2017 April PAD Challenge: Day 13

Recently, I recorded a “selfie” poem for my publisher Press 53. Click here to watch me recite “the silence between us” from my collection Solving the World’s Problems.

For today’s prompt, write a family poem. It could be about your family, someone else’s family, a big family, a small family. It could be about one person in the family or a group picture. Your call. Just write that poem.

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Here’s my attempt at a Family Poem:

“as a parent”

as a parent there is no better time
than that spent with my family

whether the kids are getting along
or annoying each other it’s strange

how i look back on even the worst
moments with joy that i was able

to have those moments at all but
as a poet there is no better time

than those hours before & after
everyone in the house is awake

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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). As a parent, he loves his family; as a poet, he loves the quiet moments when he can write.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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361 thoughts on “2017 April PAD Challenge: Day 13

  1. mschied

    What’s a family?

    Oftentimes
    the family we are
    born to has little
    resemblance
    to the family we
    create
    for ourselves
    but sometimes
    we need them
    both

  2. lily black

    Full so Full

    Jasmine
    Rudi
    Sofia
    and me.
    That’s how we were
    way back then,
    I was the mama,
    But they raised me
    Always hoping to make them proud
    Instead it was them
    Filling my pride
    Full.

  3. Laura T

    (because life and death happen, and you think you’re keeping up, but it turns out you’ve lost a week, so now you write a lot to finish, hopefully strong, but finish, because something has to feel complete, when you don’t) 1 or 10

    Family Ecosystem

    Rivers converge in my veins
    Bringing generations of evolution
    And introduced minerals together
    To form the ocean of family.
    That is the ecosystem encased
    In the skeleton of my brain.
    Keeping me a float in rushing waters,
    Laughing like brooks over rocky points,
    Tiny arteries, barely noticed
    feeding the things that sustain life.
    Not all indigenous, indeed, some noxious;
    Needing to be filtered out,
    Stagnant pools breeding infectious bugs,
    Until tear ducts open flood gates
    Clearing the system for fresh, spring waters
    To cool the boiling river
    Bringing new growth and balance back
    That is the role of family,
    Natural and introduced for benefit
    Of the world that is me and mine.

  4. artifiswords

    WHERE DID EVERYBODY GO?

    First an uncle took his family west
    Another moved to a distant continent
    One after another, the family moved
    Always out of easy rich
    Always more than
    A simple day’s travel
    Cousins, my only sister, then me
    Like falling trees in forests…
    Does your family still exist
    When you only hear from them
    Through Christmas greetings?
    Many have departed to wherever
    We go at the end…but is it only
    Up to me to seek the ones who left?
    It might be a wonderful reunion
    But there’s always so much
    On my plate…wondering now
    Will any ever come back like I did?

    © 2017 Robert Mihaly

    Posted to:
    https://artifiswordpresscom.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/where-did-everybody-go/

  5. BDP

    Sijo #13: Family

    It had always been: spoonfuls of hot cereal as dawn strengthened.
    Breakfast toast, laughter filled us out, dusk ended with the fat of steak.
    Then we’d sit in lawn chairs, pine trees sprinkling pollen, new growth.

  6. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    my sister is better than yours

    guess who’s the best? she is from ecuador
    my sister is better than yours
    she is there for me when i’m achy and sore
    my sister is better than yours
    she isn’t perfection; in fact, she even snores
    my sister is better than yours
    can’t find one in thrift shops, can’t buy one in stores
    my sister is better than yours
    my friends all agree; my peers concur
    my sister is better than yours
    no sibling on earth is most dearly adored
    my sister is better than yours
    and altho’ this poetreat she might even ignore…
    my sister is better than yours

  7. SharylAnn

    THE LAST OF THE LINE

    It is amazing
    yet sad
    how a once large
    family is now
    represented
    by only one …

    Copyright © 2017 Sharyl
    Always…I wish you peace, joy and happiness, but most of all I wish you Love.
    As Ever, Sharyl

  8. mayboy

    HOMO SAPIENS AND ANIMALS

    Humans accept you in their circle.
    Or maybe not.

    A relative or a stranger
    gives you a hand or a knot.

    Pets accept you in their pack,
    give you unconditional love.
    Until the end.

    Not greedy, not selfish, not evil,
    you are their beloved friend.
    Furrs forever embed.

  9. Jezzie

    MY MINI ZOO

    Just me, my hubby and a stripey cat
    lived in our first tiny attic flat
    but then we added kids, just two
    and over the years my family grew.
    Three cats and two budgies joined our house,
    some goldfish, a hamster and even a mouse.

    A school rabbit came for a holiday
    but then teacher said that she could stay.
    We thought she was lonely so we got her a mate
    and it wasn’t long before there were eight.
    By now two budgies had become four
    after building an aviary so we could have more.

    Cockatiels and parakeets in every hue
    and a pond full of fish joined our mini zoo,
    tropical fish and terrapins we kept in tanks,
    a guinea pig found trimming our grassy banks,
    a tortoise that wandered through my office door,
    two cheeky chipmunks that soon became four.

    Three bantam hens joined our happy band
    making our community life just grand
    until we discovered one had started to crow
    and with the noise he made, he just had to go.
    But in the meantime he had produced many
    which we gave away to a local sanctuary.

    Eventually one by one our old pets died.
    I’ve lost track of the tears I have cried.
    Years ago my children both left home
    to start new families of their own,
    soon afterwards hubby left to start anew
    so there was not much left of my little zoo.

    Now I am retired my resident family
    consists of my German Shepherd Dog and me
    plus a few visiting garden birds and a gull
    so my life has become a little dull.
    What do I think that I shall now do?
    Why, I might just start another little zoo.

    I have tried to post this before but it does not appear

  10. James Von Hendy

    Diversity

    Almost every hillside tree is pine,
    and what we praise is the quaking aspen,
    yellow with envy, the maple flamed
    with reds, the paper white of birch,
    the torn skin of sycamores, the rank
    stench of bay. Take eucalyptus,
    how it towers over the smoky backdrop
    of evergreens, yet even so, pines dominate
    the landscape, invisible, commonplace,
    assumed and overlooked, though the bark beetle
    feasts and the dead wood it leaves will burn.

  11. ToniBee3

    elbow

    you got that nerve like daddy
    you got that swift-kick foot
    you got that jones like momma
    for some port salut
    you like that pork and mayonnaise
    you like that battered trout
    after dreams and supper
    you wanna stretch it out

    …you like that rock ‘n’ roll
    …you got that flip in your soul
    …you need some elbow room
    …can’t wait to meet you soon

    you like that rub on the belly
    you like the serenades
    you like the stories of Geisel
    you like to hear the pages
    you can’t wait any longer
    you got fifteen days
    i got our suitcase ready
    ‘cause you’re on your way

    …you got my feet on swole
    …you got me sore in the folds
    …you got the sac on the floor
    …you got the joy at the door
    …you like that rock ‘n’ roll
    …you got that flip in your soul
    …you need some elbow room
    …can’t wait to see you soon

    1. ppfautsch24

      Daddy’s Girl
      I have his matinee idol smile,
      and his zest for life.
      And, daddy was a drinking man,
      who didn’t hold his liquor well;
      and suffered in self deprecating hell.
      But, daddy made me feel every bit
      his little girl, with gifts and talents to behold.
      My daddy cheered me on, and made me
      believe I was a beautiful girl, who with her
      golden smile could light up the world.
      By Pamelap

  12. EllaT

    Maiden Aunt

    she gave everything for her parents
    only to find herself on the wrong side of 50
    no men her mother could find without fault
    a house as empty as her dreams
    (though dressed perfectly in pictures)
    sitting by the fire at her parents’ house
    watching Lifetime

    she lavished gifts on nieces and nephews
    later grandnieces and grandnephews
    knowing by then it was too late to have her own
    her credit cards suffered but she’d smile and roll it over again
    with her mortgage
    and the cruise she bought her parents while they could still travel

    her mother passes on
    her father, almost 90, grieves
    her siblings squabble over inheritance
    no recognition for the sacrifices she made
    while they lived in their homes with their kids
    fulfilled their dreams while she watched hers float past

    she’s selfish
    the siblings are certain
    to want more than the rest of them

    she cares now for her father
    helping him make the last years of his life worth living
    spending more money she doesn’t have
    celebrating life milestone’s her siblings’ children
    that she’ll never have

    and through it
    she smiles

  13. Linda Hatton

    FamILY Recipe

    In the beginning,
    I was famished,
    yearned for love,
    but then
    my little family
    grew from one
    to two to three
    to four. Now,
    the hunger’s
    gratified,
    satisfied,
    emerged into
    a smorgasbord of
    I Love You.

  14. J.lynn Sheridan

    “What he left behind in the smiling sun”

    He dared to bury ours in the silty soils of the deep Skane forest—my father’s father’s father—
    from a peasant’s straw bed to servant’s hayloft to the sweating vomit in the hull of a steamer cargo
    to a weedy Nebraskan soddy dripping with snakes—

    an earth dweller with his kin and livestock, digging a new life, hiding inside a new world

    not unlike the one he left.

    But with a new name.

  15. taylor graham

    THE FAMILY OF ANIMALS

    Two sisters. No. Stepdaughter and second-wife,
    two yardsticks broken off at one end, the
    beginning or if you reverse it the ending. Fifteen
    inches or is it years apart? Stuck in some little
    foothills town with a car that won’t run straight.
    Father-husband blind deaf now, no use. Find
    a mechanic, a cheap motel. Wander down Main
    Street, there’s always art galleries in those foot-
    hill towns. Good to pass the time, no expectation
    to buy. Gallery with photographic exhibit from
    fifty years ago, all animals but human. Creatures
    indigenous to the foothills. Some extinct now,
    others moved north with changing weather. So
    many pairs of eyes watching as if gallery walls
    were the outskirts of town where beasts still
    living are allowed to live now. Eyes looking in
    where once was home. Two sisters stranded
    not at home here either, looking into those eyes.

  16. mapoet

    Name Changes

    Why did the names change?

    The man filling out the manifest
    didn’t know that in Polish
    the V sound is written with a W.

    The man filling out the form
    at Ellis Island didn’t know
    the name contained a silent consonant.
    It couldn’t be very important
    if you didn’t say it.

    The brothers had to look for jobs
    among the “We don’t hire Pollacks” signs.

    The census taker said ” You want an American name.”
    So, Stanislawa became Stella and Kazimiera–Katharine.

    Why did the names change?
    The underlying reasons are easy to name:
    ignorance and intolerance.

    By Michelle Pond

  17. drwasy

    Ancestry

    My family reads
    like a weird
    map of the
    whisky trail
    with Grammy K
    into her highballs
    and Gramps partial
    to whisky sours
    when they played
    pinochle every night.
    Auntie B preferred
    G&Ts and her hubby
    slung back Buds
    like no tomorrow
    And Mama?
    She took up J & B
    On the rocks
    while daddy never
    did turn down
    a bottle of
    12-year Glenlivet.
    I prefer coffee
    with milk and sugar
    and hope my kids
    stick with soda.

  18. Pat Walsh

    Family
    By Patrick J. Walsh

    He was like his mom
    friendly and gentle and kind
    and quick to smile
    or offer to help

    and like his dad
    He was strong and quiet
    and thoughtful
    when absorbed in his work

    and from his small family
    He grew to embrace
    the whole world
    even when walking alone

  19. Maria Grace

    We never had much
    Only each other,
    Wine and bread,
    At family dinners,
    Love and laughter,
    Song and banter
    Walks in all weather,
    When wonder was free.
    Mother and Father
    Sisters and brother
    Friends who were family
    And Rosary together.

  20. briehuling

    the beekeeper’s musing

    I am the honey
    farmer’s babygirl
    my reflection
    disappearing.
    My heart is a cone
    shaped box
    where all the drones
    have come to laze.
    Massaged by
    metronome
    of a bedazzled
    beat the queen
    hails her very own.
    Honey Association
    gold member elite.

    Brie Huling

  21. Marie Elena

    MY FAVORITES FOR TODAY, OF THE ONES I HAVE READ. My eyes are closing on me, and I need to be up very early, so I didn’t get to read some of your work. That always bums me out. But anyway, here are my faves:

    1. Domino’s untitled piece about the “good man.” As I commented to her, this captures so much, and makes the reader deal with it. Difficult topic, effectively spilled.
    2. Nancy Posy’s “Arithmetic of Family” is just a tender, endearing story of love. Simply told. LOVE THIS.
    3. SarahLeaSales’ “Family, Defined” is unique in its voice. It’s also a say-much-in-few, brilliant write.
    4. JR Simmang’s “Stetson Man” is one of the most unusual, creative poems of the challenge so far, IMHO. The idea of focusing on a chair when the prompt is about family is brilliant. Just brilliant. And the piece itself is captivating and brilliantly written. WOW.
    5. Alphabet Architect’s “Family Redefined” lovingly captures a reality for our country … something we need to embrace, and will grow richly in the doing, IMHO.

  22. Tom Hayes

    Roots and Shoots

    Family trees are seedlings of change.
    Slowly growing, foliage blowing
    their branches shed and rearrange
    in seasonal transition.
    Parents, siblings, children
    come and go in natural progression.
    Each leaves a personal mark
    on the trunk or the bark,
    but the on-going, eternal core,
    a family’s forever more,
    exists in its
    Roots and shoots.
    Roots that grasp the ground,
    tapping the source,
    preserving history.
    Shoots that stretch for the sky,
    creating green growth,
    giving us a future.
    Our family fruits.
    Roots and shoots.

  23. Alphabet Architect

    Family Redefined

    I am part of a family-
    A large one;
    An unusual one.
    Our members are
    From many countries
    And speak in
    Many tongues.
    We don’t dress alike,
    Look alike,
    Think alike,
    Worship alike,
    Or eat alike.
    But each day
    We come together
    To learn,
    To play,
    To celebrate,
    To share victories,
    To mourn losses.

    When I agreed
    To teach refugees
    I didn’t know
    I was joining
    A family.
    I already have
    A family –
    One that lives nearby,
    Speaks English,
    Looks like me,
    Dresses like me,
    Worships like me.
    I wasn’t looking for
    A family.

    But my new friends
    Remind me
    Most every day
    That they have left
    Their families,
    Their villages,
    Their cities,
    Their homes,
    Their occupations.
    And we –
    Teachers and students of
    Their precious school –
    Are family now.
    For better or worse.
    When terrible
    Or amazing things
    Happen to them –
    Or to those
    They left behind.
    When their village
    Is destroyed;
    When a family member
    Back home dies;
    When they make
    A scary trip to
    The hospital;
    When they speak
    A full sentence
    In English;
    Ace a spelling test;
    Land a job;
    Or become
    An American citizen.

    My unusual family
    Makes me laugh,
    Makes me cry,
    Makes me worry
    And pray.
    They give me gifts –
    Some lavish,
    Some touching in
    Their simplicity.
    I wonder at
    Their tenacity;
    Marvel at
    Their strength;
    Admire
    Their joy.

    I love this family.
    I am enriched by
    Their differences
    And blessed by
    Their expressions of
    Love and acceptance.
    And although
    I don’t feel worthy
    Of inclusion, I
    Am better for being a part
    Of this large, unusual family.

    1. Marie Elena

      BLESS YOUR HEART. As one who used to volunteer (and will again, hopefully) at the American School for Women and Children in Northwest Ohio, I experienced a bit of what you are expressing so well here. We have a large population of immigrants and refugees, and it is unspeakably wonderful getting to know them, and hearing their amazing stories. Thank you for what you do, and God bless you and those you serve.

  24. Imelda

    MOTHER AND FATHER

    When I was young
    I wanted to look like my father
    As I got older
    I saw more and more of my mother
    in the mirror
    but I sound like my father
    when I lose my temper.

    So, I have my father’s temper
    and my mother’s artistic streak
    I have his brains and her piety
    I have them in my veins
    even when I thought
    I freed myself of them

    when I was young

    I had to navigate
    in two distant seas
    I was swept in the currents of one
    and washed by the other
    I was drowning
    I had to get out

    I thought I did

    though my parents have become
    as distant as stars are from each other
    they are one in me
    I am my father
    I am my mother

    I am me

    I am my parents’ memory
    of their love.

  25. pcm

    The Whole Fan Damly

    From the sizable WASP contingent
    our kinfolk were reasonable

    of satisfactory but easily countable number
    for they held tempers and passions

    in check with careful precision
    avoiding the extraordinary

    they worked with a diligence
    exuded by ants and bees

    avoided leaps of untoward
    unpredictable measure

    as favored, say, by a grasshopper
    or a hell bound hare

    more likely praying on a Sunday
    than associating with the sinner

    who inspired ceaseless devotion
    they knew how to maintain boundaries

    so the radiance of their magnificence
    could be seen safely from afar

    without being blinded
    by the sheer perfection of their propriety

    the shining confidence of knowing when to wear white
    which fork to use, or knowing when to turn

    the other cheek into a blind eye
    and leave logs well enough alone.

  26. MichelleMcEwen

    Vacation

    Nothing like family
    vacations—

    I remember:

    Daddy getting up before sunrise
    to put luggage In the back
    of the station wagon

    & Mama still packing

    Daddy smacking
    on Little Debbie raisin creme pies,

    on peaches

    & Mama reaching
    in the backseat

    to pinch us

    Daddy steady fussing
    with the glove compartment

    & mama steady asking
    us if we gotta pee

    Daddy playing
    “The Sweetest Taboo”

    & Mama
    handing him change
    at the toll booth

    I remember:

    Daddy speeding

    Daddy yelling at Mama
    for sleeping

    I remember:

    Mama with rollers
    in her hair— taking them out
    when we were almost there.

  27. candy

    Family

    there is a large and quite strange collection
    of loosely related people I call my family

    a motley crew of shapes and sizes
    ages and talents and I think they’re all my family

    everyone is shorter than your average Joe
    except Uncle Mike who is really tall in my family

    there have even been rumors bandied about
    where he came from which casts a pall over my family

    then Aunt Rita insists that he doesn’t belong but
    Uncle Art says he does and that starts a brawl in my family

    I’m afraid I’ll never find someone to marry if I have to
    introduce them to this off-the-wall bunch, my family

  28. Danielle Robinson

    Hierarchy

    I am the baby to my brother—
    A true brother’s keeper and confidant.
    We’ve cried on each other’s shoulder,
    Fought each other’s battles,
    Prayed for our bullies,
    Thrived through beautiful struggles,
    And exchanged a token in life.

    To mother, I am the chosen one—
    The new pillar to harvesting apples on the tree;
    A damsel she taught how to shatter generational
    Curses, wave prayer around for answers
    To shower miracles and blessings,
    And crisscross spells with crosses,
    Without the supervision and
    Last name of my father or her father.

    I inherited grandmother’s
    northern wit and southern charm.
    Love is our tattoo,
    Sandwiched by her homemade soul food;
    Chased by my top shelf cocktails
    And a spoonful of banana pudding.
    We are each other’s cure
    through the good, the bad, and the cancer.
    One out of eight,
    she didn’t orphan her three babies
    like her mother did her.

    I did eat from her mother’s
    pots once or twice.
    She was the black sheep of the family.
    She knew I was a bookworm
    that loved cream corn and pancakes.
    I admired her matching hats and suits
    that she wore for Easter, and
    to Eastern Star galas and funerals.
    Freely, she always lent a hug
    and a kiss. While her
    White Diamonds by Elizabeth
    Taylor scented my clothes,
    she reminded me of
    how much I resembled her mother.

    Her mother was between the
    shade of honey and hazelnut.
    Train was her nickname.
    Born to a free slave,
    she was an orator from South Carolina
    that led girls to high stature.
    She took in my grandmother as her own.
    She was a rock that
    could not be rocked or skewed.
    At the age of one,
    I ate from her hands until she grew ill.
    At the age of 10,
    her daughter,
    my aunt, gave me her
    heirloom of jewelry
    in her wooden jewelry box
    that I’ll give to
    my daughter too,
    one day.

    Danielle C. Robinson

  29. pamelaraw

    Care Packages

    Every month I would receive two.
    My father sent Ginger Snaps, boxed drinks,
    and microwavable meals wrapped
    in the Daily News sports pages
    then stuffed in a small U-Haul box.
    There was always some guy who’d carry
    the package to my dorm if I paid him
    with the beefaroni I stopped eating
    after junior year. My mother’s packages came
    in large white mailers—tear-proof and tough—
    metered and postmarked from the office.
    A stack of super thick paper towels served
    as padding and present for the envelope filled
    with sticky notes, pens, rubber bands,
    and always, always, Band-aids.

  30. cari.resnick07

    Friends are family

    There for you
    care for you
    would do anything for you

    Scolds you
    holds you
    would do anything for you

    Tries for you
    cries for you
    would do anything for you

    Smiles with you
    walks for miles with you
    would do anything for you

  31. Rolf Erickson

    Blessed Be

    Family ties both
    unite and bind.
    Shared blood
    knows its own.
    Even the DNA
    tingles in their presence.
    Memories you never knew
    whisper softly to you.
    No matter how far
    or how long
    the time and miles
    have passed
    they are family still.
    Blessed be.

  32. Anvanya

    HOPE IS THE THING

    With apologies to Emily, wasn’t it always
    The last thing on me mind, the final defense
    Against the world’s slings and arrows,
    Where you went when things were truly going
    Downhill?

    Ah, sure, wasn’t it faith hope and charity on the
    Scapular now? Faith was easy. Only a belief
    In God. Memorize the words in the Baltimore
    Catechism, confess to slights and thoughts,
    And all would be well.

    Charity, now, was to be practiced
    Towards all, even the siblings who stole the
    Skate key or the MATS tag or me best doll.
    And you put your dime in the charity box for the
    Heathen across the wide ocean.

    Hope? That was the last stand, following
    Some horrid event and praying that
    Me guardian angel would keep the
    Wrath of God from my life. Such as
    The time I broke my Christmas gift
    Because I would not let me elder sister
    Play with the damn thing. Says she,
    It’s only after helping am I. Says I,
    Sure I’m big enough to cook all by
    Myself. And damned if I didn’t pull
    The thing apart, making it useless.

    Faint hope ne’er healed a broken
    Family. It’s me today what’s the
    Strange sister, gave up the church,
    Got a divorce from the husband with fists,
    Married the old friend, moved to cooler climes,
    Takes tea with me Irish friend, visits me aged Aunt.

    Holds her new sisters and brothers – closer,
    Yet closer to her heart than blood.

  33. Marie Elena

    ANDREA

    A people-person and poet,
    she learned to write
    in a language not her own.

    Alone, and on a small Danish island,
    she yearned to connect.
    To greet poetic kin.

    In time, she braved the barriers
    of language and space,
    embraced globe and all therein.

    Within her lay a yearning.
    A burning desire to know You.
    To believe in Your existence.

    But the distance seemed too far,
    and far-flung stars, more personal
    than the God who hung them.

    How often did she ask to unmask
    the key to faith in a God who hears.
    Loves. Draws. Speaks.

    Yet I believe. I believe You
    who knew her heart from the start
    ran to greet her.

    “Mit barn! My child!”
    I believe she recognized You at once,
    whispered tenderly, “Min far. My Father.”

    Never again will language be labored,
    and never again faith
    a far-flung star.

    © Marie Elena Good, 2017

    Sadly, our Poetic Asides family lost our Danish friend, Andrea Heiberg. She died of cancer Monday. Andrea never let language get in the way of relationship, clear across the globe. Her presence will be missed by so very many.

    1. Nurit Israeli

      Thanks, Marie, for letting us know and for this lovely poem. I believe that Andrea – wherever she is in the universe of souls – loves your portrayal of her. Such sad news. Andrea was very special to me.

  34. hohlwein

    maybe this can count for the missing Guilty poem too….

    Rite-Aid

    I was about to not love you.
    How could that be, but it was.

    I was about to not love you.
    I was about to hate you.

    I remember that.
    I remember saying that and knowing it.

    I remember standing next to you
    – how skinny you were

    bones, really, bones, cuts,
    so many bruises
    and I thought, I don’t even know you

    as you turned down an aisle
    away from me, not even distant

    just
    utterly unknown: pure stranger.

    I think I thought
    I hate you

    not then
    then you were just a stranger

    and I thought
    who is this

    but in those days
    when your dark house was your only refuge
    besides your activity of absolute obliteration

    and the darkness filled our veins
    no matter our distance
    and clutched our throats
    choked already for years with tears, fears, years of tears, and fears, founded
    and love, useless
    tough love, useless
    tough

    ambulances, silence,
    phones, ringing, not ringing, silence, alarms, tears and the distance
    growing and love, tough or kind love, forever love then – useless

    and the darkness woke the children
    and opened the drawers

    looking, always looking

    That wasn’t the last vision, some woman,
    with a coin purse
    and broken hair
    and cigarette scent
    under the bright public lights
    starving for something
    then still visible

    but it was the last day, our last outing
    together, I might say.

    We were in the pharmacy on the upper westside
    looking for scar cream, conditioner, cigarettes.

    I didn’t even know her.
    How could that be.

    Very soon
    you became you when you became bones
    quite actually
    and I could love you again.

    Love rushed in
    on powerful, thundering, hard flapping wings.

    Love ran through the streets
    calling your name, calling out

    I’ll love you forever.

    Family is everything.

    Family is forever.

    At least there is that.
    and I myself will die
    with my devotion to your friendship,
    your long ago through and through love,
    your golden, then outcast, broken-winged soul.

  35. Holly York

    Mother and child

    Campus breakfast al fresco in April-washed
    brightness of green.
    From two tables over, above the bird song,
    the high volume whine of a student
    lamented into her phone:

    “I’m here at the bakery
    can’t even get coffee
    no money left on my card.”
    –audible sound of angry response,
    words left to imagine–

    “Well you need to start monitoring my account!”
    –angry words imagined–

    “Fine! I won’t have breakfast.”
    –more words–

    “You are disgusting!
    Put money into my account right now!”
    –Phone clanks down on aluminum table—

    The morning sparkled less
    as I reflected on motherhood’s
    teaching of values:
    respect and discipline
    blended with love… and
    worried about this poor child
    and her mother.

  36. michaelharty

    A 50-year-old Newspaper Photo, My Father-in-law With His Five Daughters

    So here’s the tree as it begins to branch.
    It’s Fathers’ Day; each daughter holds a gift
    and wears a pretty dress. Coached in advance,
    they smile, and if the pose is slightly stiff,
    it’s just what the occasion calls for. He
    is smiling too, as if the years to come
    will bloom with happiness, prosperity,
    and good health for his offspring, every one.

    Well, not exactly. Illnesses, lost loves,
    hurt children — each was dealt her share of pain,
    and then, as he became a shadow of
    what he had been, they suffered once again.
    Yet here they are, in this year’s photo: five
    who hold together. Persevere. Survive.

  37. lsteadly

    On Leaving Home

    My boys are
    young men

    two twenty-somethings
    preparing to leave

    home now
    helping their father

    fix dinner on the grill.
    They are younger

    versions of him
    bracing themselves

    against the din that awaits
    yet I can trace

    me in their faces,
    see what I believe

    is theirs too. I see them
    venture beyond here

    inherit our time
    determined

    like the cat
    stalking in the garden.

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