Who am I? ‘Buried,’ ‘The Sparrows of Dyslexia’ 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 Sparrows of Dyslexia”

By George Asdel, Atascadero

Like a flock of noisy sparrows, images enter my brain

through my eyes, and ears, some upside down,

some backwards with much chattering — moments

later, calmed, ideas formed, they fly out in creative ways.

In school, I was successful in art and music,

but struggled to read, to finish tests, to keep from failing.

Labeled: bright, but lazy, a daydreamer — can do better.

Put in classes that didn’t challenge me.

Put in classes with disruptive students.

At seventeen I was a popular story teller on Catalina Island

telling ancient stories of the constellations to groups of Scouts and people from yachts in the harbor.

We sat in a clearing on a cliff

looking down at phosphorescent surf,

looking up at a trillion stars in the summer night.

I graduated from a university.

Taught students in neglected inner city schools.

Directed camps for all ages.

Now a professional artist in galleries,

puppeteer, writer of puppet plays,

poet, creator of books and award winning poems,

musician, singer in many choirs over the years.

Now with age and experience,

appreciated are the challenges and gifts of dyslexia,

tamed is the cacophony of wild sparrows.

~ ~ ~


By Kathy Hansen

With articulated fingers,

I pull a silken stream of words from my body,

Minute thread of consciousness

held up against the bright world.

Anchored by only this one thread,

I cast myself into space,

Dangle and swing from here to who knows where,

Tying impossible things together.

Word by glistening, hard fought word,

wrenched from gut to hand to pen,

I write my paradigm across the path.

I weave a shiny net to catch your mind.

~ ~ ~


By Corrina Veesart, Los Osos

Touch is like a river ripple,

you to me, me to you,

words formed

by touch alone.

Heart on heart, hand holding

calls out loudly

like animal instinct,

energy exchanged.

I, without sight or sound,

crave contact, need connection

animal to animal

soul to soul

without my native sign language

just hands touching.

Energy alone

speaks louder than a river’s thunder,

emotions unravel:

happiness, sadness, hello, goodbye, anger, apologies, moving on …

sensing, feeling

by the language of touch

Why is it that hugs matter so?

Perhaps because the sting of rain and snow

are erased

and for once I can communicate

lingering in your embrace.

~ ~ ~

“Place and space”

By Tess Goodnowott, San Luis Obispo

Place and space

present in space, lost in place

conglomeration of silent words

shaping lips \ audibly emerging

silent thoughts

twisted in the body, reverberating within the brain

back and forth

back and forth

relentless silent chatter.

You told me you couldn’t do it right now,

that you couldn’t be with me.

Then I see you so in love with her.

You call me, you are all smiles;

think about all you have broken.


Foreign speech making shapes

Mouth and lips coerced into movement

Incongruence between

the sounds they produce

and what rattles within.

Who are you anymore.

~ ~ ~


By Jon Clarke, San Luis Obispo

Some things you take to your grave.

Some things you live with,

and you die with.

Something you did,

something done to you.

It eats at you

like acid.

It just never goes away.

You never forget it.

You never think, it’s behind me.

It makes you want to cry

when everyone else is laughing.

Everyone is talking,

having a good time,

but not you.

You keep quiet.

You think about this thing.

Not a good time, not for you.

Some times are not good.

Some things gnaw away the good in you.

And you take it to your grave.

~ ~ ~


By Debra Prijatel Perkinson, San Luis Obispo


Things taught

Engrained in little minds – like a seed

Germinate, root and grow

Possessing a lifetime

Today do not matter

And, the teacher no longer cares or worries about the outcomes

They have forgotten

The student may now release that which no longer serves

They get to create a new existence

One of bliss and honoring

One’s own personal power known as the

‘The gift’ some say ‘the lesson’

~ ~ ~


By Melinda Kincaid, San Luis Obispo

We are all artists, begging for expression.

Exposing imposter candy grams.

Seeking sleeping Giants; wanting to wake the insides

And loose our cannons.

Unsuspecting wanderers walk into the light and shadow of fresh stretched canvas.

Pooling, drooling; Words or Verse; Rhythms and Melodies; Structures uncovered.

We toddle atop wobbly outcroppings; Stuttering and spitting, spirited symphony, until cacophony breeds Velocity, and We are spent in our expression.

Confession: We fear it’s nonsense with no substance

But, we are incumbents, Hell-bent; circumventing this fear, to bring voice, to what we feel we have no choice, but to release.

Release, Relent, Refill,

Our Chasm.

This Vastness has no Match in Housed and Harnessed Property.

~ ~ ~

“Live Symphony”

By Carmen Fojo, Los Osos

The heart is a musical instrument with its own rhythm and timbre.

Although shaped like a bagpipe, it is sonorous as a piano,

has the plaintiveness of a cello, and the determination of a drum.

It incessantly plays a live symphony.

When the heart meets another with similar rhythm and tone

they form a bond, and together achieve

the most lyrical movements of the symphony,

likened to a Bach variation or cantata.

Ah, but if the bond is disrupted through interference and fear

the heart then goes into shock and breaks;

that is when the symphonic movement ends,

as it modulates to a minor key for healing.

In time, the heart may meet another and intone lyrically again;

or it may come to the truth that all hearts

play in unison, when dissonance, and diverse chords

are allowed to take a part in the symphony.

The heart may even enlarge to intone with the universal rhythms

of the planets and stars, since they too are musical instruments

with which a heart that found the Light can bond.

~ ~ ~

»» 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