Where I’m From

I’m from lean-in-while-you-eat and tidy-up and get-down-let-ye!
I’m from table saws and tape measures,
from concrete dust and splinters
embedded in my father’s calloused hands.

I’m from money today and none tomorrow,
from don’t-be-around-while-he’s-paying-the-bills.
I’m from Hot 97 and K-Rock
from NJ Transit and mega malls.
I’m from little league playgrounds and super wedgies,
from bangers and mash and sausage and eggs.

I’m from the bow and the fiddle,
the warm brogue
and Exit 63 on the Garden State Parkway.
I’m from empty bedrooms
and voices that penetrate the walls
no matter how many pillows you put over your head.

I’m from walking away from fists at school
and being called a coward at home.
I’m from mistress love letters
and lightening bolts that severed my bedroom when I needed it most.

I’m from you’ve-got-to-be-the-strongest
because-you’re the oldest
and you’re brothers need you!
from back rubs for mom
and damp, salty tee shirts that collected her tears.

I’m from the same mistakes that gave life to resentment,
from the same patch of earth
that collects the seeds of who we grow to be,
from the forgiveness that tasted better than bitterness
from the healing that took years to let in
from the backyard that now decays like a forgotten civilization.

I’m from I-don’t-give-a-fuck,
but actually I totally do.
I’m from hey-me-over-here, someone look at me!
but omg, omg, omg please stop looking at me!
I’m from all of the places that followed me into adulthood,
and all the ones I will never go again
with my family,
when I have one.

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