Carla Sameth: Where I’m From

Jul 24, 2017


Where I’m From

I am from slugs and bumblebees,
mildew, Lake Washington, Puget Sound and “the mountain is out.”
I am from pick up games (football, baseball, basketball),
Peter Collin’s knees mashing my lip split when I rush.

I am from classrooms made of portables
that fill the playground and rites of passage girl fights, “tear her hair out.”
Only one not Black in my Brownie Troop,
I am Norris Washington’s hero in fourth grade.
They called me Sammy Boy.

I’m from Brown, Black, Yellow Skin classmates fill Mrs Kumata’s classroom. Safety.
Mock Presidential Election: Larry Rock plays George Wallace, I’m
Eldridge Cleaver. Fourth grade class bully Marvin
in penitentiary now for rape; found Jesus.
I’m first chair trumpet player, best fourth grade girl baseball player.

I am from Mother’s father: jaded Russian revolutionary garment worker,
Failed capitalist, ballroom dancer.
From Father’s mother: Grandma Stella journalist on horseback, wore
IUD earrings.
Took buses south to Guatemala, stranger
gave her dirty magazines to read.

Flung out to the suburbs, we are strangers.
Strong noses, sharp features, olive skin, always asked what country from?
In a sea of white faces, little noses, blue eyes, engineers and quiet dinner tables.
They taunt me, Toucan Sam, last picked for team by sixth grade.
Write my way through it, letters
journey to cousin pen pal.
Share stories savory bedlam, throttled love, existential angst.
Lifeboat. Rescued.

Still Sammy Boy.





CarlaSameth has an MFA in Creative Writing (Latin America) from Queens University. Her work has appeared in several anthologies and publications such as Brain, Child; Full Grown People; Mutha Magazine; Longreads, Narratively; Tikkun; Angels Flight Literary West; Pasadena Weekly; Entropy, Hometown Pasadena and La Bloga.

Carla was selected as fall 2016 PEN In The Community Teaching Artist, and was recently awarded a Poet Fellowship with the Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing. She teaches at the Los Angeles Writing Project (LAWP), Secondary Writing Institute at California State University Los Angeles. She also teaches creative writing to incarcerated youth through WriteGirl. Carla read her work for the first Los Angeles LAMBDA Lit Fest 2017 and the LitCrawl Los Angeles 2015 and 2016. She was selected to be a member of the Pasadena Rose Poets, presented as part of their first annual “Poetry Within Reach” series via an NEA grant in summer 2016 and continues to read with them in 2017.  Carla co-founded The Pasadena Writing Project and is a member of Women Who Submit. Previously she “brought home the oatmeal” as a single mom, running her PR firm, iMinds PR.


More work by Carla Sameth:
I Do Exist






1 Response for “Carla Sameth: Where I’m From”

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