Pythian Games

put on your track shoes and write the miles

Archive for the ‘Identity Poems’ Category

The Wild Hunt

with 4 comments

(A memory from the Chocolate Box)

The recent storms brought back memories of my childhood in Ireland, when I was told that the thunder and lightning were made by the Wild Hunt. To me, there was nothing more exciting or terrifying than to imagine the black horses and their dark riders loose on a stormy night.

The Wild Hunt

On stormy nights, when the Wild Hunt Rides,
And there is no balm that soothes,
I watch the sky for the flash of their swords
And the thunder of their hooves.

Their horses black as the leaden clouds
Buck and charge the sky.
The mountains shake as they raise their heads
And echo a warrior’s cry.

What prey do they seek on these stormy nights,
What leaves the scent of blood?
What cowers in fear before the Ride
That comes in a raging flood?

It is man that they hunt through the dark of night.
It is we that cower and pray.
Yet, how the heart leaps at their warrior cries
As they thunder on their way.

On stormy nights, when the Wild Hunt rides,
There is no balm that soothes.
But we watch the sky for the flash of their swords
And the thunder of their hooves.


Written by Gail Kavanagh

May 28, 2009 at 8:49 am

5-6 word memoirs – a Haiku life…

with 2 comments

Someone in my writing group suggested doing summaries of your life in 6 words-

seems like a haiku life almost, anyway did a few in 5/6 words- here they are.


Ocean girl dives for poetry dreams.

I look for words out windows.

Rain is my memory eulogy.

Dry plants beat my brother’s coffin.

Mother dreams big daughter banker.

Father dreams big daughter academic.

Daughter dreams big great parent.

Brother dreams sister stops hopeless dancing.

Sister dreams brother stops hopeless attitude.

Yellow are my feathers to fly.

Blue are my weaknesses denied.

(c) june perkins- words and images all rights reserved.

More of June’s Work can be found at World Citizen Dreaming

another year another flower

Written by June

May 7, 2009 at 11:45 pm

Whose Hands?

with 6 comments



I remember her hands, slim and graceful,

gently rounded fingernails

sometimes painted with a soft rose nailpolish,

sometimes cut up from yardwork or from building something.


Hands that could wield a hammer or a needle,

 pounding work or delicate work,

                sometimes doing construction as when building her house

                sometimes doing embroidery or cruel needlework.



Hands that made crocheted gifts for Christmas one year and

hand drawn with the recipient’s interest painted on tee shirts the next. 

                sometimes making and carving candles

                sometimes making beaded flower arrangements for all.


Hands that hammered two by four’s

hands that carried large cement blocks

                sometimes up scaffolding while building a chimney

                sometimes making a retaining wall.


Hands that made things from scratch

hands reddened from boiling water or strained black raspberries,

                sometimes making tofu or bread

                sometimes canning veggies and making jellies.


Hands that hammered wallboard

hands that spackled and sanded each wallboard joint

                sometimes painting ceilings and walls

                sometimes slapping on tar to waterproof basement walls.


Hands that danced through the air

as explanations needed visual expression,

                sometimes in graceful dancing

                sometimes in pointed conversations.


Hands that changed diapers

hands that delighted to convey love to others through touch, 

                sometimes to hold and caress

                sometimes to massage and heal.


But what has happened to those hands?

Whose hands do I now see?

                sometimes bloated from water retention

                sometimes aching from too much work

                sometimes not seeming like the same hands of yore

                sometimes I wonder: whose hands are they?


They are my hands now: aging, not as graceful

hands that convey the passage of time,

                sometimes still able to massage and heal

                sometimes to make bread or draw

                sometimes to build something or paint

sometimes pull weeds and plant.


More likely than not they are dry, needing lotion

or aching from too much writing or weeding

                always wanting to impart love and touch

                always wanting to distill a little more beauty

                                into gardens, or recipes, or creative gifts

                                into life, work, people, love.


They are my hands now—no one else’s

 I am proud of the legacy they reveal

                only to those who have the wisdom to see

                life enhances, not detracts, from the beauty of hands.



Written by thalia

September 9, 2008 at 10:50 am

A Woman’s Work

with 7 comments

Here is a poem I wrote years ago that seems appropriate for this prompt. It’s still hanging around the web somewhere on a couple of poetry sites. I was prompted to dig it out by Kezza’s post and her reply to my comment.

Here we honor the work of woman
The dirty, disregarded, essential work of woman;
The healing, cleansing nurturing work of woman.
Here we honor woman’s work.
Our woman’s hands are working hands,
Supple to knead the dough, shape the bread,
Strong to wash the linen, lift the child,
Scrub the floors, scour the pots
And banish all that is corrupt.
Soft to heal the sick, touch the brow,
Gentle to mix the healing herbs,
Blessed to do the work
That feeds and clothes and heals humanity.
Give us woman’s work to do and watch
The wounded heal, the tables prosper,
Watch the children grow plump with in our care,
Watch the garden flourish and the linen dry.
Watch the men lay down their arms for ours.
And never underestimate a woman’s work.

Written by Gail Kavanagh

September 8, 2008 at 12:16 am

Posted in Identity Poems

Cicada Hands

with 6 comments

This was written for a friend on flickr and is in response to his photo of his Dad’s hands.

Dad & the Cicadas 2004, originally uploaded by Mr. TRONA.

For Mr Trona and family

Father has changed now
But always I shall see his
Cicada hands
The gentle bend of their fingers
As beseeching time beckons.

His memory is not the sum of him
Nor is his skin
Not even the words that gurgle out of the
Brook of his mouth.

Father is here now as he was
Back then time beckoned him
To where he is now.

Outside of time is mother’s love
A Wife’s love,
My love, his love
Nestled in cicada hands.

((c) Image Mr Trona, (c) Words Gumbootspearlz

More of June’s Work can be found at World Citizen Dreaming

Written by June

September 7, 2008 at 3:39 am

Time On My Hands (written as response to “hands” prompt)

with 6 comments

Most of the time I don’t notice it.

Getting older, that is.

I think of some punchline about how if you don’t like what it is you’re looking at, turn down the lights.

Maybe the problem was that my eyes were dilated.

Sitting in the opthalmologist’s examination room for half an hour — which was 25 minutes longer than I was told the wait would be — seemed like an eternity. The room was dark, except for several lighted buttons built into a cabinet and a flourescent wall washer dimly illuminating part of one wall above the sink.

I sat for a few minutes. Then paced. The room was really too small for a satisfying pace. Five small steps, then turn; five more, and turn again. Suddenly that seemed ridiculous. I sat back down. Raised my arms above my head and stretched. Curled them down to my feet and stretched. It felt good.

Had I known the wait was going to be so long, I might have made a phone call, written a blog post, made a grocery list, written out a “mind dump” (that’s another story), or Something. But five minutes is no time at all, not when you’re waiting for the door to open any moment, waiting for the doctor to come in and shine her bright light directly into your naked, vulnerable eyeballs.

After all the sitting and the pacing and the stretching, she still had not arrived to join me in that frigid room, and so I sat some more. My dilated eyes focused on my hands arranged quietly on the fabric of my black cotton skirt.

My hands hurt, but I had not noticed, had not wished to notice, how arthritis has begun to sculpt hollows in the bones and heap up lumps in the knuckles.

Written by Beth

September 6, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Posted in Identity Poems

Virtue Hands

with 2 comments

For Kerry’s prompt on hands- I wrote this a while ago but it seems to fit with your theme.
I love taking photographs of hands. I’ll post a collage when I find a chance to make it.

Virtues Hands

Virtues hands virtues hands

Palms that knead the bread that could feed us all.

Fingers you strum the heart of a guitar

Type the words of freedom’s song

Making daisy chains for him

It’s your homage to a king.

Hands that plant a tiny seed

Words becoming a mighty tree.

Virtues hands virtues hands

You dig and plant

You nurture you sow

You’re the handprints in the wind

And the angels put you there

You lead and you do

What the Hidden words say.

Virtues hands virtues hands

Palms that knead the bread that could feed us all

Fingers you strum the heart of a guitar

Type the words of freedom’s song

(c) words and image all rights reserved Gumbootspearlz, June Perkins. 2008

More of June’s Work can be found at World Citizen Dreaming

Written by June

September 3, 2008 at 11:58 pm

Rain Mirror

with 8 comments

contemplation river

My mirror watches rain
It splashes out my reflection
As that reflected meets that outside the mirror

Fingers dance in mirror movements
Reflection and I yawn,
We sing, we commune to find out
Who is real
I or reflection
I or the rain
The rain or myself

Rain dances down the mirror
I see the butterfly flower tree outside the window
The green tree frog suctioned to the window
I declare “I am the real
You are the reflected”

My reflection takes my words and processes them
Says nothing but hears the rain
Smells the rain, longs to touch the rain

Mirror rain, reflect raindrops
Raindrops reflect rain mirror
Rain watches mirror my-self.

By Gumbootspearlz

Written today (:

Inspired by the Mirror writing exercise Mirror Writing

More of June’s Work can be found at World Citizen Dreaming

Written by June

June 12, 2008 at 12:10 am

Identity Poem (Untitled)

with 3 comments

I am from the meadows and lonely moors, from sunshine and rain.
I am from the vast library of pasts and future dreams.

I am from the the lavender waves, the blood red roses.
I am from books and dry wit, lawyers and teachers and wanderers.

I am from individual peculiarity and family unity,
From the stories of war times and peace times.

I am from cynicism and faith, contradictory yet co-existing.
I’m from all over the world, of diverse cultures and planes and languages.

I am from boxes of fading photographs and ancient records,
The family stories, handed down from generations.

I am all these, and myself as well.

©Alexis Lozano,

*note to self: Oh wow! look! it actually posted! 😀

Written by foxndragon

April 22, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Posted in Identity Poems

Tagged with

Identity Poem — Barbara

with 4 comments

I am from family:
from a genealogy traced back to the good ship DeGroot out of Friesland in 1659 and another that begins and ends with no place name but Poland.

I am from sauerbraten and potato pancakes, kapusta and kielbasa; from pride and good blood and a loathing of lies;
I am from Roman Catholic and Protestant;
from Easter lilies and raisin-studded babka;
from decorating eggs–to egg-tapping.

I am from stories:
of how they met in Sears and how much she disliked him;
of what the tree buds looked like the April I was born.

I am from history:
from Roosevelt and Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy;
I am from a war every twenty years or so;
I am from the first steps on the moon, to the Twin Towers and a planet in the midst of global warming.

I am from polio epidemics and “Will she live?”
to survival but legs that no longer ran.
I am from hospitals and therapy and
missing my first grade play,
from tutors and home-schooling,
from summers playing endless skelly games with best friends,
to winters of isolation with the Bobsy Twins and Nancy Drew.

I am from a lack of all grandparents but one, who rarely spoke, but read the newspaper from cover to cover every evening and brought me books from the same library where I worked for nearly twenty years.

I am from miracle stories:
of an uncle who died at seven listening to the angels sing;
of a vision of Christ as life was saved by one more pint of blood;
of faith renewed in a house blazing with celestial light.

I am from stories of WWII:
of bone-chilling foxholes and purple hearts;
of a body invaded by bullets and shrapnel;
of missing the “Battle of the Bulge” by being thrown in the “clink”.
I am from a grandpa buried on Christmas Eve, a grandma dying eight months later, a father deployed the day after the funeral.
I am from hand addressed envelopes to buy formula, from censored letters so blacked-out nothing was visible between My darling wife and Your loving husband.

I am from a cord of three; of hard work shared, of love for nature, laughter, bread-baking, ocean travel and one another.

I am of stories and language, enthusiasm and creativity, of classical music, pastel portraits, of manuscripts unpublished but finished. I am of porches and magnolia trees, of chatting with neighbors over the back fence and phone calls measured by hours, not minutes. I am of depression and coping, of falling down and getting up, of failure and success, of missed opportunities and roads less traveled, of lifelong learning and growing my soul, of meditation and prayer, of fellowship and gratitude.

I am from generations never met, to a circle nearing completion. I am from faith, love, and thanksgiving for a life blessed beyond measure.

Written by porchsitter

March 28, 2008 at 1:36 pm

Posted in Identity Poems

My Identity Poem

with 10 comments

Seeking the Identity of a GwenGuin 

And all that is bright 

I am from:

Needlework baskets

By the women’s’ chairs,

And United Auto Workers’ founders.

I grew up on stories of my

Grandmother DeShaw

Passing meals through the windows

Of the

Buick Powerhouse to my

Grandfather during

The sit-down strikes

Demonstrating the power of a

United workforce. 

I am from the two-story

Farmhouses of the

Northern Mid-West,

Built with sheltered doorways

So you could still

Get out of your house despite

‘Lake Effects Snow’

And windblown drifts up to the

Bedroom windows of the upper floor.

I am from rows of gleaming jars

Filled with the spiced crab apples,

Pickled red beets, and

Pickled Ring Bologna made from

Recipes passed on for


I am from the Great Lakes,

In all their moods and seasons;

I am from coming to love the

Sonoran Desert

For her determination,

Adaptability and passion.

I am from standing

On the shore of the

Pacific Ocean,

Wondering how many millions of

Others she touched too; and

I am from having

Crater Lake

Burned upon the retina of my memory. 

I grew up with

Sunday Dinner after Mass,

And dimples dancing with

Everyone’s’ smiles and words:

I am descended of

‘Big Joe’ DuBay,

Hyachinthe Charlesbois’

And the Compeaus

Of Compeau Blvd.,

In Detroit, Michigan

I am from

Daughters of the American Revolution,

And family that have given some

And all

For the U.S.A.

In all of the

Wars this country has fought. 

I am from

Libraries of books

And music

In every home,

Cards and dice that have been

Handed down for generations.

I pass on the photographs and

Verbal tradition of generations past,

I share the songs that defined

So many childhoods.

I am from radios tuned to



Country and Western,

The Blues,


All flavours of Rock and Roll,

And more. 

I am defined by being

Happy and grateful

To be able to help others,

And seeing family

As not determined

By genetics alone;

I am carrying on

The tradition of wanting

To do good

For the sake of doing good.

I am from treating others

With kindness and respect,

And celebrating differences

Instead of fearing them. 

I am from the love of

Reading and learning, and

Love of laughter that has

Helped all of us survive

The worst times in out lives.

I share my respect

Of the written word with









Nieces and Nephews;

All of us learned

To love beauty in all her forms,

And express that love in our own ways. 

I am from being

Unashamed to cry

At the touching parts of a



Or song,

As well as being comfortable

With cheering with joy.

I am from settling on the floor

To play with kids

On their level,

And loving pets like children

Without forgetting

They are animals. 

I am from

Lessons the needed no words


“Gwen, don’t do anything to another

Living creature if you don’t want

It done to you.”

“Oh, Gwen Marie! 

 You are so


I am so proud to be

Your Mother.” 

I am from Catholic family reunions,

Always so large,

They had to be held in a

Rented hall because

No-one’s house could ever

Hope to hold everyone!

I am from the


Dinners that were


After Mass;

With two kinds of

Meat, and




And Breads with butter,

Green onions dipped in salt,

Celery stuffed with‘College’ cheese.

Two kinds of homemade cake

With ice cream. 

I am from



Scots,  and

Irishmen emigrating from

Their homelands to

Canada and the

United States.

I was weaned to

French Meat Pies,

Oyster Stuffing in

Our Holiday Turkey,

“No matter how much we make,

We never make enough

Pecan Balls!”,

Glissant in chicken au jus,

Chicken and Dumplings, and

Girl Scout Cookies in the freezer.

I am from

Chippewa people that

Accepted a stranger, far from

France and Frenchmen,

Married him into their families and

Then chose him as their chief.  

I am from people

Who have been cured with

Rice and Tomato Soup for colds,

Vernors floats for sore throats,

Hot tea with honey, lemon and

A little dash of whiskey always

Chased away the sniffles and sneezes:

I have added to this pharmocopæa

Bay Leaf Oil for many things,

Chamomile tea in the bath

Lavender pillows at our heads, and

Minestrone simmering on the stove

To chase away the blah tummies. 

I am from

Ancient Noblemen, and

Dairy farmers,

Bare-knuckles boxers,

19th century loggers,

Horse Thieves and

Faith Healers,

Factory Workers,



Hard working husbands, whose

Hands built

Neighbourhoods that

Stood for a century.

Stay-at-home Moms,

Brothers and Sisters

That shared

Spirit-deep bonds of


Illegal aliens,

Barkeeps and


I am from afternoons spent

Watching National Geographic,

The Undersea World of

Jacques Cousteau, and

Understanding what he said,

No matter how much

His love for the seas deepened his

French accent,

I am from watching


Let’s Make A Deal,

What’s My Line?, and

All In The Family.

Evenings when 4 and 5

Generations would gather

Playing Po-Ke-No and

‘Tunk’ rum,


Scrabble, and

When they came along



Trivial Pursuit,and

Learning to do

Crossword Puzzles,

Cryptograms or

Other word games. 

I was immersed in all

The men repairing to the

Garage, communing with

Shots of Whiskey,

Icy beers, and the

‘Small’ TV tuned in to the

Game, whether it be



Hockey, or


Done while all the

Women settled in the


Drank coffee,

Swapped Recipes, and

Current Events as their

Children gathered ‘round the

Toy boxes, hand fashioned by

Relatives never met;

Peacefully sharing

Erector sets©,

Lincoln Logs© made of real wood,

Tonka© and

Matchbox© vehicles,

Green plastic army men and trucks,

Plastic farm animals and

Jungle creatures,

Colorforms© dolls,

Colouring books with crayons and

Coloured pencils. 

I am from

Photo Albums in nearly

Every room,

Overflowing boxes of snapshots,


Collections and

Images carefully preserved,

Stories handed down three centuries.

I am the saver of

Great-Great Grandmothers’

Hand Embroidery and tatting,

Silver spoons of the

American Presidents-

Purchased so long ago

John F. Kennedy’s spoon

Is inscribed with his

Term of Office as(1960-         ),

Plates that came to

America from

France through


Canada and into

Michigan before they

Journeyed to

Arizona and

Oregon with me. 

And Dark

I am from

Angry divorces, and

Broken Corning ware,

Food Stamps;

Christmases that mutated into

Drunken brawls poisoned with

Police interventions and

Emergency Room visits. 

I am from

The house that had

Piles of laundry that

Were never washed.

Dirty dishes in

Every room,

Bedding that was thin

Mismatched and uncoordinating, and

Towels worn thin from overuse. 

I am from

Dandelions and

May Apples

The dirt backyard that

Never knew sod or seed;

I am from

The cracked sidewalk,

Dirty driveway, and

Ripped screens,

The missing storm windows

Inadequate insulation and

Leaking gas heater. 

I am from


Alcoholism, and



The ugly side of

Great Grandma DuBay, and

Granny Cackle

Nèe Ford,

Whose family believed her

To be well when she was

Mean and manipulative.  

I am from,

“You can’t do that,

(I’m the musician)!” and

“Be quiet,

Daddy has too sleep.”.


You stink like a brewery!”,

“Helinore!  Bring me a beer!”, and

“Dammit George, you horse’s ass!”

I am from the

Ubiquitous bottles of booze

And hung over men,

Verbally beaten by angry wives.

I am from tiptoeing,

Whispered orders, and




I am from

Sneaking sips of

Grandpa’s bottle when

Grandma wouldn’t see, and

Being told,

“Don’t tell your

Grandma or your

Mom, they’ll kill me for sure.”


“See!  Don’t that taste awful?

You don’t want to drink that do you?”

Followed by a

Delighted snicker at the child’s

Face from the taste of

Cheap liquor. 

I am from

“I’m a louse about religion.”


“What do you mean,

“Go to church…”?”

“If I went through those doors,

I know I’ll get zapped by lightning!!”

“Did I really say that?

I’ll go to Hell for sure now!” 

Struggling to understand

“Your Father doesn’t want to be a part

Of the family circle.

That means that

Our circle is smaller,

And harder to break.”

Before the tears truly fell,

Briskly told,

“We can’t sit around being sad,

We need to get up and make

Sure that we can

Make it without him.”

I am from







New York City, and

We have drunk


Imported Beers, and



Bacardi and

Captain Morgan Rum,

Jack Daniels and

Single Malt Unblended Scots Whisky,



Squirt, and

Grenadine, and



Knowing too much

Too soon.

I am from



Overly dramatic,


Angry and

Withdrawn drunks. 

I am from


Silent and angry;

Swallowing their rage

In slow painful nibbles,





I am from Grandma DeShaw,

Slamming cupboard doors

With an angry slash for a mouth.

I am from Grandma DuBay,

So angry with


That she sat and picked




Out of

Grandpa DuBay’s

First new suit

After the

Great Depression

Was over.

I am from

Uncle John,

Having flashbacks to

‘Nam and doing the low-crawl

Through the house

In his sleep,

Unless someone woke him,

Then he became violent

And couldn’t be stopped. 

I am from

Slaps, and

Whippings with a

Leather belt on my

Bare butt.

I am from bruises

That were hidden,



Wept into a

Balding stuffed toy, or

A pillow,

Without pillowslip,

Stained and flattened from

Of overuse and


I am from the scars that

Never show,

Wounds that still

Burn in the silence of the night.

I am from the pictures

With crooked frames

And broken glass; the

Knick-knacks with cracks and

Glue seams that

Mar their beauty and their

Inherent worth. 

Meet in my Actions and my dreams.



Written by gwenguin1

March 23, 2008 at 1:22 pm

Opening Lockfast Places

with 13 comments


Rodney (1)

First voyage
Male convicts on board
Departure Port: Portland (Dorset) Departure Date: 23 Aug 1850
Arrival Port: Hobart Arrival Date: 28 Nov 1850

Convicts landed: 308

Died on board:

Archives Office of Tasmania, Guide to Convict Records by Ship Reference.
Bateson, Charles, The Convict Ships 1787-1868, Brown, Son & Ferguson Ltd 1985.
Broxam, Graeme, Shipping Arrivals and Departures, Tasmania, 1843-1850, Roebuck, 1998, p227.
Phillips, Margaret E., Australian Joint Copying Project, Handbook Part 7, Public Records Office Admiralty Records, National Library of Australia 1993, pp 75-77.
Archives Office of Tasmania, Convict Department, Registers of Convict’s Deaths, 10 Jun 1840-31 Mar 1846, 25 Nov 1845-5 Jul 1874, (Ref: CON 63).

Convicts on board listed by Researchers

ALLEN Charles
BROWN William
EXALL Joseph
ROBSON John Boyd
WADE William
WARE Charles

Non-convicts on board listed by Researchers

MATTHEWS Joseph & Sarah – Military Pensioner
TYNAN Andrew – Military Pensioner
I sit looking at the jigsaw pieces
Studying them
Seeing how they will fit together
To form an impression
make whole
the broken mold
From which I sprang
I am the one
Who carries on the tradition of
Opening Lockfast Places

Identity Poem

with 8 comments

My Identity

First Attempt


I am from the leather hand-tooled of the shoe’s sole hand-crafted from the artesian cattle high up along the precipes of the Alps and from the palm of a good man’s hand.

I am from the wide river deltas dripping fertile mud and debris as waters overflow their borders in order to renew our land, our crops for the coming growing seasons.

I am the seed on the head of a stalk of wheat planted too early and too deep, yet still determined to push and to shove my way forward towards growth, towards rebirth.

I am from the Ancient Ones and from the Outer Limes, from beyond All Space and beyond All Time, from Bella Luna, from Mme. Soleil, and from bluest Father Sky.

I am from the nest burrowed deep within the earth, all lined with grass and love and fur, with all my children and my treasures surrounding me and from one cave to another beneath the moonlight only do we dare to tread.

From the death of the black hearted spider and the house burning down to the ground,

I am from the ashes, the shattered remains.  Where once stood the house, now lay broken window panes, tattered electric bits and tethered wires stripped of their purposes.  There stand I, like the Phoenix, like his eye, bourn from damage and pain, pulling myself along til I too can die.

I am from the Olde Country, fed up on cabbage and potato, taught to love the Sun, to shame the Devil, taught never to run, nor laugh out loud, never to have any fun.

From the frail endings beginning at the slice of the guillotine, the sinking of ships, the merciless Burnings, to the Wise who turned and walked away, abandoning the dregs of Humanity and the Flood that came to purify us all.

I am from Nowhere.  I am from Nothing.  Here I am.  But I am not.  Not alive.  Not dead.  Unwilling.  Unable.  Uncomprehending.  I have no beginning, no ending.  The never was.  The never will be.  But I never ever give up or stand down.

written by hand by Raven TK

Written by Tabitha Low

March 20, 2008 at 5:04 pm

Posted in Identity Poems, RavenTK

I Am: The Poem

with 14 comments

I am from tuna fish sandwiches on Wonder Bread,
from Barbie dolls and Stingrays with banana seats.

I am from the rough stucco walls of a small tract house,
baking in the sun of a golden land.

I am from palm trees and sweet gardenia,
from juicy lemons plucked from a backyard tree.

I am from opening presents on Christmas eve
and then again on Christmas morning.

I am from roaming tribes of barbarians,
hardscrabble Yankees and Indiana farmers,
from grips and greensmen on the MGM lot,
from women who made egg custard in blue willow cups.

I am from raucous laughter and bawdy jokes,
from straight-shooting, between-the-eyes honesty.

I am from “what goes around, comes around”
and “everything happens for a reason”.

I am from Congregationalists, Lutherans, Baptists and Mormons.
I am from mediums who had séances in the parlor.
I am by the Book but respect all others who chose a different way.
I glory in the revelation of nature.

I am from a father who took me to the library three times a week.
I am from a mother who drew whipped cream smiley faces on pancakes when I was sick.

I am from faded photographs of straight-laced women in Victorian skirts,
from ancestors I do not know except from notes in a plastic box.

I live in the shadow of the Greatest Generation striving to make a mark in my own.

L. Gloyd © 2008

Written by Pelican1

March 20, 2008 at 3:39 am

Posted in Identity Poems

Tagged with

The Bergman Odyssey

with 11 comments

Swedish Flag

(from Identity Poem Prompt – © 2008- by Kerry Vincent)

Dedicated to my mother, Gloria Ellen Bergman


Preparedness by Edwin Markham

For all your years prepare

and meet them ever alike:

When you are the anvil bear –

when you are the hammer, strike.


I am from corn-on-the-cob, homemade blackberry jam, Folgers coffee, and buttered coffeecake from the Jewel Tea man.  I am from my grandma’s small white farm house on the American prairie, coal country.  Since then they built a nuclear plant to power Chicago suburbs; it is practically in grandma’s back yard.

I am from red ripe home-grown tomatoes, cucumber salad, mashed potatoes and good brown gravy.  I am from family picnics were they had soda pop for the kids and Old Style beer for the adults.  Uncle Sonny played polkas on his accordion and my aunts schottisched around the kitchen when they were cleaning up the dishes.

I am from Axel, Martha, Lars, Vendla Valentina, Hulda, Hjalmar, Gunilla, and Gloria.


I am from smart, hard-working, artistic peasant stock, farmers, housewives, blacksmiths, bridge builders, fishermen, waitresses, water-colorists, concert pianists, from families who always just scraped by but were too proud to accept charity.  During the Great Depression, my mom’s family ate fish from the Illinois River, berries from the woods, and lard smeared on homemade bread.  Grandma would can plain blackberries and tell the children, “Maybe when we open the jars we’ll have money for sugar.”  Remembering, Mom would smile a little and say, ”We were poor, but we were happy…”

I am from strong women who had many babies and planted vegetable gardens and volunteered at the church and made their own soap and brought the men home from the tavern before their whole paycheck was gone.  They learned to suffer in silence and not complain aloud.  I remember listening to the grown-ups talk around Grandma’s kitchen table, over many cups of strong coffee, proudly telling stories of how they survived hard times and lived to tell the tales later…

My mother’s people are from Smaland and Halsingland, Sweden, near the Orefors glassmaking factories.  They immigrated to the United States around the turn of the 20th century, seeking to make a better life for the children.  The families settled in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Two little girls were left behind and went sent for later, coming across the Atlantic Ocean by themselves.

My grandpa was 14 years old when his family arrived in Little Falls, Minnesota.  The first day in America he went out to explore his new country, and got lost in the woods for 3 days and 3 nights.  He was hungry, alone, frightened by animal sounds and pestered by mosquitoes.  On the 4th day he found a dirt road.  A man coming along in a horse and buggy picked him up.  Grandpa did not know English and the man did not know Swedish, but they went into town and asked if anyone had lost a boy.  Grandpa was happily reunited with his family, but for the rest of his life, when he’d had a few drinks, he would tell the traumatic story over and over again.  My mother wishes she could hear him tell it once more, but he died in 1964.

My ancestors ate pickled herring and hardtack.  I like Swedish gingersnaps, blackberry cobbler, and strong coffee.  I automatically say “Ja, ja” when I am visiting my relatives; but I don’t drink beer at all.  Some customs I adopted, some I didn’t. 

Today I am a cube farmer, working in an office; I have no skills in the garden; I’d be useless on a farm.  But I am still proud to have descended from Vikings, from good solid peasant stock.  I helped my mom put together her family genealogy, typing, writing, scanning photos, making copies, collating, designing a cover page, binding, mailing the packages.  We each have different skills, and use them as best we can, to help each other, to help the family. 

It is our way.

Written by kvwordsmith

March 19, 2008 at 4:33 pm