Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Where I’m From

I found this great little writing exercise on Danigirl’s blog. It seems to originate as a professional development project based on George Ella Lyon’s work. I thought it made for a cool post, but the next day one of my fellow teachers suddenly started talking about the heretofore unknown (to me) poet Lyon at an in-service meeting. Well, thought I, that’s some synchronicity for me.

Anyway, It seemed like a cool project to do with my kids, and being the good teacher that I am (and also the kind of person who enjoys these kinds of writing exercises) I figured I should test drive it first…

Where I’m From, an exercise in identity…

I am from maps, from National Geographic and surplus bombing charts of Vietnam used as tarps below our tents.

I am from green soccer fields, orange slices sucked through teeth at halftime and 2..4..6..8…who do we appreciate.

I am from the lonely buoy bell clanging in the bay on open-window summer nights. I am from old forests with forgotten headstones hidden in the undergrowth.

I am from the Smithsonian, concrete bunkers overgrown by jungle, that old monastery on the hill. From birdless gray Octobers and the golden light of northern summer, a fox curled up on the lawn.

I am from the scrub oak, juniper and palms, summer tomato plants and morning glory growing thick on a wire fence. I am from bluebonnets and prickly pear embedded in my palm.

I am from tacos and tamales on Christmas Eve. From Trivial Pursuit and gentleness, from Brushes, Griffins, Tomlinsons and Trouts. From the parrot we birdsat, who never learned to talk, but in our house, learned to laugh.

I am from meals with talk instead of TV, from books and magazines and a telescope pointed at Saturn’s rings.

From books are our friends and may the force be with you.

I am from the King James Bible, New England churches surrounded by three hundred year old graves. From Doubting Thomas and endless questions.

I’m from the cold Narragansett, “King” Arthur’s Illinois basketball court, both sides of the Revolution, and the Valley of the Sun, from home-baked cookies kept in the freezer, tortillas in the ‘fridge.

From Grace who said nothing of her past, from Dorothy who told everything, from Jim whose cursing made me laugh (my parents cringed) and Cecil whose tales I never got to hear.

I am from cluttered closet time capsules, vinyl photo albums, instamatic shots and slide shows of the sea, from treasure boxes and neat ordered files of school projects, drawings, homemade cards.

I am from the Colonial coast, the edge of jungle, the ring of fire, the ruins of Rome, the settled Comanche hills I now call home.

* * *

As a side project, I followed the links from Danigirl back along the trail of meme to see where it began, all the while enjoying the various takes along the way. It goes: Daysgoby to Spanglish to Lolabola to a staff development website.

Here’s the page that explains how to put it together. Give it a whirl.


  1. Oh I LOVE your version! I’m so glad you took up the challenge and even more pleased you’ll be sharing it with your students. This is wonderful.

  2. wow, it’s great to see it travel around like this. I love this because it gives your senses a taste of someone else’s experience. thought I should clarify I got it from Claude at Blogging in Paris.

  3. lolabola, The viral nature of this stuff is really fascinating. Thanks for the link to Claude’s blog and thanks for visiting mine.

    Danigirl, Thank you. It was a lot of fun to work out. Hopefully my kids will enjoy it when we get to it next month.

  4. Beautiful!

    Amazing, how one little thing can bring up so many memories, isn’t it?

  5. Glad you liked my entry, too. It was a very fun exercise. I think your students will love it. And I would love to hear some of their poems. Do you think you’ll be able to post a couple from them?

  6. Milaka, Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    It would not be appropriate to do post my students’ work, but I always encourage them to post their creative stuff on their own sites or MySpaces on their own time. I don’t know if any of them actually do or not. It would probably be way too dorky.

  7. daysgoby, Thanks for stopping by. It is. Also interesting is how these things circulate.

  8. I love this, and for some reason, I especially love the part about where you keep your treasures. To me, these poems wouldn’t be complete without that part.

Comments are closed.

© 2018 Coyote Mercury

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: