three years

They tell you: keep your birthplace in mind

and wrap yourself in family ties,

each birch branch

leaves raised tracks on skin but

 

Idle parentage makes for particular genes

a realisation: we go back as far as

roots will allow

wrapped up in themselves below

 

two hundred million, six hundred and a

thousand thousand footfalls brought

me far away for

old walled cities keep me kept

 

Yet I struggle – shake the taste from

a tongue tied in etiquettes

England follows

and drags flags at my heels

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About Benjamin Norris

Published writer of short stories, long stories, poems. Well received art critic and cultural commentator for Berlin magazines. Collaborator with operatic societies. Co-writer of fictional historic psycholinguistic journals. Lecturer of architecture and art history at a Budapest University. View all posts by Benjamin Norris

24 responses to “three years

  • Kary

    It usually astounds me every time I remember my family… and acknowledge that the tree I sprung from is rotten, falling apart, and worthy of pity. This work reminds me that there are people in the world that like their family tree. I like it.

    • Benjamin Norris

      Thanks for your thoughts. To be honest, my feelings about ‘family’ change rapidly. This poem was kind of a response to the fact that I left my home country three years ago now, and don’t miss it one bit. Whenever I travel back for christmas…well, its not always comfortable.

  • parul

    “Yet I struggle ā€“ shake the taste from

    a tongue tied in etiquettes”

    beautiful!

  • Troy

    This seems to me to be an interesting commentary on the concept of roots, and ownership of heritage. Of course, that’s probably subjective but I enjoy what this is saying in the context of a nearly global society going on. At least where I’m from, people are constantly asking each other “what nationality are you?” and “where are you from?” The reality is most of them are born and raised here, and have left most of their fore-fathers culture behind. In some cases for the worst, but in many others for the better, and for opportunities, and because as much as we might love to think it true, not every old culture breeds good things.

  • Joseph Spece

    Really interesting ‘flattened patriotism’ to the end of this. Makes me think of PJ Harvey’s excellent album “Let England Shake.” Do you like her much? Thanks for visiting sharkpackpoetry.com, too.

  • mareymercy

    “we go back as far as

    roots will allow”

    YES to this.

  • jessicamarie19

    You can always go “home”, as they say – but it doesn’t mean it will always feel like one! Nicely written.

  • danroberson

    Looking at family trees can be interesting as your poem points out. There are branches and roots that no one talks about. Our claims often depend on our perceptions of ourselves. Enjoyed your poem.

  • omegetymon

    BEEENNN! What more is to say? Except that those who have “UP”, and RE-ROOTED don’t often think about those infinitesimal building blocks called PARENTAL INFLUENCE.
    Thanks for the visit and “guidance”.
    OM

  • audamel

    Beautiful poem, paints a strong visual for me of a greyish day among leafless trees (I’m sorry, you’re the poet, I am obviously not šŸ™‚ ).Thank you for your visit to kidsbookybubbles.com as well — feedback from poets like you inspire our young writers!

  • A Dreamer Has Hope

    My first visit to your blog and I am inspired. I will be back regularly. I’m an expat and this poem really hit home with me. It will take me a while to go through your archives, but no doubt it will be worthwhile. Thanks for visiting my newbie site as well. I greatly appreciate it. Looking forward to reading your work. – Christine

  • darkestangelica

    Polluted by the smell, remembering the hell..
    Moving on..

    Awe-inspiring šŸ™‚

    Thank you for sharing šŸ™‚

  • Red

    I love interpreting in a vacuum, but what my initial instinct was: Adoption.
    Red.

  • swissmousie

    Wow I love this. Reading it makes me feel like it was written for me. I know, rather selfish, but hey it’s amazing.

  • amyleighcutler

    amazing to read this after just reflecting on where I’m from. beautiful piece.

  • adeeyoyo

    When one leaves home, be for another country it is extremely difficult to accustom oneself to another culture. Archaeology is your work/provides a living for you? England’s pomp and ceremony are quite tedious to you.

    I hope I am at least on the right track, Benjamin. I like the way we have to interpret your poetry, and I don’t know if you allow us to just take our own meaning from it or if you need to let us know what you actually meant.

    • Benjamin Norris

      I`m regularly delighted by your interpretations, and I`m genuinely pleased you and others take time to think about them. Archaeology is of great interest to me, but not my living. However, my job as a lecturer of cultural studies is not far off. England is quite tedious to me – I was back there recently and found the pace of life exhausting, the streets of my home city on New Years Eve resembled a battlefield. And yet there is a nostalgia I can`t shake off, a grasping of some pride…something. Anyway, thankyou!

  • Forever Femme

    “England follows…and drags flags at my heels”

    Although raised in suburbia, I am always reminded of glass shard rivulets whenever I come across a broken bottle.

    Lovely writing as usual…

  • macallister

    Love the last stanza. Specifically, “shake the taste from/a tongue tied in etiquettes.” Thought provoking and well written, sir.

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