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California Voices: Poems About the Golden State
California Voices

California Voices: Poems About the Golden State

California visitors and residents describe their favorite cities, memories, and hopes in poignant poems about the Golden State. Team


9 min read

August 09, 2020

Last month, we asked our community of readers to share their favorite stories about California—whether it was recalling a special memory, remembering a person who inspired them, or describing a beloved place. Here are several of the poems we received about the Golden State. Stay tuned for more California Voices stories later this month, and if you’re interested in contributing to our site, please email with a brief explanation of what you want to write about.

The Golden State

A golden light touches California and makes it shine
It shines off the Golden Gate.
It reflects off the poppies and redwoods,
touches the endless beaches and waves,
makes the water shimmer and sparkle.
It illuminates the gemstones hidden underground,
giving the jewels a special glow.
This golden light also feeds the luscious vegetation, crops, and produce
ever so carefully grown.
But, sometimes this light cannot always touch the Golden State.
Fires blaze, cutting off the golden light,
shrouding it in thick smoke,
hiding it, so it cannot see or shine.
But, as the smoke and dust clear, this golden light returns and shines onto the land.
As far as the eye can see, the golden rays touch the Golden State.
From endless beaches to the mighty redwoods.
From the sparkling waves to the glowing gemstones.
From the luscious vegetation to the prodigious Golden Gate.
This is what I think of when I think about California,
the Golden State.

— Alyssa Nakagawa

Driving down Broadway, small-town feel
Parking at the Plaza, enjoy a nice meal

Saying hi to familiar faces on the bike path
Community coming together in the wildfire aftermath

Rolling vineyards, NASCAR races, Bear Flag revolt
Beauty, entertainment, history, these things denote

Tracing my childhood through the winding streets
Off to school, recitals, sports practice with my cleats

A town full of memories, family, and friends
The importance in my life truly transcends

Watercolor orange-red amid the day's close
Sonoma close to my heart, yes she knows.

— Kylee Andersen

I want it to rain
I want it to rain in California
I want it to rain so hard that I can’t see the ground anymore
I want to build a boat and sail down the hills of San Francisco in the rain
By myself
I want to jump the boat and swim in the waters
By myself
I want it to rain
I want it to rain in California
I want it to rain so hard that when you see me walking on the street,
you can’t tell if those are tears or raindrops running down my cheek
I want soaked shoes and clothing
By myself
I want to dance to the music in my soul in the rain
I want to feel the rain seep into my clothing and shoes
By myself
I want it to rain
I want it to rain in California
I want it to rain so hard while I stand in the shower with my window open.
No music playing
Just the sound of the rain in the background and the hot steam,
rising up to combine with the coolness of condensation from the outside world
By myself
I want it to rain
I want it to rain in California
I want it to rain so hard while I lie in bed,
fresh out the shower with a blanket fresh out the dryer
I want to lie in the dark and listen to the rain
And breathe … just breathe
By myself

Olivine Gabbro

California Poppies

California poppies line the coastline,
waving in the sea breeze
I love this state of mine. 
Colors of many have come to this land
in sight of freedom, the “dream” because everyone
have a dream to be heard, a dream to be seen, 
everyone wants the “American Dream.”
California, a place where democracy grows
We help so many, everyone knows.
Poppies grow in speed and produce for the world
My hopes, my dreams since I was a little girl
Daughter of an American born and an immigrant,
I’ve always strived to be…
an example to others as a good citizen, a wife, a mother indeed.
I raise my children with good intent to be the best,
give their all, give back to circumvent.
Not only am I a Californian, an American thus proud,
but I’ll give back to my community every day as long as I’m around.
A proud teacher that has given her passion for years,
I’ve given myself to my students to tears.
I only hope that with our future ahead,
We can come together, blue or red.
To help our future, set examples to see,
our children are watching as we 
are all coming to be. 
Let us grow like the poppies willing and free, 
and spread the love of democracy.

— Elizabeth Nakagawa

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