To honor National Poetry Month, WLRN and the O, Miami poetry festival bring you the "This Is Where" poetry project.
It's sort of like "That's So Miami: The Sequel." Only it's a year later and we're all twelve months more poetically imbued. Also, this year's poems can be about Miami, but they can also be about anywhere in South Florida between Key West and Palm Beach County. Even if that place only exists in your head.
Funny, sad, erudite, rhyming, free verse, or pig latin – we don't care. We just pick your best. Click here to submit.
This week's selection:
by Lauren Fernandez of Miami
We jumped out of the Aerostar,
the mosquitoes hovering
an inch above our OFF-doused skin.
My father kneels in the muck
and shakes some berries off a bush.
With his work gloves,
he squeezes the berry on his foot.
The juice sizzles and burns.
This is where I learned
the Cuban version of modern medicine.
Why buy wart ointment
when poisonous berries work just as well?
The where: The Everglades, by the entrance to the national park.
By Pamela Mishkin of Surfside
“#This is where...”
I turn off the rehashed radio contest,
pull into the 95 express lane and do the math:
If x = 12 green parrots, 5 political scandals,
1 perfect café cubano, or 2,394 South Beach bikinis,
then y must always be > x,
as in: y más.
Why such annual insistence, I wonder,
when countless weeks add up to anywhere,
as I branch off the 95, soaring above sea level
and breathing in the 30 seconds of perspective.
And this is where I see it:
a million mango blossoms, ruddy and golden,
blanketing the city as far as the blue line of the sea.
Gator Kicks Long Neck Saloon
by Lynn Berk of Miami
It’s long gone, devoured by the Everglades.
But in the 80s it was a landmark,
A neon beacon on Highway 41,
A parking lot full of potholes dug by ATVs.
This is where Donna Rice bared one breast, a leashed alligator at her feet. (No, Gary Hart wasn’t there).
This is where Smokey and the Bandit peeled rubber and patrons bet on cockroach races at the bar.
This is where crackers and college professors hooted and hollered and slapped each other on the back.
Worlds came together at Gator Kicks Long Neck Saloon.
But it’s long gone.
The where: Gator Kicks Long Neck Saloon burned down sometime later. It was east of the Pit BBQ on Tamiami Trail.
North Beach, Nobe
By Eduardo Lis of Miami
This is where I walked with nothing,
unemployed. Walgreens bathing suit.
Where I later splashed full of love and peaches.
I go. It’s there. No questions, no answers.
Vast ocean, open winds,
the roundness of the earth.
I am just feet in the sand. l could be foam.
The beach to be alone, breathe
to be together, laugh
to be in love, kiss
to dream with clenched fingers
The beach to bury your head in the sand
Or have the courage to do cart wheels.
The where: North Beach, or NoBe, on Collins and 75st
by Jacob Herman of Miami
Woken rudely by a speed bump as the bus rolls through downtown, I check the time.
7:29. I'll barely make it.
The bus slows to a stop with a snore, as if taunting my own lack of sleep.
I grab my stuff and run off, my backpack banging and clanging behind me.
The shops beckon with a breakfast I had to skip,
And the $20 in my wallet yearns to fly out, but I power on,
Crossing roads with my heavy load until I reach it.
My school, New World.
I walk in, barely making it on time.
Some might say that getting up at 5:30 isn't worth it for a school.
But this is where my ideas come to life,
Where my brain can delete its filter and let go a flood of creativity.
And that's what makes it worth it.
The where: Downtown Miami, New World School of the Arts
At the Fair
Eric Van Vleet
There are no more tossed rings trying to encircle the homes
of depressed and emaciated goldfish,
no more magicians with grandiose names
unleashing doves from their shirtsleeves.
No, now it is neon lights, speakers blaring Miley Cyrus
and rides meant to select those fit to be future astronauts.
Seeing this commotion from a distance it would be easy
to fall into reverie over my days when these lights and sounds
where the first unveiling of a greater, limitless world.
Now it is a spectacle I gladly flee, eagerly awaiting my bus home,
this is where it is quiet, comfortably boring and full of books and
now free of any of the hall of mirrors erected by nostalgia.
The where: SW 24 Street, Miami
by Sophia Jurgens
I see empty spaces where the old
banyans used to stand, their places filled
with grass and fallen leaves ,the dust of tree,
The pot hole that caught my roller skates
now catches pools of poinciana petals that the
young boy who lives in the house Alexis died in
splashes like water. He balances on the hairline of
the grass of his yard and the street his mother
told him not to play in, his arms stretched like a
the wings of a crane, his feet wobbly like a drunk.
The cat Alexis left behind weaves between his legs
His parents wonder where it came from, and why it stays,
they have never fed it. This is where I learned how to live,
and what it is to die.
The where: East of Biscayne Blvd.
Day at Greynold’s Park
By Lenny DellaRocca
Pass a fat one, seed pops, burns a hole in my jeans:
tiny crater; falling star on a blue moon.
Freaks at coquina castle sizzle with tie-dye, glitter.
Paddy wagons come, cops with sticks, mace,
loudspeaker ultimatum: Disperse. Someone climbs
the flag pole, smokes a joint under stars and stripes
high above hippies and pigs. This is where
we chant Hell No We Won’t Go!
The where: Greynolds Park
By Miriam Rosen
This is where I was standing when I learned
They eat flowers and rip parsley salads
For friends they like, and wash their hands,
And scratch each other's furry shoulders,
And yawn, and hug, and sometimes sort of dance
As I would watch outside the window
Half-leaning, half-sitting on my bike,
This is where I learned the world is peopled, too,
With hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, ferrets
Who listened all day long on scented cedar paths
As finches trilled and macaws, garrulous, laughed.
The where: A Pinecrest pet shop back in the '50s-'60s.
by Julie Marie Wade
This is where all revenants
return: the swashbucklers &
seafarers, brown pelicans poised
for the gorge, fishermen who
stub out short cigarettes in Folgers
cans, bright gulls with dark sand
spackling their faces—& me, despite
the numbers, green as a heron, still.
The where: Dania Pier.