Day 19 Highlights

On Day 19, I asked you to write a poem about a memory of yourself that you personally could not remember. For instance, something from early on in your youth, from blacking out because of drinking or medication, or from just having a horrible memory, I guess. I used some anecdotes from my youth and something I said in my sleep, for instance.

The poems you came up with were awesome. There’s always so much honesty and passion behind these poems. And they ran the gamut–from terrifically funny to terrifyingly tragic.



Four lives before age six


I recall reaching

For the orange cup.

But don’t remember

How the bleach burned

Going down my throat.


I see the storm door

In my mind’s eye.

But don’t remember

Going through it

arm first.


And I see the pavement

Pass inches below

My nose,

But don’t know how

The car door opened.


And I don’t remember

Falling from the

Second-story balcony.

But still feel the cool grass

Beneath my broken shoulder



Mike Barzacchini |mjbarzAT NOSPAMyahoo dot com




Night Terrors


When I was a little girl,

One night I awoke

On the kitchen table

Beside the salt and pepper shakers.


My mother tells me

I used to dive bomb

Out of my crib,

That she could not build

High enough walls to cage me.


If anyone nears my eye

With a finger or brush,

I immediately recoil and tear.


My mother tells me I ran

Directly into her extended finger

Around the age of three.

I retell this forgotten story

As my mother stabbed me in the eye.


My father made hamburger

Of my fist as I placed my hand

In greased pan. Sometimes I wake

With heated palms. I would later dream

That my sister was cooking our mother

And our mother was still talking to us.


But the oddest of all memories

Is a white dress hovering

In the linen pantry mirror,

And my mother asking me

Why I was in the closet that night.



Bonnie MacAllister |bmacallisterAT NOSPAMearthlink dot net




The Last Time I Leaned out a Window


It was one of those New York days

when steam rises from the sidewalk.

Warm air, oppressive as a wool blanket,

drifts through the open window.


I hear barking in the courtyard

six floors below. I climb

on the sill, lean out the window,

stare at the snarling dogs.


Large hands pull me back,

turn me over a cotton-clad knee

and, for the first and last time,

spank me.



Margaret Fieland |infoAT NOSPAMmargaretfieland dot com




The Recipe


You tell me

I recite recipes

in my sleep.


Last night

I was out of tomatoes.


You asked

crushed? or chopped?


I replied

get out of the kitched.



Shannon Rayne |shanpidAT NOSPAMshaw dot ca




Humble Beginnings


What Mom remembers is that

on the day of my birth,

since I was the fourth child,

I came very suddenly and

she barely made it the fourteen miles

to the hospital.

She didn’t have time to

wash up the hand-me-downs so

she had to bring me home in

a tattered sweater.

She always felt bad about that.


Dad remembers that I was born

on the first day of squirrel season,

and he kept falling off a stump

from being so sleepy

from staying up all night.


When my children were born

I tried to tell them more interesting

stories about their births.



Connie |CoFun77AT NOSPAMyahoo dot com






My forty year old son

reminds me of the time

after supper

I threw the dishes

and broke most every one

because I was angry

at his father

over something

he did/didn’t do

three years before

I divorced him

and the reason

he remembers

after all this time

is because he still

thinks it’s funny

that my only comment

was “At least

they were dirty.”



Linda Brown |llbrownAT NOSPAMembarqmail dot com






There are bits and pieces of memory

Hands groping

Touching a little girl

That was me.

There are bits and pieces

That still today

Torture the woman

That is me.

The bits and pieces

He left behind

Are still mine

Even though he is dead.



patti williams |pwilliamswriterAT NOSPAMaol dot com




Banana Shoes


I am six years old in the picture,

sitting astride a tortoise,

twice my size.

I guess it was a petting zoo

and I am grinning with delight.

My mom says that after she snapped

the picture,

with the old Polaroid camera,

the tortoise caught sight of my yellow

sneakers and thinking it was a tasty

treat, tried to take a bite.

I don’t remember any of this

but the creature’s head was at least

as big as mine,

her mouth much wider

and I guess I should be glad

I still have both feet.



Beth Browne |womenswritesAT NOSPAMinbox dot com




A Moment in Time


Three years old and riding on a

Subway with my mother. Cane seats worn

And shredding, women complaining of runs

In their nylons which catch on stray strips


They tell me I was a `pincher’ in my

Toddler years and Mom never knew

When it would happen or who the

Victim(s) would be or how they would take it


Mom and I sit in seats facing others, men

All wearing hats and reading newspapers

But then, a group of nuns in full habit sit down

“Who are those funny ladies?” I yell


I had never seen a nun before, and

Demanded an explanation. Impatient with

Mom’s apologies to the women in black and white,

I launch out of my seat, over to the nuns and pinch their knees.



Sara McNulty |smcnultyAT NOSPAMsi dot rr dot com




Memory Forsaken

(For the Cousin Never Known)


The photo black and white

sepia-stained at the crimped corner,

me laughing, snug on Auntie’s hip

a bag of taters and her, not twenty,

bouffant hair, pursed lips and puppy-sad eyes,

evoke dreamy deja-vues of distant toddler-hood

in her mother’s house: the creaking staircase;


packing boxes of books – Honey Bunch

and Bobbsey Twins – closet cached

under summer-hot eaves; the cuckoo clock

that magically played the Batman theme;

the sun slanting into the dormered room

each morning; cider-tinged orchards

and shiny buckeyes to collect; chipmunks skittering


over lichen-lacquered stone walls;

the cool dank cellar of glittering glass,

jars of relish and ‘maters hiding half-full bottles

of gin; the scent of sadness creeping round corners

hushed and still; Auntie weeping, always weeping,

for a daughter she will never know,

holding me instead. Holding me.



Linda |drwasyAT NOSPAMgmail dot com




Past and Present


I call my older sister, figuring she’d know.

“Tell me a story about myself I’ve never heard.”

She’s helping her son with homework.

“When you were two and I was ten

I got mad at mom and ran away with you.”

“Why’d you take me?”

“Didn’t want to leave you with them. I liked you.”

She tells her son she’ll help him in a minute.

“So I got some graham crackers and a diaper

and propped you up in the back of the wagon.

Mom knew. I went all the way to the stop sign

and around the corner. Far enough

so mom couldn’t see.”

“Why’d you come back?”

“I realized I couldn’t take care of both of us.

Besides I’d made my point.” She laughs.

In the background I hear her son say,

“I’m getting out the graham crackers.”



Carol Brian |csp2000AT NOSPAMearthlink dot net




Cigarette Machine


My mother and grandmother loved to tell stories

of my precocity, how I could read as early as three –

or so they claimed. They said they realized this

when I’d go with them to the cigarette machine

and pick out each brand – Winstons, Chesterfield Kings,

Camels, Pall Malls. Maybe it was just pattern recognition –

the Pall Mall package, for example, was almost solid red –

but they claimed it was proof of early genius..


No doubt, I’d even help them get their favorites –

they slipped coins in the slot and I pulled

the glass-knobbed lever that released the package

with a “ker-chunk” to the bottom tray. Maybe I made

faces in the mirror – all cigarette machines had mirrors,

I’m not sure why. They were everywhere – in the diner,

the bus station, the office, the bowling alley. It was cool

and sexy to smoke – the crewcut man with the skinny tie,

the platinum blonde in shirtwaist and pearls, sharing

a cigarette break. Even doctors smoked on TV.


My grandmother died of lung cancer

about eight years ago, a smoker almost to the end.

My mother died not long after. If only I had the power

to see the future then, instead of the power of early reading,

I’d stop their hands before the coins went down

and the Pall Malls or Winstons came out.

Instead, I went on reading like some prodigy.

I never quite lived up to that.



Bruce Niedt |jackbugsAT NOSPAMcomcast dot net




A Sudden Stillness


She told the story until

I felt sure I remembered it

from some space between lifetimes,

my kicks inside her wet womb

before storytime with her first graders.

‘Once upon a time’ and I lay still,

listening to the tales unfold,

was still again as a baby with croup,

pain carried on the wings of ‘once upon’

into the late rainy night.

She was Mnemsyne, divine lover of Zeus;

I was her child-muse, being gifted these sacred

stories, yet to be scribed, my feet motionless,

my heartbeat a mere breath in the wind.



Pris Campbell |camprisAT NOSPAMbellsouth dot net






There are moments

But not often minutes

When I see. It is possible to

Be awake, but

Only with great effort

Or none.

The joy of life

Is incompatible

With the business of being alive.


My cherry tree is about to bloom

It is fully awake

Its only sound is a sigh

Of disappointment as I walk by.



Gratia Karmes |glk222AT NOSPAMtds dot net




Jenny and the Pine Tree


“We always get a spruce pine

for Christmas,” Mom repeats,

then tells the story of when I,

pre-school-aged and already in trouble

at daycare for biting other bratty kids,

stood in front of the Christmas tree

for a picture with my even-tempered little brother.

I took a step back, and one of those spiny branches

reached out and pinched my neck.

More startled than hurt, I turned around

and bit that horrible little branch,

then yelped and let go when it had the nerve

to poke the roof of my mouth.

Angry, I bit that stupid tree again.



JL Smither |jlsmitherAT NOSPAMgmail dot com


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7 thoughts on “Day 19 Highlights

  1. Linda Hofke

    Hey, Linda.
    I ate an ant once too, but only because my brother made me. I would have squish HIM if weren’t older.

    JL, Jenny and the Tree was very funny.

  2. Linda

    Hey Robert – thanks!

    I just found this post, didn’t go further than the IRS one. These are super. Mike, ‘enjoyed’ your vignettes and makes me wonder – how did we all survive childhood. Patti, my heart bleeds. And JL – you get that tree, girl! I remmeber once being upset because an ant stung me and I leaned over, squished it, and at it.

    Hope all are well! Peace, Linda

  3. Patti Williams

    ‘… bits and pieces …’ seemed so true – because we work with what we’ve got inside to make a whole, something beautiful, something different than what has been broken. I know this poem was raw, but it’s what I had, it’s what I still work with. And that’s okay – because I’m doing it – I wouldn’t be me without my battle wounds!

    My voice might sound different if I didn’t have the past.

    Thank you Linda – if I could grab you and hug you I would!
    And Robert – BEAR HUG! I’m honored to be selected.

    Patti Williams
    Smiling real big down here in Texas.

  4. Elizabeth Keggi

    I am always delighted at how many different ways a single prompt can be expressed through poetry. I can feel my brain e-x-p-a-n-d-i-n-g-!

  5. Bruce Niedt

    Another stunning batch of poems, guys. Mike, I was told I drank bleach, too, as a toddler, but I have no recollection of it. I thought of that as my subject initially, but then "Cigarette Machine" developed instead.

  6. Linda Hofke

    Super poems highlighted here!

    Patti, I knew yours would be here. That says so much with so few words. Excellent.

    Bruce and Jenny, I hadn’t noticed your poems on Day 19. I really like them.