Where I’m From

Where I’m From

BY Scott Bentley

I am from the Inland Empire,
Redlands and San Bernardino,
California’s 31st.

Called Kaawchamangna and Amutskupinga
by the Kaawchamangnavit and Amutskupigingavit,
the Kizh (Tongva).

The Yuhaviatam, the People of the Pines,
came to the foothills after a slaughter at
their home in Big Bear Lake.

My great grandparents were Yoeme
they came from Pascua, now
their kids are buried in the city cemetery.

I taught in Rialto,
in the mornings, I’d go to my car with a coffee
in my hand and keys in the other

Coyotes were in the yard
or across the street looking for food.

The Old fire burned over a thousand homes,
forests and foothills, 91,000 acres in 2003.

Chapter 9 bankruptcy,
over a billion in debt in 2012.

The North Park Elementary shooting in 2017.
The shooting at the Department of Public Health during Christmas 2015.
No way to quantify that.

The foothills and valley,
mountains and national forest,
Cajon Pass and Santa Ana River.

My mama called me from the 10
on her drive home to say her car
was covered in ash from the fires.

The smoke grayed the skies
as it drove north up the coast.

Humans are not the apex of life
but a strand in web.

Time is not linear, our ancestors tell us
how to be good ancestors.

I can still feel the hot-summer
heat and Santa Ana winds.

Heat and winds that like bullets
don’t care about our bodies.