I Am From
(From our workshop in August, 2012)
I am from an ice box made by General Electric.
From peppers wrapped in wax paper,
And eggs for lunch in 1935.
I am from the house I was born in,
Over an Italian pizzeria in the North End.
And it’s still there.
I am from homegrown tomatoes,
Beefsteak tomatoes – pulp left to dry out on a piece of tin foil in the sun.
Those beautiful pieces became our own gravy and paste.
I am from day old and half-priced Hostess Cupcakes.
From no money,
And WPA for $13 a week.
From Schiavonis and Contis,
And from ‘The Old Country’ and things made by hand.
I am from a combat engineers unit in World War II,
Building bridges for two and a half years in the Philippines.
From placing our fellow engineers in burlap bags to be sent home,
And from dancing and telling stand-up comedy up in California before I was discharged.
I am from no mother
But a grandmother who raised me.
From the moments as the only kid in the house,
‘Peter do this! Peter do that!’
But everything is water under the bridge.
I am from going by the book.
A man can hardly ask to be from more.