Sometimes, when a writing prompt hangs me up, I turn to word definitions. A prompt to write from the line: “Where I am from” generated a whirlwind of unhelpful thoughts, and with only 10 minutes to work, I turned to the definition of “from” for help.

The result is this poem, in which I wrote a response to each line of the first definition that Google presented. One day, I’ll write longer poems from some of these.



the point in space at which a journey, motion, or action starts
      from where did I begin?

The distance between a particular place and another place used as a point of reference
      I am nearly a whole continent away from the first place I remember.

the point in time at which a particular process, event, or activity starts
      some days, it restarts again and again, I reset the point from which the motion begins.

the source or provenance of someone or something
      there is a hole in our family tree that I tunnel through and surface from empty.

the date at which something was created
      must one count backward from 9 months or 10?

the starting point of a specified range on a scale
      my provenance depends on the calibration.

one extreme in a range of conceptual variations
      I am a great many things, from farming to art, from business to poetry.

the point at which an observer is placed
      if I squint and lift my chin, I can almost see myself from here.

the raw material out of which something is manufactured
      I am made from stardust, prairie dust, and the dust of yesterday’s failings.

separation or removal
      I ejected myself from the place where I started.

      when I was 15, a friend and a doctor saved me from myself.

a cause
      I suffer from years of abuse inflicted on me, by me.

a source of knowledge or the basis from one’s judgement
      I have collected myself from the readings of others.

a distinction
      I am different, now, from this poem.


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