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.


Re-create Your Poetry!

Revision doesn’t have to be a chore–something that should be done after the excitement of composing the first draft. Rather, it’s an extension of the creation process!

In the 48-minute tutorial video Re-creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will be inspired with several ways to re-create their poems with the help of seven revision filters that they can turn to again and again.

Click to continue.


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…


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. pipersfancy


    Mother’s beliefs float overhead, drifting
    light as balloons in the early morning breeze.
    At times, they might dip downward, her
    thought bubbles bumping into mine, but
    mostly I try to keep mine to myself.

    They’re all that remain of her now, outdated
    points of view from an archaic time.
    Perhaps, I’m the only one who can see them.
    Although, sometimes when I close my eyes
    I hear her words echoing from my mouth

    and I realize how strong her layers of
    foundation are in me.

  2. Jane Shlensky


    You know the ones you call your own,
    children of other parents, sisters and brothers
    by choice, the ones some deeper impulse
    moves you to connect with and keep.

    They are not blood, but they are heart.
    They show up when you need them
    and they stay when they need you,
    a vital exchange, a promise, is made

    and you know even when your biological
    family suffers and dies, it will be your
    chosen ones who will see you through,
    your chosen who will understand.

  3. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    Whenever I see your smiling face,
    In my mind, I always race,
    To that long ago time and place,
    And I wonder, wonder.

    If I had done what I should’ve done,
    Instead of a daughter and three sons,
    We might have had more, or maybe none,
    And I wonder, wonder.

    But then these children we don’t share,
    Would not be here to find us there,
    Full of worry, love, and care;
    And I wonder, wonder.

    And what of our respective mates?
    The things they love, what each one hates;
    He is lost who hesitates.
    Yet I wonder, wonder.

    And once more I return to you;
    Could I have loved as I wanted to?
    And we done the things we thought we’d do?
    Yes, I wonder, wonder.

  4. Uma


    …a rippling brook
    nurtured by showers of love
    it grows

    Stumbling over pebbly fights
    boulders of disagreements
    its sprightly step slows
    the farther it goes

    Silent in joy and sorrow
    struck by a drought
    of communication

    Don’t dam up your voice
    little brook
    Nothing like a spot of thunder
    to clear the air
    Flow clear again

  5. Julieann


    Sometimes we know from whence
    We come, sometimes we don’t
    Some family histories are convoluted
    And others, well, not so much

    My family background might
    Possibly be called contentious
    Or as Mom aptly put it, all on our own
    We could start the next world war

    Our roots go back to Scotland
    And England, they never got along very well
    You know, all those
    Battles for independence

    And when we come across the pond
    We joined with those
    From the North and South
    Who even to this very day
    Don’t generally agree

    So my family in a nutshell
    Scotch or English, North or South
    We raise our colors, we pick a side
    We are grateful we are all American!

  6. SymannthaRenn

    _When Friends Become Sisters_
    red blood does not bind
    rings don’t make us kind
    just a contract signed
    not of the same mind
    friendship realigned
    sister reassigned
    my wing


    So this is a lai poem where lines 3, 6, and 9 are supposed to rhyme. Do you think they all rhyme?

  7. Bruce Niedt

    I swear I already posted this – was it deleted? Anyway, today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write apoem in which something magical or mysterious happens. I guess my granddaughter’s imagination counts, right?

    Hazel in the Tree House

    My granddaughter took the color of her eyes
    and made it the name of her imaginary friend.
    Hazel lived in a house in the cherry tree.
    Hazel would invite her up to play
    in the tree house with her pet baby elephant,
    and they would all dance a kind of jitterbug.
    When she would bring her fairy wings
    and magic wand, Hazel turned into
    a real fairy and made her one too.
    They flitted around the windows
    of the houses of the neighborhood
    and peeked in. Hazel was the one who made
    her tree blossom all pink-white in April.

    But eventually imaginary friends move on,
    usually to another town, with another name
    to be friends with other girls and boys.
    So it was after one more spring spectacular
    that exploded the cherry tree with flowers,
    when Hazel left, practically overnight.
    The blossoms faded a few days later,
    and the wind caught up the falling petals
    into a swirling cascade that to most people
    looked like snow, but to Madison
    they looked like tears.

  8. Smruti

    Family moments

    Going out for dinners and movies
    Was a favourite family outing for us
    I remember my mom dad dressing up finely
    They sitting with pride
    As I drive my new car
    The mild excitement in our happiness
    Watching blockbuster movies on the big screen
    Then dining at our favourite restaurant
    These lovely pleasures come to my mind
    The joy in my life to see my parents happy.

  9. lsteadly

    Maybe They Will

    Here is the chance that so many
    mothers of sons live for but tend
    to ruin without meaning to
    just by their asking

    C., having moved in
    with a lovely woman S.
    we all love and I can
    picture her my daughter
    in law but I will not
    ask C. if that is his
    intention, for why should I
    put that kind of pressure
    on his uncertain shoulders?

    It is enough to know they have
    created endearing names for each other
    to see them lean in, offer
    them, tender, while she wears his t shirt,
    that they kayak on the lake before
    sunset and marvel at the mallards
    just like I do with you

    1. k weber

      how wonderful! i love that final stanza which reveals why the son should not be pressured. the listing of the amazing qualities of his relationship and that acknowledgment/acceptance of his relationship as it is – without expectation – is a huge moment!

    2. madeline40

      People always ask me if I ask my son and daughter-in-law questions about their private lives, and I always say no. They are adults. I feel I need to be supportive, but not pushy – like you portray so well in your poem. Thank you.

  10. Nancy Posey

    Her Real Mom

    She’s your little girl,
    the eyes, the wide smile
    are as reliable a testament
    as her birth certificate.

    But she slips and calls me Mama.
    She rarely asks about you
    any more., grown accustomed
    to a thousand little

    She wants a home,
    a forever family,
    certainty. She needs
    someone who loves her
    enough to read to her
    every night, makes sure
    she brushes her teeth,
    knows her tricks, plans
    for her future

    She needs you to love her
    enough to care for her
    or to tell the truth,
    that you weren’t ready
    to be her mother,
    won’t ever be ready.

    Eventually the heart
    keeps breaking or
    turns cold.

  11. Nancy Posey

    Family Pictures

    All day I’ve been sifting
    through the stacks of photographs
    stored for years in boxes, dated
    by their shape and size and color—
    deckled edges from the fifties,
    backed by postcards before that,
    faded to orange tint from the seventies.

    Even the ones from my lifetime
    pose questions: Is the baby me
    or Becky? I search for clues
    in the blacks and gray background.

    Each of us poses besides the same stool
    in the same studio. We all slept
    in that same wicker bassinette,
    but that baby could be Mama,
    once a sleeping baby too.

    The older photos, some creased,
    most sepia, capture wide eyes,
    unsmiling, some bearing family
    resemblance, a cut of jaw,
    Cherokee features. Perhaps
    those somber gazes, rigid poses
    only attest to the novelty,
    the mystery of photography.

    Not for the first time, I wonder:
    Will my children, grandchildren,
    dig through boxes of snapshots
    or will our images be lost
    in the clouds, floating decades
    from now with all those songs
    we failed to make tangible?

  12. MichelleMcEwen

    Like Mama

    the things that don’t get passed

    like mama’s

    & full-lipped

    like mama’s
    swayback knees

    like mama’s

    like mama’s

    or bats
    or rats

    or stray dogs
    running toward

    showing teeth.

  13. candy

    Funny …..

    It’s not always family
    Who know you best
    Your passions
    Your fears
    Your dreams
    Funny –
    It’s not always family
    You tell your secrets
    You ask for help
    Funny –
    Though, it usually is

  14. bethwk

    Sometimes it all comes ready-made,
    like seeds, like sunshine, like rain.
    But sometimes you make it yourself.
    Take a little clay, a palmful of water,
    sculpt and carve, shift and caress,
    with great care and concentration.

    And sometimes it all just gets
    tossed in your direction,
    bits and pieces scattered on the wind,
    and you take the threads into your hands
    and begin to weave. And you chant,
    and you dance, and then it happens.

    There’s no single formula for family,
    no direction manual, no guide.
    Blood’s one sacred element, certainly,
    but water will do it, or wind,
    whatever hold the souls together,
    like laughter, like tears.


  15. P.A. Beyer

    Collin’s Piano

    The black bench
    Seats the keymaster
    Who opens no
    Doors. To anyone
    Who will listen,
    Each note strike –
    A fleck of sound
    fleeing. The call
    of ancestors not
    forgotten. Words
    today, too imperfect
    for a perfectionist.
    The unending concerto
    Dressed up for dinner. No
    Applause required. But
    Dessert should always
    Come first.

  16. Nick

    Live under rocks,
    under the surface of water.
    Come up for air,
    poisonous if eaten,
    the color of a rubber band,
    cute when young,
    and are stronger then you think.
    Haven’t seen them for years-
    though I think of them often-
    kind of like my family

  17. robinamelia

    Spring Off

    They can live across the continent, the ocean, even off world,
    when that becomes possible, but they’ll never break free,
    (I haven’t), never stop having the arguments,
    wanting the praise, the apology, the change, (a wish
    that holds sweetly onto hope) but DNA
    batters us into certain shapes (that belly!),
    gestures, smiles, ways of throwing a glass
    across the room that makes the biggest mess,
    makes us know we are the nut
    and the tree is ever near.

  18. Bruce Niedt

    Hazel in the Tree House

    My granddaughter took the color of her eyes
    and made it the name of her imaginary friend.
    Hazel lived in a house in the cherry tree.
    Hazel would invite her up to play
    in the tree house with her pet baby elephant,
    and they would all dance a kind of jitterbug.
    When she would bring her fairy wings
    and magic wand, Hazel turned into
    a real fairy and made her one too.
    They flitted around the windows
    of the houses of the neighborhood
    and peeked in. Hazel was the one who made
    her tree blossom all pink-white in April.

    But eventually imaginary friends move on,
    usually to another town, with another name
    to be friends with other girls and boys.
    So it was after one more spring spectacular
    that exploded the cherry tree with flowers,
    when Hazel left, practically overnight.
    The blossoms faded a few days later,
    and the wind caught up the falling petals
    into a swirling cascade that to most people
    looked like snow, but to Madison
    they looked like tears.

  19. cantka1

    Edited Analogy

    As an unconsidered notion, it might work:
    family as basecamp
    for one’s quests and expeditions.

    But within a span of seconds
    my people can blizzard me.
    They can run the river of their words so rocky
    that I go under.

    I also have the power to banish and maim,
    to leave a loved one hungry
    for what I will not heave down and share.

    Maybe it’s the rest of the world
    that equips us to climb back into our family,
    that provisions us for the exposures and starvings
    so that we can have those moments
    when we summit and sing our delight into the sky.

  20. JoMae

    Family Camping

    Every summer for many years we spent two weeks
    at Hamlin Beach Campgrounds
    dad driving off to work each day
    kids running free or at the rec hall
    mom in the hammock with a book.
    We spent our ‘real’ vacation setting
    up near cities to explore – or some
    exotic travel destination. Still, as
    soon as school was let out, the
    camper and tents all packed,
    the bike rack filled, we were
    off to Hamlin’s open arms.
    A place we loved that over time became a part of us.


  21. Sara McNulty

    Under A Tin Roof

    Those southerners, Maggie and Brick
    had issues–who would Big Daddy pick?
    Mae and Goober had kiddies
    who rehearsed sappy ditties
    to sing to Big Daddy, hoping he’d be philanthropic

  22. De Jackson

    Family Secrets

    In case you’re wondering
    (over Chips Ahoy and tea),
    they’ve got a couple of skeletons
    in the closet and a portrait in the
    attic (Auntie Mary Ellen – she’s
    looked 35 her whole life, you know,
    and she’s 80 now.)
    Uncle Jay can’t
    stop drinking, and Cousin Gia can’t
    stop smiling, and nobody knows why.
    Great-Grandpa Georgie always smells
    like cheese. Marky’s not the smartest
    knife in the drawer, but he’s the
    brightest, with a smile like the rising
    sun. Ancestry.com isn’t gonna weigh
    in on this one – where they’re from
    or how many miles so-and-so traveled
    so many years ago to get them all
    here (and there, and over yonder).
    But they’re fonder of each other
    than most, and they boast a Phd or
    two, and more than a few who’ve
    made a difference in a world where
    more is whispered than said right
    out loud. There’s soil under their
    nails and mud on their boots
    and their clouds have storms and
    silver linings. And their family tree?
    Smallish branches; deep down roots.


    So far this month I am writing a poem each day that collects ALL of the prompts so far. This is that poem for today. We’ll see how far I get as the month goes on. It’s probably gonna get a little silly all up in here. 😉

  23. trishwrites


    It was one of those heavy
    July nights
    A summer pink sky
    already saying goodbye
    When you said
    I’m only twenty-three
    There’s so much to see

    And all I could answer
    was “I know”

    Two words
    And me learning to
    let go

    So many thoughts run
    A riot
    through my head
    as you stand at the gate
    and I try to
    say the right thing

    I open my mouth
    My tongue suddenly
    doesn’t know what to do
    Until I blurt
    You’ll always have a home
    to come back to

    Words weighted
    with more than
    sunsets on a northern sky
    A room filled with
    pretty dresses
    Your tomorrows mapped
    in a world not big
    enough to hold your dreams
    My blood that runs
    through your veins
    The place carved inside me
    forever designed
    to hold you

    You turned
    And just before you left
    with one final wave
    You said
    I know

    1. lsteadly

      Love this- puts a lump in my throat. Letting our children go is such an emotional time (my 23 year old son just moved out of state 3 months ago…)

  24. Daniel Paicopulos


    The moment of his death had come,
    with certainty, and of course, finality,
    there in the middle of the night,
    no idea of the time,
    simply an assurance that it was now,
    after what seemed like a month of
    watching and waiting,
    my step-sisters,
    his widow-to-be,
    and me.
    Together in that apartment,
    but each of us
    alone with him as well,
    receiving guests, family, friends,
    first when he was awake,
    then during the stove-pipe coma,
    finally ushering in
    the ministry of Hospice.
    All conversations had been
    one-way for a while,
    all of us wanting to say the things
    we missed saying in brighter times.
    It was mid-sentence in one such talk
    That I knew, then flew about the home,
    gathering us all around that bed,
    everyone questioning the need,
    the urgency, not fathoming
    the emergency, when, from
    the depths of the disease
    that was taking him, he
    woke, and smiled
    as he never had before,
    looked around the bed,
    nodding at each of us in turn,
    my sisters and me, then,
    finding his wife,
    found the capacity to speak
    of his love once more,
    and just then,
    the moment came.

  25. De Jackson

    Punnett Squares & Open Chairs

    They’ve got redheads and green-eyed
    and sisters with curly and
    some with straight, and at this rate
    the world may never know who’s who
    or how it all
    (dominant, recessive,
    genotype, phenotype,

    came together
    but when Mama cooks the Sunday stew
    and the fosters and the steppies
    and the birthed and the adopted
    and the yoursmineours
    and the exchange student from Sweden
    and the neighbor kids who needed surrogates
    all come together and clasp hands
    and share hearts,
    family’s family
    and the only science needed
    is the alchemy of love.


  26. Marie Elena

    I’ve been writing of family nearly non-stop for a few months. Now that I’m asked to write of family, I can think of nothing but the poem my father wrote to my mother for her 60th birthday. After 71 years together, Mom passed on February 9th. Dad followed her only 35 days later, on March 15.

    This poem? THIS is family, to me. Enjoy.

    by James F. Fagnano

    He created all that we are,
    and are not aware of.

    And so that we might “know,”
    he created all things in opposite,
    and extremes.

    He created joy.
    The unbounded joy in everything that is good and beautiful.

    And sorrow.
    The unending sorrow of man’s inhumanity to man.

    He created heat
    So searing, it turns all it touches into itself.

    And cold
    So penetrating, it can suspend the very essence of life.

    He created the winds
    With power enough to destroy anything man erects.

    And calm
    So still, even the spider’s web is unmoved.

    He created love
    So full and without reservation, that he gave us his son.

    And hate
    So destructive, it renders us incapable of love and joy.

    And he created you.

    You are joy.
    The joy that brought balance to the sorrows of life.

    You are love.
    The love that reproduced itself in two beautiful children.

    You are warmth.
    The warmth in a world that often seems cold and uncaring.

    You have been like a cool breeze,
    blowing gently through my life.

    And like God,
    Who created all things,
    I, too, will love you

    © James F. Fagnano, 1992

    1. De Jackson

      Oh, Marie. So thankful for this kind of love. How beautiful. You already know I am praying for you, and carry your heart in mine through this loss. So thankful for the joy and truth you are finding at the center of it all. Love you, my amazing friend.

    2. lsteadly

      Marie, this brought me to tears, not just the loss of both of your parents, but the tender beauty your father expressed in his love for your mom and your family. My prayers are with you. Thank you for sharing such a personal piece.

  27. madeline40

    A Taboo Subject

    When our son and daughter-in-law
    said they weren’t planning
    to have children
    it felt like another death.
    We had already been through
    our older son’s death
    and the thought of no grandchildren
    only increased the pain.
    They didn’t want to talk about it,
    except to say, they are happy
    just being as they are
    and didn’t feel they had
    to have children to please us.
    They even told me not to write about it,
    but I couldn’t help myself here.

    1. k weber

      i enjoyed this poem. it made me a little uncomfortable because i never wanted to have children BUT reminded me that we all deserve to express ourselves and no harm in processing a perspective – especially via poetry… how lucky we are to utilize this craft 🙂 i, too, wrote about some things today that others in my family might gasp to read. i am glad you took a leap and shared a difficult matter; especially when we have some discomfort in having the deeper conversations about certain topics with those involved.

      1. madeline40

        Thank you for your thoughts, K. Yes, I’ve used the craft of writing for healing. I have a memoir about the death and aftermath of our older son. And of course lots of poems.
        I’ll check out your work today.

  28. PowerUnit


    Ten in-law fingers lipping the chip-dip,
    Nine sets of eyes fixed on The Masters. waiting for the last putt,
    Eight sibling sedans parked in the driveway waiting for sobriety to regain control,
    Seven second-cousins exploring a basement which had never seen a child,
    Six cousins mixing drinks and remembering when they drank right from the bottles,
    Five lonely spouses planning the next get-away,
    Four pictures of grandparents ignored in revelry,
    Three uncles smoking on the back lawn reminiscing lost liberties,
    Two dogs tied in the yard engaged in a sleeping contest,
    One pedantic wife washing dishes and glasses so all can eat and drink,
    And the uncountable birthday boy shaking every man’s hand and kissing every girl’s cheek.

  29. SarahLeaSales

    The Story of SamIAne

    Her parents had made life too easy for her,
    her husband, harder than it had to be.
    Though she’d often felt like the Marilyn Munster of her family,
    that family she’d been born into had been made for her,
    or rather,
    by their raising,
    she had been made for them,
    breaking the mold,
    but not rolling too far from the tree.
    However, she, with the man she had chosen—
    the co-creator of her little one—
    mixed as well as spaghetti carbonara with colcannon potatoes,
    for they were the mirror of Sam Malone and Diane Chambers.
    And yet,
    they had created something extraordinarily beautiful—
    a powerful epoxy that was forty pounds of flesh.

  30. LeeAnne Ellyett

    Family Gene

    How did it start? At 4 o’clock
    when grandpa rolled out his cart,
    to announce “Cocktail Hour”
    so the story goes, I was to small to know.

    With childhood memories of summer parties,
    Dad and his buddies, dancing on the cottage roof
    Mom and the ladies drinking wine at the beach,
    All of us kids, playing within reach.

    Now, it’s my time to grow up
    and what do I do, marry a drunk
    summer parties ensue, time for a change,
    Mom and dad divorce, I do too.

    Dad moves to the country to hide
    the bitterness and anger, fueled by vodka
    Mom moves on too, with a guy that brews wine,
    and I give it all my first try.

    Today, Dad is gone
    not from the vodka, but the smokes that went along
    Mom still goes on, at 71,
    she starts at ” Cocktail Hour”, by 7 she’s done.

    And I find myself in addiction therapy
    trying to fight the family gene,
    passed on to me.

  31. Eileen S

    Updating the Family Tree

    As I look at the family tree
    that my late aunt compiled twenty years ago,
    I realize that most of the people
    that I was related to then are now dead.
    I look at the blank spaces on the tree and
    sadly, I update the death dates
    and cemetery information.
    I think about what these people meant to me
    and how I miss them.
    The good news is that
    a nephew who wasn’t born at the time is now added
    and a marriage is also added.
    But there are more deaths recorded than births and marriages.
    I wonder if anyone will care
    that I took the time to update this information.

  32. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    Under an early evening sky,
    The arbor lay splintered beneath the pine.
    Cutting it free took several tries;
    Dad pulled his side, I pulled mine.
    He said, “You cannot push the blade,
    “It takes us both to do our part,
    “That’s the way the saw is made.
    “And the same thing’s true for a woman’s heart.”
    We started back and cut some more,
    As the sun set low behind the trees.
    Lights appeared at the windows and door,
    The smell of woodsmoke on the breeze,
    There wasn’t much more left to say;
    The work, and wisdom, done for the day.

  33. MargoL

    The Apology

    It was sometime
    in the middle of the week,
    when I last spoke
    to you.

    I called you that night,
    anxious to mend a wrong.
    My son had lied to you,
    this would not do,
    I passed the phone to him,
    and with tears in his eyes
    he apologized.

    As a mother I knew,
    I had taught him well
    in the merits of respect.
    No, this would not do,
    after all he needed to show
    respect to his grandmother.

    I still remember,
    your humble reply,
    “It’s O.K. he doesn’t need
    to apologize.”

    But as a proud mother
    I had insisted, over
    what now seems only
    as a trivial matter.

    I don’t even think that
    we had a real conversation
    that night.

    Oh, but I wish we had.

    For only a few days later,
    I lost you.
    My sweet, sweet mother.

  34. MET

    Ancestor Who Unknowingly Carried a Gene

    Somewhere back there
    On my father’s side
    An ancestor brought
    A gene into our family line
    Which carried PKD.
    Polycystic… because it makes many cysts
    Kidney…because that is where it strikes
    Disease… hints that it might be cured
    But it won’t.
    We all have carried the worry
    That we carry the PKD gene.
    My father had it;
    My brothers did also, but
    I have shown no signs of it.
    To the ancestor who brought this to us,
    I have mixed feelings…
    I wish the disease had not come, but…
    I loved who we were, and
    Without you…
    We might not have been us.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    April 8, 2018

  35. DaveIst


    The seed was planted
    Unwanted, Unexpected, Secret, Hidden
    A life of shame, embarrassment and fear
    Hidden from public gaze and censure
    From the seed’s inauspicious start grew
    Roots that delved, discovered,
    Investigated the unknown; penetrating to unfathomed depths.
    Branches that blossomed forth and spread
    Bringing shelter, perfume, fruit and shade.
    From that unpublicised beginning a
    Progeny of science, engineering, medicine, business, music, art
    Sprung forth and pushed down.
    A tree of grandeur, honour, fame and pride

  36. MET

    The Long Road to Forgiveness

    It is never easy to speak of past wrongs.
    It is like pulling a scab off an old wound…
    The one you placed there, Grannie,
    When you told me; I was unwanted;
    That each of you wanted me gone…
    These bedtime stories you told me
    Haunted my days when I was but three.
    Unlucky the days my parents left me in your care,
    For under the stairwell I spent the day in dark
    Unfed and soiled my middle brother found me.
    My father took you to his sister the next day, but
    It did not keep you away.
    You buried in my heart a dark anger, a consuming fire.
    The day you died I felt no sorrow….
    I only felt the hate I had placed there, but

    This is not about the wound you caused, but
    My road to healing and to forgiving you.
    I didn’t think I need God;
    Didn’t really believe in one and
    Especially a forgiving one, but
    There He was showing the darkness in my heart,
    And fell down asking to be healed.
    He gave me lightness in my soul.
    He nudged me to spill the anger,
    And I got the courage up
    Allowing my venom to flow into your grave,
    But when I stood up.
    I felt the lightness lift me.
    Each time anger of you cropped up…
    I would say a prayer of forgiveness.
    It took many of these prayers
    To where I believed the prayer I said.
    The day I did it was a grey day, but
    All I saw was light, dazzling light.
    My heart was lightness itself.
    In forgiving you
    I come to understand forgiveness
    At least for us humans…
    In comes in stages,
    I had to face who I was.
    I had to face my anger, and
    Then had to do it over and over again
    Until it was let go.
    This takes times. I am glad God is patient, for
    I am not.
    I know somehow you were forgiven, and
    When I get to heaven,
    This granddaughter wants to give you a hug.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    April 8, 2018

  37. Margot Suydam

    Witch Sister

    I visit you everyday
    in dreams you are

    a recorder, tow-haired tike
    breathing in the silence
    of plumwood.

    Then out you squeak
    the littlest among us
    a small squall

    racing without training
    wheels or maybe jumping

    Plum like pie crust
    you criss cross a steamy

    fruity flavor of bubble
    gum or cherry cough

    As if laughing could cure
    all ails, you summon
    the silliest joke

    book, conjure fresh
    food from plastic

  38. Janet Rice Carnahan


    No matter what we were saying
    Or doing
    Or discussing
    Pondering or wondering
    Dad always chimed in
    His advice
    His ideas
    His thoughts
    Thankfully his humor
    Expressing himself fully
    In the moment
    We loved it
    Laughed at it
    Enjoyed it
    Maybe even at times
    Scoffing at it
    Often realizing later
    He was a smart guy after all
    He knew a thing or two
    Life was his specialty
    Certainly, to his way of thinking
    And when he passed way
    That certain something
    right along with him
    We tell old stories, of course
    Which takes us back
    Yet one of the greatest gifts
    I received since then
    His old set of large wind chimes
    As I sit out of my deck with coffee
    Dad still chimes in
    Through each breeze
    Through the trees
    As if he is still here with me
    A part of our lives forever
    I just trust the wind
    To know he is here
    Always chiming in his love
    And now ever so subtle

  39. Tom Hayes


    I remember the days
    we buried mom and dad.
    Both occasions sad,
    but expected in life’s cycle.
    Yet losing sisters,
    one then two,
    causes you
    to reflect.
    We were a pack,
    sharing sibling secrets.
    Together, then grown apart,
    still bonded at heart.
    Now only a pair,
    I dare
    to wonder
    who will be last,
    leaving our past
    in shadows.

    1. MichelleMcEwen

      Aw, I love this— I’m the oldest having with three sisters (one of the a twin). I think about this all the time as we get older. Thanks for this poem.

  40. Janet Rice Carnahan


    the gathering of the group
    all our best efforts came out
    everyone brought their skills in
    we laughed and cried
    applauded and played

    yet once the structure did stick
    much of the joy got squeezed out

  41. Janet Rice Carnahan


    I had traveled to India
    Studying with other western students
    My time ended after 5 weeks
    Sitting in the airport
    Heading home
    I was suddenly missing my family
    Seeing them all in my mind
    Especially, my grown children
    A feeling of being alone
    Grabbed me unexpectedly
    I realized I knew no one
    anywhere around me
    which became daunting
    just as this loneliness
    An Indian man appeared
    standing in front of me
    Smiling and nodding
    Offering me a banana
    ‘Please, you look hungry’
    He said gently
    ‘I want to give you this.
    You are like my daughter
    You can be part of our family’.
    I looked into his kind eyes
    Seeing the sincerity
    I accepted the banana.
    I sat with the man and his wife for a time
    Chatting briefly
    about our lives and families
    Once our flight was called
    We parted ways
    They were going to meet their son
    I would be home
    To see my children and family
    Yet, I knew they had extended
    Their true hearts to me
    Touching me, moving me deeply
    Making me truly feel
    Like one of their family
    I still smile
    thinking of their thoughtfulness
    So far from home
    And bananas
    from that day on
    Never tasted
    quite so good

  42. jhmaloney


    Forced familiarity,
    by accident of birth
    and a quirk of evolution.
    Left largely unexamined,
    but what’s it really worth
    and is it the optimal solution?

  43. k weber


    I can’t write
    my family

    or the bleeding day-
    bed incident
    or their mouths

    of beer.

    I was scolded
    for still being
    a virgin at 19

    and tricked
    by legs dangling
    out of the closet

    in a fake suicide.

    There is no

    and never
    enough money
    to flee

    these scenes.

    My scars
    are larger
    than skin.

    My veins
    ache just

    these words.

    Better times
    are exhausted
    and forgotten.

    My heart
    no rhythm,

    only secrets.

  44. Joseph Hesch

    You Are Here

    There were six of us,
    a number now decreased to four,
    of which I was the oldest.
    And while some may think
    holding that position
    has hereditary privileges, it also
    has its responsibilities and duties.
    Or at least it did for me.
    If you take the role seriously,
    you’re the one who will mind
    the second or third littlest —
    change them, feed them, keep
    the roar down to a rumble —
    since Mom will be elbow deep
    into the youngest’s care.
    At seventeen, I ran away
    to a college out west (well,
    Rochester), giddy with the thought
    that finally I’d be alone to fend
    for myself and invent the guy
    I might really be, or wanted to be.
    All I was sure of was he looked
    just like me. And that was the problem.
    No matter how hard you try,
    eventually you’ll look at that guy
    in the mirror and see a nose like Dad’s
    and your sisters’s, eyes brown as Mom’s
    and your brother’s. A map of the place
    only your family lives. And you
    might as well admit it, that face,
    no matter who resides behind it,
    always leads you back to your family.
    And that’s where you’ll always belong.

  45. timphilippart

    September ’57, Whole Church Family Photo

    All saints herded to the front from where sermons usually flowed,
    Rev. Tom wished his altar call brought them forth like this.
    We huddled for the whole church family photo.
    The picture-taker, armed with point-and-shoot technology,
    with more fervor than the preacher usually mustered,
    exhorted us, “Act like you love one another. Scrunch up people,”
    as he hung from his 10 foot step ladder.
    That’s to get us all looking up at him,
    so’s we’d all look like we’re gazing up toward heaven.
    Memorialized since 1957, in one valiant photo,
    taken by Deacon Don,
    awe unparalleled, wonder and amazement unmatched,
    etched our faces, in the last snap,
    as the good deacon fell from the ladder.

  46. Cam Yee

    Daddy when you died
    I tried
    To cast a net around my memories
    But all I’ve caught are minnows
    Flashing silver for an instant
    The bigger fish lie hidden in the
    river bottom’s rocks

    1. MET

      love this… after my father died… I wrote in my journal that memories and moonbeams were there but not quite there… you caught this same idea

  47. cello


    The wound heals, the scar remains – Serbian Proverb

    Smells of water,
    earth and sweat mingle
    in the hot breath
    of a waning summer.

    Inside the canteen
    the slosh of water has lost
    its coolness. Its sound
    barely audible between mortar rounds.

    The water tastes of salt
    tinged with blood. My grandfather
    drinks. The wetness stings
    his cracked and bleeding lips.

    The red and gold strap
    hangs like a weighted pendulum.
    Time becomes the miles walked
    to the next creek, the next river.

    The carver of the canteen
    remains anonymous
    like poems whose origins
    are uncertain.

    Wheat on one side,
    grapes on the other—

    the symbols
    of bread and wine,
    the only communion
    in places without churches.

    I inherited
    Grandfather’s canteen
    wishing that all he knew
    were the sounds of peace.


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