Where I’m from poem

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“Where I’m From”

Where I’m From: Two Styles, Two Tones, Two Mentors — you only need one!

(Approach #1 Willie Perdomo: darker, more conflicted celebration of place that shaped my young adulthood)

Because I never know where to tell people I’m from,

they always want to know

I tell them I’m from Stockton,

But in my heart I know I’m from New Orleans.

Where I’m from, I’m not allowed to be from

I wasn’t born or raised there,

A hurricane interrupted my chance to earn my birthright.

Where I come from they eat red beans and rice on Mondays

We watch parades from the neutral ground on Napoleon

And I “make groceries” at the A & P.

You would believe me if you knew, “I bleed purple and gold!” (Links to an external site.)

Where I’m from is the corner of Fourth and Camp,

And where South Scott meets Canal.

I grew up in New Orleans.

I smelled humidity soaked flowers bloom

and drench the air with the sweet scent of magnolias and honeysuckle,

And I saw friends get lost in the democratic, always-open, we’ll-accept-anyone-bars

On the cocaine laden dark side of Decatur.

Where I’m from, you walk down the street, you look people in the eye and smile.

In the beginning, you smile in alliance, gratitude and acknowledgement

and say “Morning” to you elders

Then you learn to purse your lips, open your eyes wide with power

And offer up the head nod in feigned respect as you pass the company of men

Where I’m from, you have to tell people you won’t be a victim.

Where I’m from we eat at Theo’s Pizza, Juan’s Flying Burrito and Dante’s Kitchen.

Where I’m from we eat whatever we want, drink more than we should

And then drive home through narrow, pothole spotted streets

Lined with oak trees, shotguns and run down camel back houses.

Where I’m from porch sittin’ is an art and excess is never enough.

Where I’m from there are natives, and then there’s everyone else.

There are transients and gutter punks, west bankers and blind tourists.

Where I’m from there are kings of krewes and widows of the projects.

Where I’m from darkness lasts longer than decades

The battles of fine cultures, greedy nations and blended races emerge

In the jazz lit smoky nightclub, on the iron laced balconies

From the tears of those whose heart the city devours.

Where I’m from wedance in the streets as the trumpet parades death (Links to an external site.)

Where I’m from will quietly swallow your soul as the bartender pours your dividend.

And if, when, you turn your back on her

You depart broken, longing, nostalgic

Knowing that this place, this violent sinking city has the power to ruin,

but no where else on the planet will ever be home.