Kate Bigam Kaput

Where I'm From

West · Cleveland · Poetry

After George Ella Lyon

I’m from big, shady oak trees and enough pollen to kill me,
From perennials that survive to find their way back in bloom every spring despite biting frost.
I’m from blindingly hot summer days and feet that blister on the scorching pavement as we let the car cool off after hours spent on Lake Erie.
I’m from kickball on the cul-de-sac as the sun goes down,
And from autumn colors that rival New England’s, but with people a hundred times nicer.
I’m from a foot and a half of lake-effect snow with no end in sight,
From no such thing as a day off school if you can still get out of the driveway,
And from digging out your neighbor’s car but knowing he’ll shovel your sidewalk in return.
I’m from marrying your senior-year sweetheart and sending your kids to the same elementary school you attended, where half the same teachers still teach.
I’m from an aged but familiar face at every hometown dive bar,
And from still—always—identifying yourself by the year you graduated high school because, oh, did you graduate with my cousin?
I’m from a map that leads to small towns whose Native American names you can’t pronounce,
From Cuyahoga and Wapakoneta and Tuscarawas and Olentangy,
I’m from the North Coast and summers at Sea World and the best roller coasters in the country,
And flyover towns whose validity and worth are forever being underestimated.
I’m from brown and orange, wine and gold, and nemeses in the form of cities I’ve never visited,
From that damn Drew Carey song and promising to call it Jacobs Field forever,
From witnessing and jersey-burning and ultimately forgiving,
From “Maybe this year” to “Maybe next year” to “Maybe again someday.”
Because I’m from a home that taught us how to hope.

I’m from hard, nasally As that reveal themselves after a few Dortmunders,
From middle class and white trash and never realizing that rich people think they’re the same.
I’m from “two hours away” and a hidden cop car on every stretch of highway,
From tree lawns and “needs done” and pop, not soda,
From the candy, the mascot, and the nut, in that order.
I’m from dollar drafts and homemade casseroles and half-priced appetizers,
From Friday nights spent listening to cover bands on the burning river we learned about in history books.
I’m from round on the sides and high in the middle,
And an enthusiastic “I-O!” shouted in return, no matter where else I may roam.

Kate Bigam Kaput

Kate Bigam Kaput is a seasoned writer, editor, and freelance journalist based in Tremont. Originally from Cuyahoga Falls, she spent seven years on the East Coast before returning home to Northeast Ohio and making it her mission (and passion) to show the world that Cleveland does, in fact, rock. She blogs at GreatestEscapist.com and can be found on various social media platforms as @katekaput.


Neighborhood Voices is a city-wide creative writing project designed by Literary Cleveland and the Cleveland Public Library to engage writers across Cleveland, allowing residents to connect with neighbors, share stories of their community, and draft new writing about what makes their neighborhood unique.


Cleveland Public Library
325 Superior Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44114

Project Created By Literary Cleveland

Literary Cleveland is a nonprofit organization and creative writing center that empowers people to explore other voices and discover their own. Through an expanding roster of multi-level classes, workshops and events, Literary Cleveland assists writers and readers at all stages of development, promotes new and existing literature of the highest quality, and advances Northeast Ohio as a vital center of diverse voices and visions.

Project Presented with Support By the Cleveland Public Library

Founded in 1869, Cleveland Public Library serves the residents of Cleveland through its network of 27 neighborhood branches, the Main Library downtown, Public Administration Library at City Hall, homebound delivery services, and mobile services to daycare and senior centers. From a collection of 10.5 million items, the Library lends over 5 million items a year to its 330,000 registered borrowers and to 43 other CLEVNET-member libraries in 12 counties across Northeast Ohio. Cleveland Public Library is home to the Ohio Center for the Book and the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled, serving all 88 counties in the state of Ohio. For more information, visit cpl.org.