2018 April PAD Challenge: Day 8

For today’s prompt, write a family poem. Good, bad, big, small, adopted, imaginary, nonexistent–everyone has to deal with family (even if that involves running from it or chasing it down). I have a feeling today’s prompt is going to stir up some really good poems.

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Here’s my attempt at a Family Poem:

“let’s start”

let’s start a family;
we can begin tonight
with a quick kiss or three
under electric lights…

let’s start a family;
we need only a spark
to warm both you and me
in the magnetic dark…

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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). He loves his family.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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318 thoughts on “2018 April PAD Challenge: Day 8

  1. BDP

    “Inescapable”

    Family peers back in the mirror: what’s possible—
    or not. No use staring.
    Can’t change the shape of your nose, can’t train
    a cowlick not to jump in surprise, can’t rain
    curses to thicken up your hair. Town
    politics—that’s what your face is, local, swept
    into power through DNA, which rose
    to prominence a massive genealogy chart ago. Genes stick.
    If only we could shoo them off like flies.
    With brow-arch, a wink, glaring, whatever, eyes
    hold truth in them. Even when we fashion ourselves into someone
    else, plastic surgery, cosmetics, glasses, acting…a look crows
    betrayal or honesty, a type of journalism, yellow,
    fake or well researched. The latter’s best. A short goodbye
    with 5 Ws and 1 H cuts through lovers’ haze
    and prevents a lingering what-did-I-do dusk,
    (neither sun nor dark, but long, pained guessing). First
    and foremost, relatives hurt us when they come down
    hard. People say the sweetheart Other
    breaks hearts, but divorce by family stomps them into ground.

    —B Peters

    Endwords from Mark Strand, “Velocity Meadows”

  2. Angie5804

    You Know Who You Are

    One of my tribe
    One of my folk
    You make me laugh
    At all your jokes
    You know some secrets
    Most others do not
    Sometimes I think
    You read my thoughts
    When I am down
    You understand
    You know me well
    You’re my left-hand

  3. seingraham

    OURSELVES, IF THEN

    There are rituals for my infant grand-daughter
    and bedtime is the best – the bath, the book-reading,
    snuggling and lullabies—
    It is during a made up rendition of I’ll Love You Forever,
    Robert Munsch’s famous book, that I sing to this
    baby when I lose it
    How can it be that I am crooning this song again to
    a baby so innocent,
    and my hot tears are plinking on a hand-knit sunshine
    yellow blanket handed down from my grandmother
    to my mother, to me, to my daughters, to this one
    How can it be that the line has been broken?
    Not by this little piece of perfection’s mother…
    No – she epitomizes family …
    But the other one, the one who’s departure spelled
    the end instead of continuation
    What happened to the circle remaining unbroken?
    Perhaps it falls to those left to reweave the story.

  4. azkbc

    Building a Family

    Building a new family
    if you don’t like
    the one
    that is attached to you
    by strings
    or guilty threads
    could be like
    going to the hardware store.

    You can find members
    straight and tall,
    like pieces of wood
    but be careful
    they bend a little.

    Some are cold
    and hard like pipe.
    There is a place for them,
    but only one or maybe two.

    Sheetrock can be cut
    into so many shapes
    and sizes for family members
    and painted rosy pinks,
    daffodil yellows
    and pansy purples
    to brighten up the days
    and offer cheer.

    Building your own family
    may be the best way
    to have the family you need.

  5. Asha1000

    Rainbow Beneath the Waves

    Did Raven dazzle the land otters
    as they tried to save the family
    lost at sea after their car crashed
    unto the lonely Mendocino rocks?

    When the land otters tried
    to transform the family
    into half-human, half-otter
    beings like themselves,
    they didn’t know
    that the rainbow they saw
    was made by sky water
    not the salty Pacific brine.

    The land otters did not know
    that the family could not breathe;
    that they would drown in rainbows
    beneath the waves.

    – Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming

    The Alaskan Tlingit and Haida people tell the story of Raven, the chief spirit, trickster, shape-changer and transformer. He gifter the land otters the ability to live on land and under water, as well as the powers of illusion and disguise. Raven also gave the land otters special permission to save those lost at sea or in the woods, and to transform them inro half-human, half-otter beings, like themselves.

  6. mattmacd

    My wife had found out
    recently
    that her father had died.

    He wasn’t a solid contribution
    to society.
    From what my wife had recounted to me
    and from my own impression of the man

    (… Met him once over a decade ago. The last time
    my wife had talked to him
    was shortly after our son was born.
    He never met his only grandson.)

    he was an asshole. These types of men
    always live longer then they had earned.

    He was no exception.

    His corpse was found by a neighbor.
    I imagine how he was found
    and what
    state of decay
    he was found in
    as my wife relays this information to me.

    Did he regret the pain
    that he caused her
    after he had realized that he was dying
    and that he was dying alone?

    I almost began to feel
    sorry for him until I realized that
    if he had loved her
    one ounce more than he loved himself, then
    I would not be sitting across from her, at our table.

  7. cello

    We Are Family

    According to legend
    Chief Ouatoga planned
    to save his tribe
    by sacrificing
    himself to the Piasa Bird

    He placed himself
    in a limestone bluff
    to be closer to the sky
    so the bird could see him.

    It wasn’t long
    before the Piasa
    swooped down to devour
    the chief while
    his tribe watched.

    All at once,
    a thousand arrows
    pierced the sky
    and the great Piasa
    fell into the Mississippi.

    His horrible
    cry is still heard
    on full moon nights
    along the bluffs
    near Alton.

    My sister and I
    squinted to see the bird’s
    bloodstained outline
    along the painted rocks.

    Graffiti artists had
    added their hearts
    and initials perhaps
    hoping for fame
    and immortality.

    There was something
    familiar about the
    Piasa Bird.

    Its fierceness
    looked like the Hui Bird
    on Dad’s left arm.

    Once upon a time…
    Dad was walking on a beach
    in Hawaii. A bird that was part
    bat and part eagle
    flew into the side of his arm.

    It stung like the worst pain
    he had ever felt.
    It took days to heal.

    The “scar” looked
    suspiciously like a tattoo.
    We asked him how come
    no one ever saw a Hui bird.

    “Because it died.
    Right here on my arm.
    It was the only one
    of its kind.”

    Mom said Dad
    had been skunk drunk
    on whiskey.
    He and all his army buddies
    got tattoos.

    “Your father didn’t know
    what to ask for
    so he let
    the tattoo artist decide.”

    She said it was the ugliest
    thing she’d ever seen.

    My sister and I knew
    that the Piasa Bird
    wasn’t any more
    real than the Hui Bird.

    Yet somehow we felt
    connected to the strange
    figure on the bluff.

    Perhaps it was the myth
    inside each story
    that gave things so unreal
    their life.

      1. cello

        Sara and Asha, I appreciate your comments. After re-reading it, I see I have a typo. The “in” should be “on a limestone bluff.” Oh well, it could have been a cave. So much for my proofreading skills.

        I have my family to thank for a past rich in stories–some happy, some sad.

  8. Linda Hatton

    The Family 411

    We’ve been wandering
    in the back yard, behind
    the unfinished A-frame,
    prying up weather-beaten
    shingles, and peering
    underground
    into mountain
    beaver towns.

    We’ve been following
    the grassy knoll through
    cherry blossoms, rhododendrons
    and other shrubs,
    searching for nuts
    from the family
    tree. But it seems
    we were too late.

    The place has been
    overrun by flying
    squirrels, moving
    across the sky. There’s
    no stopping them.
    Their grub hunting
    and hoarding has
    our family capsized.

    If you dare pay a visit or even
    respects, or dare to get
    even with death’s refusal
    for leaving, just beware, you might
    fall down the cracks
    or be swallowed alive
    by that hunger we all
    now struggle
    to live with—
    it never dies.

  9. Gigglette

    Family Tree
    The oldest is supposed to be the most responsible, relient, wise, and mature one
    Not in my family
    I am the youngest daughter of three
    But not the youngest sibling in our tree.
    Sitting so very long ago,
    with my mother watching as she takes her last breath,
    Its my nightly vidual ,
    all alone waiting for her death.
    Thinking at 3 a.m. how did I get picked for this?
    Becoming my mothers caretaker something was really amiss.
    The child that was the most difficult that my mother liked least best,
    There were better choices of whom to help her take her final rest.
    Not so long ago
    a massive heart attack and my brother is announced dead on arrival as he’d been wheeled into the hospital doors.
    Anticipation chokes my throat thinking about walking down that narrow hallway with the black death arrows painted on the floors.
    Hunkered down on uncomfortable chairs in the loud dreary lobby,
    I wait for someone to take me to the morque to claim my brothers body.
    Now just recently,
    Alone again but not so naturally,
    There are a whole lot of places I’d much rather be.
    But I cannot, I must stay here,
    Whispering calming assurances into my fathers ear.
    Deaths door is open and the end is very near.
    My father needs to know he is loved until the very last ,
    It will ease his journey into the future from the past.
    I have asked my family,
    Please leave me be.
    I say from the bottem of my weary scarred heart with a silent shout,
    Please leave me out!!
    I can no longer be responcible, wise, or the strongest one,
    Unless something terrible happens to my son,
    I will be on death watch no more,
    I am done!!

  10. Connie Peters

    The Beginning

    I love the picture
    of Mom and Dad,
    newly married,
    standing in a barren field
    which is now grown into a forest.

    He freshly out of WWII
    wears a leather jacket
    and cuffed pants of the forties.

    She wears a knee-length coat
    just short enough
    to show off those legs
    that once won a contest
    in high school.

    They both look so happy
    arms around each other,
    on the threshold
    of having five daughters,
    many grandchildren,
    and greats thereafter.

    The field
    wasn’t the only thing
    that flourished.

  11. Valkyri

    the new additions

    weeks past gravid
    queen lulu belle
    birthed seven kits
    only six survived

    daddy of three
    all smokey grey
    checks his litter
    each day now

    daddy number two
    our neighbor’s orange
    unknown to him
    his three replicas

    our family now
    six cats richer
    and sweet lulu
    a relieved mama

  12. Jane Shlensky

    Complications

    When we were kids, she said
    Mama had me for spare parts.
    It became our bad joke later
    when it came to be true.
    But if my marrow could save,
    she would be here now,
    bossy and generous,
    dismissive and kind.
    Not every miracle occurs
    as we would like it,
    but I feel her in my blood,
    argue with her in my brain,
    cherish her in my bones.

  13. Jane Shlensky

    Family Buttons

    They push my buttons large and small,
    no matter what befalls them,
    no matter what we might recall,
    those buttons—they installed them.

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