I have lived longer in the
place where I am
Than anywhere I have ever
lived or been.
So how do I determine
where I am from?
Where was I born?
In a place where I spent
merely two days.
Then I spent the next ten years
living out my childhood.
I spent half of adolescence
The latter half of it and adulthood
another place (where I became myself).
Were I to travel back to the first three
they would look foreign to me.
— So where am I from? —
Were I a hood in the city
tattooed "East Side —
Do or Die"
on my right arm at twelve years old,
Single-parent mother; father the gang, the
the streets, the road;
transported, transplanted to a new city,
it's West Side —
Or a rural Slovak, sent to live with his
Grandparents at ten
in a new village with new customs and
— What then? —
An Army brat, with a twinkle in his eye
— Does he have to lie? —
A teenage runaway, pregnant by the first
love of her life,
leaves the child at a firehouse station;
the child grows as he bounces through
no one in relation,
no place to call home.
What is home? Do you merely live there?
A place to run away from like that girl who if
forced to stay would tear out her hair?
A structure of brick, wooden frame, but
devoid of a soul?
A nomad, feet never on the same land again,
sleeping in animal skins stitched together
around a pole?
— Do weeds have one, or do they simply
Is where I am from where I feel most at home?
Can I say that I've never been from anywhere
But "from" is definitely past tense,
suggesting arriving is part of a specific
If I refuse to give an answer, then will you
look at me with suspicion?
//Chris Dankovich is a writer, artist, and teacher and has been incarcerated since he was 15. Chris has previously been published in the past four annual PCAP Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing, The Harvard Educational Review's book Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline, and FENCE Magazine, and he recently won second place in PEN American Center's annual prison writing contest.