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Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 278

Quick note on the April Poetry Challenge results: We are just three days short of having all 30 days reported. Hopefully, we’ll finish it up between now and the next prompt. Want to see who’s already been listed as a winner and/or finalist? Click here to see 27 winners and 243 finalists.

For today’s prompt, write a framily poem. That’s not a typo. I’m thinking framily: friends and family (you know, like Sprint’s framily phone plan?). Okay, it’s a little silly using the word “framily,” but when have I avoided silly? Write a poem that involves (or is inspired by) your friends and family. Everyone should have a good story to tell, whether it’s funny, sad, serious, etc.

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Here’s my attempt at a Framily Poem:

“friends & family”

we commandeered a boat when the zombies attacked
because none of them could swim & we figured we had
at least a month’s worth of food & drink & we were all friends

& family so it would be kinda like a month-long party while
the land lovers & brain eaters fought it out on shore & well
it kinda was a party for the first night or three (can’t recall)

to the point that we drank all the alcohol & ate the meat
& dumped a lot of the rations overboard because johnny
thought it would be a good prank & that’s what we believed

until we sobered up to the reality that we’d have to dock
& draw straws for who would hunt down some grub stuck
as we were but sometimes you gotta talk & others walk

& when you see an approaching bar you best had better duck

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roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He spent Labor Day weekend in a car for more than 30 hours with three kids packed like sardines in the backseat of his tiny Kia Spectra. In other words, it was an interesting trip. In addition to driving all over the place with his family, Robert also makes slight alterations in his bio notes for these Poetic Asides posts. Honk if you read them.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

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270 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 278

  1. taylor graham

    COLOR SCHEMES

    The boy created such a jam
    of colors on the design-studio white tile,
    it got his mother scolding in the most
    nagging way and catalyzed both
    his parents to what seemed to the child
    a mindless back and forth about
    the quality of genius and the whims
    of inspiration, as the air inside the house
    turned a tedious dusty gray,
    and outside the window the sun
    began setting the most glorious crimson
    peach purple, and afterwards the stars.

  2. Shennon

    “You mean you don’t share
    your toothbrush
    with close friends and family?”

    I then grab the toothpaste,
    but quickly set it back down
    upon seeing him frown.

    I can tell his brush
    I dare not touch
    should I ask to use his shower?

    He gets me my own towel,
    then hovers about
    making sure I disturb
    none of his toiletries.

    As I calmly walk out
    his etched glass front door
    I wonder if his neurotic tendencies
    also drove his wife away.

    –ShennonDoah

  3. BDP

    “Spaghetti Dinner Years”

    We chunk the bread for croutons, whip-whisk stir
    dark vinegar with cold pressed olive oil,
    and dress the washed romaine. Pull up a chair.
    We slip the garlic loaf from oven foil—

    a smell accordion tweaks noses. Friends,
    raise tings! of grape, twirl pasta with your tines.
    Try not to drip tomato pulp, upend
    red seed upon the cloth, but never mind

    if some stains happen. They become the tales
    of decades-used material, become
    a customary repartee that’s frail,
    because we love so much we hazard worn.

    Until next Sunday, when all’s fresh, at ease.
    As with this meal of tastes, we’re family.

    –Barb Peters

    1. TomNeal

      raise tings! of grape, twirl pasta with your tines.

      The above is a wonderful line.

      if some stains happen. They become the tales
      of decades-used material, become

      Your transition (volta) from the present to the future status of the present as a marker of love and lore is well done.

    2. BDP

      Thanks for your feedback, James, drnurit and TomNeal. I’m not Italian in heritage, but I wish I were–I love Italian food! Something about it reads “family” to me.

  4. icandootoo

    Concrete Poetry for today (I have no idea if it will work on a comment like this):

    Blurred Lines
    naomi poe

    Where
    is
    the
    boundary
    between
    ‘friend’ and ‘family’
    When your heart is hurting
    And
    you
    turn to
    the ones
    who
    are there?
    And when you
    are turning,
    and
    your family is

    nowhere,

    Isn’t it hard
    to discern
    where
    ‘family’ turns
    to
    ‘Enemy?’

      1. PressOn

        I got the point, if not the shape. I feel pained, reading this; I can imagine an indifferent family, but not one one comprising enemies. I think this is well done, shape or no.

        1. icandootoo

          thank you so much! I loved the visual of this poem, but I realize that it’s hard to do in a format box. Thanks for giving me feedback – I work with at risk teens, and so often the ones who are there for them are no blood relation, while the family that bore them are nowhere to be found. It’s really very sad, and the anger they have is very real. At that stage they’d use the word ‘enemy’ sincerely. Although I do believe that as we age, the world takes on many other shades than the black, white, and grey we paint it as youth.

  5. shellcook

    Family Trees

    Family has a life of its own.
    It gathers speed on the downhill run.
    The roles, now reversed,
    not part of our plan.

    But the fighting still yaws
    like the big open mouth
    with big steel jaws,
    around that sensible snout.

    Just so you know,
    it doesn’t stop there,
    the naming,
    the blaming,
    the need to be loved.

    All the do’s
    and the don’ts on our own family tree,
    Were really just guidelines
    for each age we have been,

    We really don’t know who we are
    in a pinch,
    but the family won’t tolerate
    such flaws and defects,
    that make us so human,
    when the boots on your neck.

    You’ll do this or go,
    you won’t, or you stay,
    who better to tell you
    the constant error of your ways.

    Continue as always each
    quicksilver day,
    While the non recalcitrant sand
    flows right through the glass.
    Time marches forward
    and still you don’t know,
    if your words or your deeds
    yielded flowers or weeds.

    Until walls tumble down,
    and you’ve no more to give.
    And twinges of pain
    awake in your chest
    for the grief overwhelms
    the purist in this.

    With all of this said,
    these stories and woes and
    wishes and dreams that
    might have been born
    were the purview of family
    where we all cut our teeth.

    So wincing I step
    from the discussion at hand,
    those things that we
    could have,
    would have,
    should have,
    we might not have said.

    If only we had known,
    as the older ones know,
    we are the dogs
    and our family
    the bone.

  6. drnurit

    A very thought provoking poem, Tom! For me, the allusion to Sartre’s “in my contingency” creates a poetic dialectical tension between “collateral damage” and the view that we create the world in which we live. Seemingly simple but going deep!

  7. drnurit

    Reunion

    By: Nurit Israeli

    He doesn’t know
    how to greet her,
    when they meet
    after all this time.

    He doesn’t know
    whether her eyes
    still glisten
    with her laughter,

    whether she dances
    like then, when she
    followed his lead as
    easily as he did hers.

    Those faded photos
    that hinted at forever
    are not from this lifetime.
    What matters to her now?

    He embraces her
    when they meet, while
    her husband shakes
    hands with his wife.

    He peers into snapshots
    of her children,
    imagining the children
    who could have been.

    She is still captivating.
    Strands of age shine silver
    in her hair, but her radiant
    smile washes away the years.

    He nods when she tells
    him he hasn’t changed,
    not daring to reveal
    how much he has.

    He doesn’t say
    that he kept the ring,
    and that his days linger
    between the questions.

    1. TomNeal

      “Reunion” holds time past, time future, and time might have been in time present (present to its reader) in a poetic (not a Bergsonian) duree. The poem’s protagonist doesn’t know how “to greet” his past in the present:

      He doesn’t know
      how to greet her

      She is someone his from the past entering his present, and he doesn’t know what to expect:

      whether she dances
      like then, when she
      followed his lead . . .

      Their past together is recorded in ‘faded photos/that hinted at forever’. These photos ‘are not from this lifetime’, but they nonetheless occupy a place in this moment of space-time. “Those faded photos” both affect the present, and are to be (re)interpreted within its context. In “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” Eliot explains ‘the conscious present is an awareness of the past in a way and to an extent which the past’s awareness of itself cannot know.’

      The flux of the moment is not fully understood or disclosed in the moment:

      He nods when she tells
      him he hasn’t changed,
      not daring to reveal
      how much he has.

      However, the answers to ‘the questions’ that linger are to be found in this new understanding of, or release from, an outdated historical narrative. If he insists on retaining the old narrative, his-story, then helpful change will remain elusive. Irregardless, his “time future,” as Eliot puts it, is “contained in time past.”

    2. drnurit

      Thank you, William, James, BDP, and Dorothy’s Daughter for reading and for commenting! Tom, thank you very much for taking the time to interpret my poem. I truly appreciate it, and you reflect what I aimed for. My protagonist struggles to integrate what is, what was, and what could have been. And I agree – time future is contained in time past…

  8. Jane Shlensky

    The Chosen

    A body
    of knowledge
    resides in choice
    in what draws us to it
    gut and brain, loss and gain.

    Avocado, sassafras, chocolate
    pie, people who wink and
    whistle my way as if
    they know me
    already.

    Eyes that
    see something
    more in me than I
    see myself, that expect me
    to step up to my full potential

    Hearts that teach me rhythms
    I would swear I don’t
    possess, but who
    encourage me
    to be

    Better
    than I am
    kinder, smarter,
    more able to stretch
    a little talent a long way

    Whoknowswhy they choose
    me and I choose them
    back, love creating
    a new family
    for life.

    Lucky me
    shuffles toward
    faithfulness and hope
    drunk on friendships that
    inform definitions of eternity.

    1. PressOn

      For me, the shape of this poem suggests the in-and-out, back-and-forth nature of life, and thus the shaping of friendships and fulfillment in them. I noticed that the poem ends on a long line, not a short one. I love this, and have read it often.

    2. drnurit

      Love your title, Jane, and its allusion to Potok’s “The Chosen”, a story on the depth and meaning of friendship. Love William’s comment regarding the shape of this poem – the vicissitudes of life, “loss and gain” and, throughout, being “drunk on friendships”, that “family for life” which can help us “step up”, “be better”, “stretch” – “toward faithfulness and hope”. Truly inspiring!

  9. millet israeli

    Old Friend

    Yesterday I walked past that place.
    you know the one I mean, you
    were there too.

    That time when we were
    young and free of scars.
    Remember?

    Yesterday I walked past that place.
    it looks the same, only
    you and i have changed.

    Truth is I peeked in the window,
    as though you might still
    be there, strumming your guitar.

    Yesterday I walked past that place.
    and it was like no time
    had passed at all.

    Though we each have lived
    two lifetimes since then.
    haven’t we?

    Funny, when we think of that place,
    we each paint the walls with
    the colors of our own memories.

    Someday we’ll share a meal
    or a drink or a cup of tea —
    and remember together.

    1. Dorothy's Daughter

      I like this a lot. It’s like a watercolor painting – soft and graceful leaving the viewer to fill in the exact detail lines with their own mind. It’s lovely.

  10. Dennis W

    Family on a Friday

    Milo, the cat, says, “You got things to do,
    The dog needs a walk and dinner’s overdue.
    And my litter box needs cleaning right now.
    If you don’t get to work, I’ll have a cow!”

    Bill, the dog, sleeps and he snores loudly
    He rests soundly on my pile of laundry.
    I’ll have to wake to take him outside
    I’ll call him ’til he opens his eyes.

    This here poem is done, cat is now quiet.
    Dog? He still snores. I can hear it.
    And me, a smile beats out a smirk
    And I know it’s time to get to work.

    September 5, 2014

    1. BDP

      I love cats (and like dogs), and called my recent cat “General Kitty Hawk,” because he directed the troops (me) around the house. I enjoyed Milo in this poem–“I’ll have a cow” is so true!

  11. taylor graham

    IF HALF A TREE FALLS

    In full leaf, the twin oak split
    at its base, one trunk
    still standing, the other collapsed
    over our driveway. Maybe not
    twins, but a married couple; your
    daughter and her husband.
    As the tree broke, so did her
    news; trip to the ER; open-heart
    surgery today. The heart of
    the split tree looks fresh
    as muscled life, solid-grained.
    I’ve heard two halves
    of an oak can cleave and yet
    survive. Our sheep gather
    to feast on oak leaves
    suddenly within their reach;
    in this droughty landscape,
    leaves still vibrant with
    shades of summer. Life, hope.

  12. James Von Hendy

    The Circles of Heaven

    An earthquake in Napa, the ring of circles
    On the shake map, all that red wine
    Spilled, a wash incarnadine
    Across illusion, the myth of permanence.

    Suddenly I find myself circling cities
    On a world map: Boston where my father lives,
    His wife and my bedeviled brother,
    Rockville and the small town where my mother lies

    Unmarked on such a global spread,
    Fitchburg, too. D.C., London, Londrina,
    Detroit and Palembang. Vancouver,
    Tokyo, a world of rings where all my friends

    And family live, love, and lie. I people them
    With love, the living and the dead, the kiss
    Of them imprinted on my brow, Bath,
    Barcelona, Bangalore, the souls I breathe.

    1. BDP

      I love how you set this poem up with the splendid first stanza, James (“…a wash incarnadine / Across illusion, the myth of permanence”). And then I enjoyed circling the world with you. Especially liked: “…the small town where my mother lies // Unmarked on such a global spread….”

      1. TomNeal

        Across illusion, the myth of permanence.

        Barb, I agree: it is a splendid first stanza.

        The “myth of permanence” has been much on my mind. Thank you for this treatment of the theme.

  13. LeeAnne Ellyett

    A few months ago we had a baby shower for my daughter. I gave each guest a pre-printed page with a letter of the alphabet and asked them to decorate it and offer a special wish. I then had the pages laminated and created a keepsake book. This is the dedication I wrote in it. It seems appropriate for this prompt.

    Letters of the Alphabet

    A
    Book,
    Created for you,
    During a fun afternoon,
    Enjoying with,
    Family and Friends,
    Gathered to celebrate,
    Happy to be,
    Included at the party,
    Just for you,
    Kaydence,
    Love and special wishes,
    Magical moments,
    Neatly finished,
    One of a kind,
    Page after page,
    Quick to learn,
    Read and write,
    Share together,
    Tonight,
    Until you grow,
    Very smart,
    Waltz through life,
    Xylophone playing,
    Your tune,
    Zoom, zoom.

  14. Tracy Davidson

    To my framily, thank you

    like Greta Garbo
    I asked to be left alone…
    they wouldn’t listen
    wouldn’t let me drift away
    in the void of depression

    my friends and family
    they brought me back from the brink
    their support stopped me
    from doing something stupid
    made me want to live again

  15. Cynthia Page

    Battle Lines

    The only thing you can do
    when family wants to fix you –
    Retreat, regroup, revise battle plans,
    and then charge through life as if
    you know what you’re doing.

  16. shethra77

    Babies

    When I was pregnant with twins,
    I asked God a lot about why.
    Why twins, why me, why?
    God smiled, and gently told me
    I had agreed to take them.
    Astonishing!
    Genes had lain in wait from generations back—
    great-great aunts who had twins
    (both sides, my mom’s and my dad’s.)
    No one else
    had borne twins since then—
    about the turn of the twentieth century. But
    I was doomed.

    Their sister, two and a half years old,
    tried to tell me over and over again
    before ultrasound proved it. Lisping, she’d say,
    “There are two babies.”
    I’d say, “No, Lily, Mama will go crazy if
    she has two babies.”
    This was a poor argument—
    it’s likely I have always been crazy.
    (Another genetic thing.)

    Three months later I had to tell her,
    “You were right, Mama was wrong.
    There are two babies.”
    Unimpressed, she grunted, stuck her little
    nose in the air and stalked off. It is difficult knowing
    more than Mom when you are little.

    Tom and I named them Elizabeth and Ellen.
    Lily wanted different names, and
    Lizzy and Elly have informed me that their sister’s names
    would have been way more cool.
    Phooey.
    They will just have to add it to the list each child keeps
    of things their parents did wrong.
    And they can name our grandchildren
    Batman and Turtle Power.

  17. Meriadoc

    Sacrament

    Iron bond, the bond of kin
    the bond of kindred mind
    The link so deep, so very deep
    so very deep entwined

    To seek the Heart, too weak the Heart
    to meet the Heart Divine
    The wine is Blessed, to be expressed
    this Sacred tie that binds

  18. grcran

    Friendly Ending

    And at the end the friends and family came ‘round
    They paid their best respects. The dying one
    Gave no observed response, though feeling went to ground
    The same way starting gun lets out its sound

    Some thought life tapered out and others knew that ton
    Of truth that tells us we remain alive
    The guts to stand and face this thing instead of run
    Combining trust and faith we know tis done

    with ease and with the energy that does derive
    when friends whose kindly caring hearts have found
    companionship for even deeper loving drive
    Transporting family member thus to thrive

    by gpr crane

  19. Jolly2

    THE GET-TOGETHER
    By John Yeo
    ~
    The coach sped through the dark night,
    We were on the way to grieve,
    Sadness had gripped the dying embers
    When Grandfather passed away.
    ~
    Many people gathered to mourn his flight,
    To wish him well, now he had taken his leave.
    The get-together, the homily, everyone remembers.
    A fine man with his humorous way.
    ~
    Friends and family gathered, to respect his wishes.
    A solemn occasion, the priest began to read
    These words were his testament from beyond,
    Addressed to us all as we waited.
    ~
    My dear friends and family, I have no issues,
    To leave. I love you all and I say God-speed!
    Be as happy as I was, I love you together,
    MY FRAMILY, I love you all still.

    ~

    Copyright © Written by John Yeo~ All rights reserved.

  20. lionetravail

    “Megan”

    She’s half-Chinese; half more than me,
    we share no branch on family tree,
    and yet, I think of her as ‘sis’.
    Each time I find to reminisce,
    my thoughts of her are potpourri.

    I love the way she strives to be,
    enjoy her personality,
    and I can’t find a thing amiss-
    and she’s half more Chinese than me.

    Likely unshared paternity
    gave her half more maturity
    than I can claim. I’m sure it’s this
    that lets us share framilial bliss
    without romantic repartee-
    she’s half-Chinese, and family.

  21. Amaria

    “Brother”

    We are bonded by our blood
    two siblings against the world
    I now find myself watching
    your light slowly drift away

    I try to recall our youth
    of us playing in green grass
    or jumping on your high bed
    despite our mother’s stern look

    though I was ashamed of you
    for not being “normal”
    in time I learn to love you
    as you are, imperfectly

    and now I watch you succumb
    in this deformed body that
    followed you into this life
    slowly draining your bright light

    but life is not always fair
    It was you that taught me that
    so I cherish the brief times
    for I know they are numbered

    In my mind I buried you
    over a thousand times yet
    you still linger here like a
    promise that will not prevail

  22. jhowe

    Journey

    The comfort of family and the luxury of friends has seen me through.

    A calm oasis amongst an expanse of turbulent sands.

    An acceptance of starting fresh when approval is scant.

    Caring, nurturing, forgiving, thrilling.

    Apologies accepted but not always needed.

    Conversing over cocktails or the kitchen table.

    Sabers rattle, trees topple, love perseveres.

    Persuasion and guile are unnecessary tools.

    We love to laugh and we laugh together.

    Somewhere between genius and madness,

    you’re still thrilling me.

  23. Azma

    WEDDING IN THE FRAMILY

    Parents are relieved
    that their life is set
    Friends go wild
    with the endless bachelorette
    Sisters can’t stop
    their shopping spree
    Grandparents shower
    advice for free
    Brothers plot
    pranks on the couple
    Uncles stern
    to keep them off trouble
    The bride prepares
    for a bridal glow
    The groom has tension
    building on his brow

  24. Cameron Steele

    What My Family Forgets And/Or Maybe Just Me

    My boyfriend and I walked to the grocery store
    right around the corner nine-thirty Wednesday night.
    We had run out of toilet paper or inspiration for anything
    else to do. And, I guess. He’d already cut the grass,
    you see, I’d already called my mother. Finally, we’d
    already, somewhat surprisingly, made it to sex
    stripped down in September heat made love
    before dusk. Good love in the end but out of
    toilet paper. And bored. Too. Also, paper towels,
    as I’m sure you well know, chaff used too
    many times in one week, then rashes.
    Let’s be adults, I said, let’s go to Russ’s
    he agreed, twenty-four-hour groceries,
    six-ninety-nine, what you usually spend for Charmin
    or just better than normal “bathroom tissue.”
    Of course roamed down each aisle, no,
    skipped or forgot pet supplies on five, the cart and basket.
    Or, I should say. Ten-oh-eight too soon before three hoagie
    rolls for one dollar. Not bad before linked sausages
    three times as much, patties a dollar more.
    Grapefruit juice, no sugar-added,
    Ruby Red, you’ll find, is really pink.
    Bananas, six, slightly green the way
    he likes them. And I don’t. All total
    twenty-three dollars on my credit card.
    We walked home in the dark the so dark
    with club soda, too. And we couldn’t
    hold hands. So or because, I think.
    And no moonlight the trees inn Nebraska kind of surprised me at first.
    And lastly. We saw a small snake moving, random or not,
    across cracked lines in the sidewalk. I need to call my mother
    more often but we always or usually forget to buy the toilet paper or
    whatever it is we need. But we didn’t go back, would you?
    The snake, small, understandably vital disappeared toward
    the store the inspiring light of it behind us.
    And I forgot with it on my backside, showing the way home.
    There was still no moon.

  25. grcran

    Framily Fiend

    She was a fiend of the framily
    None of the grandchildren liked her much
    She gave them presents with a witch’s touch

    She was eccentric it was plain to see
    She went outside and got her smoking on
    She was tormented from sunset to dawn

    She told us all about the chain-saw gang
    They cut her ceiling threw her down and tied
    her til she phoned police, twas wolf she cried

    The family friends enjoyed a laugh or two
    But her three sons did worry long and hard
    We thought she might need padded walls and barred

    Windows let too much light into her brain
    Illuminated things not meant to show
    Genetic changes not supposed to grow

    And at the end it was not that nice
    My mom into the framily fiend had grown
    She saw all three sons then she died alone

    by gpr crane

      1. grcran

        I still remember her with love, and remember well the person she was before the mental illness… but the poem has extra meaning for me, in the sense that I want to be vigilant of my own mental health and get help if needed, so that my kids don’t have to write this same poem in the future, about me, their dad…

        1. TomNeal

          She saw all three sons then she died alone

          I agree with William: this is an unsettling, but well crafted poem. The enjambment that crosses from the 4th to the 5th stanza is especially powerful in my opinion.

    1. grcran

      I thank all of y’all for your kind comments. I’ve spread the ashes of 5 loved ones in 3 years, but with her mental illness, Mom had started checking out 30 years ago, so she was easiest to grieve when she finally died… still, the poetry is therapeutic… your comments, too ;~)

  26. Sara McNulty

    Scrambly Framily

    Friends that share a home
    are their own family.

    Couples with children,
    or without, live as a family.

    Two women or two men, with children
    or without, are families.

    Any group of people living together,
    loving and caring, are families.

    Not all members of a family are friends.

    1. TomNeal

      “Scambly Family” is an intriguing poem that that demonstrates Lacan’s point about the “incessant sliding of the signified under the signifier [S/s]” more clearly than does Lacan himself. [Where "s" = signified, and "S" = signifier]

      Well done!

  27. Dorothy's Daughter

    A throw pillow
    under her shirt
    she previews
    months down the road
    for her five year old daughter.

    Too little to produce a kick
    but produces excitement
    with no problem. Big sister
    will have trouble pacing herself
    in the next six months.

    Drip, drop
    goes the spot
    on mommy’s panties.

    Unaware of the situation,
    the five year old plays
    at her aunt’s house.
    Mommy went to the hospital.

    But what they delivered
    they can’t take home.
    Auntie’s big sigh is enough
    to fill the room.

    Swollen blue eyes
    of a child greet
    two parents
    after…
    There isn’t a baby in their arms.

    They are a quiet collection
    of three,
    holding grudges
    all their own.

      1. Dorothy's Daughter

        Thank you. Marie Therese Knepper inspired me. She wrote about losing her big brother and it reminded me of a piece I wrote about losing my very first sibling so I decided to post it.

  28. Hannah

    Not Quite Right

    Friends pretend
    to like you or to not notice
    if you have spinach in your teeth.
    Family shouldn’t participate
    in such foolish make-believe.
    Not the real ones anyway –
    plus they should tell you
    when they’re moving out of state.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

  29. Connie Peters

    Multifaceted Family

    If you pulled my four sisters
    and I aside individually and asked
    us to describe our growing up years,
    our mom and dad, each other,
    our friends and relatives, our house,
    our country neighborhood,
    the things we did for fun,
    how we celebrated birthdays and holidays,
    how we spent vacations,
    our financial situation,
    what we were allowed to do,
    what we got in trouble for,
    the problems we faced,
    how we handled chores,
    meal times, school work,
    what Dad and Mom taught us,
    we’d sound like we came
    from five different families.
    I’m always surprised
    when we get together and reminisce,
    and it gets odder as we get older.

  30. candy

    Reunions

    “There will be no more family
    reunions. We voted, you know.”

    Does that mean those
    sepia-toned ancestors who
    smile down at me from inside frames
    hung on hooks above my bed
    are figments of my imagination

    Will I be forced to find an alternate
    group of mismatched people to
    share ridiculous stories with at reunions

    Can I possibly locate another Aunt Zelma
    with highly suspicious culinary skills or an
    Uncle Carl who thinks he’s fooling everyone
    by putting his liquor in a red plastic cup

    I’ll never stumble across a new Cousin Susan
    who tormented me mercilessly, pulled my hair,
    and tattled to my mother when I hid a plate of
    baked beans in a flower pot – but loved me unconditionally.

    Must I now strip the photo albums bare and
    start over with pictures of “framily” – learning the
    names and birth dates of strangers

    And next August will we hold our
    first Framily Reunion with silly games,
    lame prizes and casserole dishes that no one will eat

  31. taylor graham

    MIXED HERITAGE

    On the Indian-pattern bedspread, Blink
    is practicing his ancestral yoga, spine
    impossibly curved backwards in black-cat
    Crescent Moon pose; eyes closed, deep
    in meditation. He segues to Extended
    Sphinx, on his stomach, arms outstretched
    before him; claws retracted; inscrutable
    amber eyes half-open gazing into space.
    Loki, adopted sister/man’s best friend,
    leaps on the bed; lies prone before him,
    stretching her dog-paws to barely touch his.
    If only I had a camera to click this cat-dog
    communion. Blink poses dead-to-the-world
    and human thought. But Loki reads my
    mind, my wish to grab my iPad. Ah, but it
    breaks the spell. Loki leaps off the bed,
    Blink is gone in a cat-wink, with Loki in
    pursuit. The favorite family chase is on.

  32. Yolee

    Congestive Heart Failure

    For most of the country, summer’s green is turning
    like a sunburned leaf. But I can’t say that’s the case
    down here where heat is a dressing on every joint
    in Florida including Papi’s hospital room.

    My chief looks as if he stepped on a watercolor.
    Purple and white are taking over the soles of his feet,
    Diabetes won’t let his kidneys sift. From toes
    to stomach, he is waterlogged.

    The doctor comes in and I ask him to explain
    the startling diagnosis bricked upon other
    ailments. I thought I knew what congestive heart
    failure is, but not on him. It doesn’t make sense
    that the man whom guards the essence of kindness
    and humanity with words has a weary heart.

    I listen as Papi fluffs yet another compliment for yet
    another nurse. They all walk out of his room as if he
    placed enchanter nightshades on their shoulders;
    posture breaks bad; without question they become
    part of his ever expanding halo of friends.

    1. Yolee

      Thank you to each of you for kindly leaving me your encouraging response. I love how poetry makes a connection that is both unique and universal. I admire your works and feel inspired by it.

  33. jasonlmartin

    The Silentist

    The quiet is invisible, sly, in the midst of the din
    where there’s a hunger for all voices to hush, listen
    to the Conversationalist, who swallows attention
    as a desert does water, all eyes marvel his distinction.

    Perfect for a spy, says the Silentist, in his unique
    conveyance of thought, moving in hide and seek
    movements across the floor. The prey to attack
    is the kind you distract, not the kind you pique.

    The Silentist walks the journey alone, not as thief,
    as it’s not as if the Conversationalist puts up a sheath
    to hide his overflowing voice. We take what he will leave
    in the open, brain to lungs and chords to tongue and mouth.

    To say more of the Silentists would be careless, verbose.
    But keep talking, and we will be close.

  34. priyajane

    For My Framily Of Stars

    You seem far away
    stellar and intrinsic
    magnifying in my mind
    fused memories concentric
    Someday we shall sing
    like siblings, close clustered
    for now dense gravity
    separates me, from your luster—-

  35. Michelle Hed

    Blurred Lines

    Friends hold your hand
    when family can’t…
    they hold your secrets close.

    Family bonds
    cross political and religious boundaries
    as if they didn’t exist.

    Friends and family blend and bond
    creating invisible threads which holds us together.

  36. writinglife16

    PROBLEMS TO SOLVE

    That holiday we all came
    bearing food and shame.
    Hiding secrets and pain.

    Kids not living up to parents expectations.
    Parents not realizing
    their expectations were just that.
    Theirs.

    Cousins supporting each other.
    Understanding more
    and judging less.

    Friends making the family
    happy on one hand
    and relieved on the other
    that there were no blood ties.

    We ate and talked.
    The hours passed.
    Solved everyone’s problems.
    Had dessert and then
    solved the world’s problems.

    Later, we packed up food to go.
    Then sat down to rest.
    And ate again.

    I wondered why.
    Where there more problems to solve?

  37. Marie Therese Knepper

    I Wish

    (in memory of my “big” brother Joseph “Joey” Lato)

    You were so big when I was little –
    A giant slaying dragons –
    A sage with huge muscles –
    And a smile that said “I love you.”

    I wish I was still little
    So you could be big again.

    1. Dorothy's Daughter

      This made me cry. It is succinct and poignant. Thanks for writing something that is painful. It takes courage to do that. It is a beautiful tribute.

  38. Ann M

    leather gloves

    the leather gloves
    you gave me one birthday
    have fallen into the gutter
    cracked in the cold
    laid out in the rain
    and turned from brown
    to gold like a river pebble
    caught by the current
    thrown over the falls
    buried deep in earth
    to be mined
    speck by
    shining speck
    when i need
    to remember you.

  39. De Jackson

    Brother and sister together, friends forever.

    We sing it in to you both
    like a mantra
    a slogan of siblingdome,
    from the early days when you ran
    around together, blocks and babies
    flung and clung to with equal measure.

    We treasure every too-short moment,
    when we aren’t reeling from the mack
    -truck feeling of 2 under 2, diapers x2,
    too much too soon, two
    16 months apart (God’s timing, not ours.)

    We mediate the wars of preschool, adolescence:
    he’s doing this, and she’s bugging that
    and it’s not fair! and I want! and Miiiiine!

    We watch time tick all too fast,
    younger sis heading to Jr. High at last.
    Big brother walks her in, proud.
    My heart in my ears, loud. Prayers for
    soft hearts, thick skins, strong bodies,
    sharp minds, and always, always
    our decree:

    Brother and sister together, friends forever.

    Never do I regret a single day.
    But I do want a time machine.
    High fives now, mostly. You’re too old to kiss
    in public.

    I beg for a time machine. Most days I miss:
    Trains made of pink shelf bins
    and tiny purses full of Legos.

    .

  40. PowerUnit

    The referee settles the armchair disputes.
    Detroit Lion mindlessness and dinner table politeness.
    The heat of the football conversation could light the Thanksgiving candles
    At least he came this year; though Grandpa doesn’t give a hoot.

    Murder mystery and mystery of murder, debate the quivering quiet.
    The children finally in bed and our glasses full of red.
    We never look at each other from inside our books.
    Popcorn and chips, our evening diet.

    Driving arguments aggravate the urge to arrive.
    Thirty year anniversary conversation and plastic wine glass flirtation.
    A sunny afternoon of old acquaintance rekindling.
    The fires die in the return home drive.

  41. Nancy Posey

    Aunt Lula

    Aunt Lula was not my aunt, a point
    I overlooked until I was grown
    and she, long dead. Otherwise,
    I might have thought to ask why
    she was black and we were white.
    It never once crossed my mind.

    Sitting in my great granny’s parlor,
    she watched her stories, knitting
    furiously, never looking down,
    sweaters or shawls I never saw
    completed. Those two fussed
    over who worked the crossword
    in the newspaper they shared.

    She schooled us on charms
    and curses, cures passed down
    from her grannies, foreign to doctors
    but well-known along their lane.
    Warts vanished at her touch,
    aided by a copper penny minted
    the year she was born. Thrush
    spotted babies’ mouths she sent
    down the alley to Jamie, born
    just weeks after her father’s death.

    She had children of her own, one
    light-skinned enough to pass
    up North, others darker, bearing
    uncanny likeness to the doctor
    whose house she cleaned Fridays.
    When she died, her dishes, fine
    English bone china still in crates,
    never used, too good to use
    she always said, she left to me.

  42. annell

    Family
    In the beginning
    Mother and Daddy
    Sisters Aunts and Uncles
    Grandparents
    Now almost all are gone
    Now my family is
    The sun and the moon
    All the stars in the sky
    And you
    My special family
    My best friend
    You are the one
    You are my family to me

    August 3, 2014

  43. DanielR

    INVISIBLE
    My family was annoyed
    at my invisible friend John
    who I insisted upon
    inviting over for dinner
    most nights of the week
    when I was just a boy.
    Looking back, he was likely
    the closest friend I ever had.
    My sister told me to “shut up”
    when I laughed at John’s jokes
    in front of her friends. He said,
    “girls were stupid” and I agreed.
    He was the only one I told
    that I still wet the bed,
    he just shrugged his shoulders and
    we went outside to play.
    I wonder where John is these days,
    if he’s had a happy life
    and if he ever thinks of me.

    Daniel Roessler

  44. DanielR

    DISTORTED
    Sometimes I feel like
    you are watching me
    through a tiny keyhole
    far away from where I stand.
    Your view distorts me
    into the man you want
    to see.
    But I know I’m still out
    of focus, fuzzy, a blur
    and why would I expect
    it to be any different?
    How can I ask you
    to find clarity
    when I am still
    a stranger to myself?

    Daniel Roessler

  45. TomNeal

    Collateral Damage

    I might not have been,
    I was not planned
    She loved another
    But he was damned

    By a distant gun-
    A German shell
    (War is hell)
    Made space for me
    To become, to be.

    It was not the plan,
    But here I am
    In my contingency
    Their son I am.

    1. PressOn

      I hear Green Eggs and Ham here, probably because of short lines, cadence, and final line. I don’t know if that was intended, but the dual imagery makes this one all the more powerful for me.

    2. drnurit

      A very thought provoking poem, Tom! For me, the allusion to Sartre’s “in my contingency” creates a poetic dialectical tension between “collateral damage” and the view that we create the world in which we live. Seemingly simple but going deep!

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