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Where We’re From: A Collaborative Poem, by students from the School District of Philadelphia

This is a disclaimer.

A What?

A disclaimer.

For What?

To let them know.



This is a disclaimer to let everyone here know they will not see a poem about Philly being the cradle of Liberty

And by the time this poem is done you won’t hear anyone say “ The Liberty Bell is wher I’m from.”

This is a disclaimer to warn everyone that we, the performers will not talk about our experiences at the Kimmel Center.

Because I was only in the lobby the one time I entered.

We will not talk about the constitution center or independence mall

Or William Penn who stands tall on City Hall

And though we have nice flow

None of us grew up in the house of Edgar Allen Poe

Or Besty Ross – Yo!

You want to know why we talk about any of those places???

Because nobody lives there.

I am from hopscotch and jailbreak.

The Good Humor man and Tastycake

I’m from penny candy from the corner store

And bike rides through the park

I’m from capture the flag

From puppet shows and porch sales

I am from summers at the Jersey shore

I am from fire sprinklers and block parties in the summer

I am from skateboarding in Love Park to
Running full court ball till after dark.

I’m from Phillies’ games and
Sixers! and
E-A-G-L-E-S- Eagles!!!

I am from visa papers

I am from Hong Kong
Not the ‘New York” of China” Hong Kong
But Hong Kong fading off of the mountain’s feet.

I am from summer visits to see family in Martinique
From the blue oceans of the Caribbean clean and clear for miles.

I am from beautiful Soeul Korea

I am from Ethiopia,
from Afghanistan,

I am from Europe,
from Ireland,
and Poland
From Germany

From Sweden and the white cold north

I am from Celts and
and Slavs

I’m from Lithuania,
and the Ukraine

I am from the darkest bayous in the Deep South
to the biggest houses in the far northeast
And I am from everywhere in-between

I am from the departure from the West Indian soil
To the land of opportunity

I am from all over the world.
From South Carolina
to Jersey
and Honduras
And back to Puerto Rico.

I am from Columbia
and Guyana

I am from the hood
where the baws wear they jeans sagged low
and the girls they shirts tight

I am from the hood where you get used to gunshots
And often let them sing you to sleep.

I am from the Mummer’s Parade,
2 street, whiskey and steins of beer

I am from Aspen Farms Community Garden
From tall sunflowers and peach trees

I am from the weeds growing out of the sidewalk

I’m from playing hockey in the driveway till they noticed I was a girl.

I am from the “white trash” part of the city

I am from one way streets full of one way minds.

I am from U-city
West Philly
Grey’s Ferry
Mount Airy
Center City
West Oak Lane
North Side
South Philly

I am from good southern home soul food cooking

I am from Irish potatoes and gefilte fish

I am from ham and cabbage

Rice and beans

Curried goat and fried chiken

Humentashen and rye bread

Spagehetti and pizza

I am from tofu

I am from jerk chicken and curried goat

I am from empanadas and noki

from buryani and samosas to


I am from Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, AC/DC

I am from Lauryn Hill, India.Arie, Floetry

I am from pushto,
and disco
from salsa,
Hip hop
and R&B.

I am from rhythmic latin beats
And the sweet west Indian soul

I am from spirituals and gospel and

I am from a place where I have to dumb down my language

I am from New Life Baptist Church and Sunday dinners

I am from onsies and booties, pampers and pull ups

I am from Similac and back hand slaps

I am from Sunday morning pancakes,
flowered dresses and little cups of grape juice once a month

I am from hot combs in the kitchen

I am from a strong black man and an independent black woman

I am from Grandma Vidella

And her delicious cookies and her soft quilts

And her husband who was shot by that white man

And her son who blames himself.

I am from cereal and orange juice every morning

I am from Batman and Spiderman

Action figures and remote control cars

I am from T-ball practice and American Legion games

I am from a seder every year and
Getting up in the morning to Easter baskets
Judah Maccabee on a Christmas tree

I am from prayers and God and Catholic school

I am from South America and the Catholic culture and the Spanish language

I am from fancy cigars and failed businesses

I am from my grandfather, the man in the casket I never knew

I am from the Black woman who doesn’t braid hair
and can’t fry chicken to save her life
( But makes great candied sweet potatoes)

I am from new cars and Negro League calendars

I am from the first African American homecoming queen

to yet another high school drop out.

I am from a world where everything is smoke and mirrors
From broken glass
to broken fingers
From broken families
to broken promises
From broken dreams
to broken hearts

I am from daddy’s little girls

To mamma’s biggest problem.

I am from the dinner table

Where these stories and more


I am from “Reading opens up a while new world.”

I am from “turn the damned TV off and read a book.”

I am from the “ I can’t believe they would do that’s
To the “girl, guess what I just heard!.”

I’m from “don’t this” and “don’t do that”
And “go clean your room now.”

I am from “Speak your mind”

I am from “Act like a lady.”

I’m from “Boys don’t cry”.

I am from Good Night Moon and the Runaway Bunny.

I am from Wonderland and Middle Earth
Oz and Fantasia

I am from the world of Harry Potter
From Quidditch games to chocolate frogs.

I’m from Grimm’s fairy tales
A princess who can keep from being rescued

I am from Roald Dahl and Stephen King

I’m from Alice Walker and Toni Morrison

I am from the library that wouldn’t let my mom take out
The diary of Anne frank

Because she was TOO YOUNG!

We are
from a place where flowers grow from cracks in the ground

We are
from people who made a way for us

We are
from fitting in and wanting out

We are
from all the things we believe

We are
From all the things that have happened to us.

We are
from the people that we meet

We are
from the teachers who have taught us.

We are
from peace.

We are
from war.

We are
from the streets that were once run by children
To a city that mourns the deaths of 24
No – 25 school children
to violence

( whisper – silence!)

We are from “been there, done that.”

We are from looking forward to getting away.

We are from different parts of the world.

We are from different frames of mind

We are from “ you can take the kid out of Philly
but you can’t take the Philly out of the kid…

We are from here.

Marsha Pincus is a post-mid life woman, riding the Age Wave and writing for her life.

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