ ~ ~

“Nineteen-Year-Old Eyes Look Back”

By Bert Forbes, San Luis Obispo

I look at the world through nineteen-year-old eyes,

though a stranger in silver stares back at me.

Old is twenty older than I surmise,

until it sneaks up and whispers ‘maybe’.

I dare not look at what choices lie ahead,

and cannot dream of a better life than mine.

It’s best to pay forward, a wise man said,

giving the chance to help, nurture, refine.

But youth is pasted on young and carefree souls

like S & H Green Stamps, redeemed for fun

while their vibrant skin, wrinkle-free, still glows

with childhood’s fervent dreams that only beckon.

So now, let me set memory a-write:

tell the tale, before I go to that dark night.

~ ~ ~

“Granddaughter Talks In The Warm Café”

By Anne Klinger, Avila Beach

Through the steamy windows of the warm café,

I watch the storm-swollen street gutters,

my hands cupped protectively around my tea mug.

Torrents of rain have torn loose

pieces of my life.

A dead leaf, its veins prominent as in my grandmother’s hands,

floats by, submerges, rises, and disappears,

Taking with it my unknown and now unknowable heritage.

Grandmother, what would you have told me,

If we could have talked?

Would you have turned your hand palm-upward and shown me

your ancient country?

Taught me the soft vowels of your muscular, guttural speech?

First born of the family in this new land

knowing my future but not my past.

I sit in this cafe,

surrounded by streaming raincoats, rubbers, and dripping umbrellas,

and wonder, Grandmother,

what you would have told me if we could have talked?

~ ~ ~


By Ruth Guinane, San Luis Obispo

Off-road passages

Marking time and space.

Mountains rising, floating by.

Sand drifting over yellow lines

Borders speaking of places out there,

Always out there.

Keep on making time

Staying in the lines

That lead to silver lights

of distant cities,

That lead to stars

of distant civilizations

Out there beyond the mountains.

Passage beyond time.


~ ~ ~


By Jason Gomez, Oceano

Why structure yourself

So much more to say tonight

But you won’t let me

~ ~ ~

“The fading of faking”

By Jacob Scott, San Luis Obispo

You say I make you choleric

When I want nothing more than you protected.

I scream so sharp, but you refuse to hear it.

Opposites attract, yet you claim we’re disconnected.

Soon as life is brave enough to rise, it only declines.

Fait and chance are simply fantasies I will not believe.

This is why your eternal winter has something of mine.

You possess where and when our loyalty was conceived.

Love is only love, not when covert

But when displayed from the mountain tops for all to assimilate.

Like the chewing of sand I surprise, but never hurt.

If you are rapid water than I am nothing more than a floodgate.

You see the finish line before it is even up

While I see the beginning like it’s the origin of us.

~ ~ ~

»» 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