Saturday, September 3, 2016


I asked my writing class a few years ago to do a poem about themselves.  Although the poem is called an I Am Poem, it is not the same as you often find on the internet.

Sharon H. has submitted her poem to the blog, but what is even more wonderful is that a copy of her poem was posted on five windows of a building in front of a bus stop in her neighborhood. What an honor and what a statement about this wonderful neighborhood in times past.

Several members of the writing class met her for lunch and to view the poem.  Below is a photo of Sharon and the store front rendition.  Below is the full poem.  I hope you enjoy it as much as the class did.


I am from the wrong side of the cut.
The place where two powerful rivers meet
beneath the majestic bridge that frames St. Johns
The same bridge my mother threatens to jump from
when I misbehave.
The same polluted rivers that tempt me
on hot summer days.

I am from the working man's end of town
where the drums of the Salvation Army Band on the corner
drown out the western music blaring from the beer joints
I am from the smoke of the mills,
of ship's horns blowing in the quiet of night
to signal the bridge tender
A place where men carry lunch boxes
and women wear house dresses.

I am form World War 2, March of Dimes,
paper drives, rations, and 3 Roses whiskey.
I am Pug, the skinny girl with freckles and braids
named for her twin in the funny papers.
I am the first grandchild backward, awkward and mismatched.
Entertained and spoiled by bachelor uncles who smoke
Camel cigarettes and shoot craps at family gatherings.

I am from Saturday matinees with
Filipino babies impaled on Japanese bayonets and
Sunday drives with Japanese children playing
behind barbed wire.
I am from double Bubble gum, penny licorice, roller skates with keys and
handball played off the bricks of James John grade school.
I am from skinny legs with skinned knees
barefoot in the dry summer grass
barefoot in the warm summer rain.
Of robins and earthworms in the newly spaded garden
The quiet hum of honey bees in the sun and
angry roaring bumble bees in glass coffee jars

I am from the delicate Trillium growing on the dense forest floor
on Dixie mountain.
I am from the cold clear water from grandma's witched-well there.
I am from sweet goats milk I drink to fatten me up and
bitter tea made from Oregon Grape root to keep me healthy
I am from milk toast and Ovaltine, served with
cod liver oil and iodine.
I am from white bucks, kick pleats and horseshoe bangs.

I am from Western swing playing on the polished Philco console
on Saturday afternoons while supper cooked.
Playing again on Saturday nights with grownups
dancing on the faded linoleum floor.
Songs and guitar music flowing as fast as the alcohol
All seen from behind the cracked bedroom door.

I am from summers spent in saltwater and sand
with tide pools of starfish and sea anemone which close
at the touch of my toe.
I am looking for agates and swimming in the surf.
I am fishing for shiners from the mooring basin and
waiting for the changing tide.
I know the changes -- low tide, slack tide, high tide.
I see rust and corrosion, fog and mist, South and North jetties.
I hear diesel engines thumping as they pass the buoys
tossing and clanging in the chop.
I see Fishermen watching and waiting at the Yaquina Bay bar.
I hear Sea gulls squawking, fighting for fish scraps on their return.

I am from the canneries on the waterfront that
spew their waste into the bay
their smell defining the small fishing town of Newport
I am from shucked crab, clams and hotcakes for breakfast
thick white slabs of halibut, and salmon every day
fried, pickled, creamed, poached, and smoked
gorging all the while "the little children in China starve"

I am from "set up straight", "it's snowing down south", "slick as snot"
and "hotter than a sheriff's pistol".
I am from unions, solidarity and equal rights
An injury to one is an injury to all
I am form fair and square.
I am form St. Johns

Sharon H.
Feb 2011
James John Grade School 1942-1950
Roosevelt High School 1950-1954
ILWU Local 8 1980-1999

Thank you Sharon for a look at the past in your neighbor.
3 Sept 2016

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