Pongo Project Journal

Sharing stories of our work with teens
Oct 29
Where I Come From

What do we mean when we talk about “Where I Come From”? 

“Where I Come From” is often about more than a place, it’s about something deep in us, the world of our childhood and family. But more than that, it’s about love, the lessons of love, and sometimes our disappointments with love. It’s about the legacy of love in us, from the time when love defined us. “Where I Come From” is about who we are. 

And when the legacy of love is imperfect, it doesn’t define us less. If anything it defines us more. We carry the scars and tenderness from imperfect love. We might have a sublime but misunderstood sensitivity. And poets use that sensitivity to write with insight about a complicated world. 

It’s my pleasure in this blog to share the last two winners of the Pongo Poetry Prize, the poems “Where I Come From” (July 2012) and “I’m Non-Replaceable” (April 2012). I’ve also included links to the three poems from each quarter that received awards of Honorable Mention. The Pongo web site has a writing activity to help anyone write a “Where I Come From” poem. Check it out!

Where I Come From
by a young man, age 16

I'm from a street where evil is its fate. There is no hope, but could we have one last chance?

I'm from faith in where God sees me.

I'm from a long line of people who are just the same every day. We pass and we don’t see the things that people, that can’t see, see.

I'm from confusion about my dad not being there for me, and not taking time to be with me.

I'm from laughter over my friends, my friend M, and the things we used to do together.

I come from a family that don’t care about school and do drugs, and I choose not to do the same.

I'm from love, and I know that because they take care of me, and I really miss my dad, and I can’t see him, but I am not mad at him because of what he did.

I'm from fear, especially when I think about all the memories that were bad, and then screams fill the room.

I come from a long line of folks who have died.

I come from experiences like evil everywhere, and look around and see nothing but crying.

I come from bad cities and bad places. There is nothing I can do, but if there was, I would stop it if I could.

And I wish my life would become a name for fame, I have no pain.

That's where I'd like to be from.

I’m Non-Replaceable
by a young woman, age 14 

I'm non-replaceable
At least I think
I'm more than a person
could be gone in 3 blinks

There's things I could be
100 things i'm not
If i love a boy
I'd give all i got

I suck at rhyming
But it’s what i love to do
I could be solving a problem
And forget without a clue

I'm in love with the thought of love
But I grew up with hate
When my dad was messed up
I'm the one who paid for his mistakes 

When my world crashed down
And when my mother tried to beat her monsters
There i would be by her side
I practically lived in that hospital 

So, i made mistakes
And they probably weren't  the best
But i'd cut through thick and thin
To get out of this mess.

Honorable Mention, July 2012
If My Fist Could Speak
This Is Who You Are to Me
The Way You Sang

Honorable Mention, April 2012
Where I Come From (#3)
Empty Body
This Is Who You Are to Me