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Poem: Where I'm From

Updated: Nov 8, 2019

Poetry reading at Avant Garden

My first poetry reading, ever. I've written a lot, but never read until a few nights ago.

Here's the poem I read at Avant Garden


To the people who ask me where I'm from:

I answer: "I'm from North Dakota."

We begin to talk; you start to pry

Maybe you think it's humdrum, or maybe it's that I cannot lie.

Somehow you get it out of me that I'm not just from North Dakota

I wish I would tell you not one more iota.

Instead the words that are released:

"I'm from the Middle-East."

"Where from in the Middle-East?" you say, like it's prolific.

I was specifically unspecific! How could you ask it anyway?

Didn't you...


That's all I do.


About the morals I was raised with

And my own decorum, averse to this newly opened forum.

"I'm from Syria," I answer like I have a cancer.

I think the questioning's done, the prying over.

Then I see your face a giant question.

Please, please, I think, don't make this transgression.

"Do you have family over there?" you ask, completely unaware.

My mouth fills up with everything I want to say:

Who are you to ask me such a loaded question?

How dare you so casually ruin my good day?

Weren't you informed of the news?

Haven't you heard the terrorist's progression?

Did you realize this a sensitive subject?

Asking to think of my childhood desecrated?

Perhaps there's internet in the camps for the defect?

You assume I am an orphan -

Not worrying if family's been mutilated?

Maybe you think: everyone's happy and OK?

That my schoolyard friends are all healthy and alive?

That their jobs and country are not in disarray?

Do you expect this'll make us friends?

Because, I promise you this companionship won't survive.



Is all I do.

My family raised me better than that; my shoulders fall flat.

When the words finally tumble out, my voice real low

I answer: "I do not know."

Because I was not brought up to lie, or be an intolerant vulture.

No, not in either culture.

So, to the people who are being chum,

Asking me where I'm from:

Just accept that I'm from Fucking North Dakota.

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