Flyover States: A Poem

Sarah McMahon
4 min readMay 26

[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]

I took a few different writing workshops in college, and the culmination of each workshop was assembling a short chapbook of poems. Each time I did this, I saw new patterns emerge, from poetry that examined my eating disorder, explored ideas of family, or investigated romantic relationships. Each short collection tells a story, and in a deeper way, gives me a bit of a looking glass into my mental and emotional state at a given point in time. I self-published a book of poetry in 2020, and ever since, I’ve been slowly but surely collecting a new set of poems that will be ready for the world whenever they’re good and ready. You can’t rush things like this.

Many of my newer poems are grounded in two things; nature (the sky, rain, thunderstorms, the sunrise, the ocean, etc), and home. They are softer and less angry than things I’ve written before. They are less emotionally charged and follow a more detailed narrative.

Home is a big topic, and the life I live now in Orange County, is very different than what my life was growing up. The divide between rural and urban America is something that people talk about when say, an election comes around, but I’ve lived both lives, seen and felt the pros and cons of each. I couldn’t wait to leave my small hometown and explore whatever else the world had to offer. And now, I understand the lure of a small, quiet town and of living in a place that can offer some space. Most of all, I’ve experienced living in an urban/suburban place like Orange County to be both thrilling and exhausting. There are too many people, it’s expensive as hell, and most of us wear our egos on our sleeves. But there’s also art, the ocean, miles of mountains and running trails, and a whole lot of good people, too.

Paradoxically, there are people here who shun the idea of suburbia while living right in it. We all want to live a good story; to overcome some sort of heroic struggle and come out the other side. Here, we are chronically aware of our stories. Where I come from, most people don’t even realize they’re writing one, or that their stories are damn good.

So, this is a poem I wrote because there is something unsettling about home being two places at once.

Sarah McMahon

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