Archives for category: IF I Poetry & Prose Series

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If I Had A Child
by Thomas Park

If I had a child
With my wife of two years

Our silent place would be noisy
Living room full of toys, activity

A person would be, who came from us
Part myself, part Torrey

The cats would step aside, to
A new occupant, having opposable thumbs

Bank accounts would drop, and free time
No longer free, would be occupied with this person

And travelling, hobbies, selfish activities
Given way to birth, raising, newer priorities

If I had a child, would writing end,
When a real person, walking, talking

Carrying forth my self, my name
Would do the work of chapbooks and anthologies

IMAGE: “Baby” by Gustav Klimt (1918).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem by sharing some considerations I have about the notion of having a child with my wife.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas Park is a multi-disciplinary artist. He lives with his wife and their two cats in South Saint Louis, Missouri. He has been published in several anthologies, and quite a bit online. He has a B.A. in English Literature from Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois).

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If I Had Not, If I Had
by Clive Collins

If I had not been late getting to my bus stop that day, I’d have missed the girl who stood before me saying, “Joy, remember? Holy Cross Infants and Juniors?”

I did, but I was a still-at-school seventeen-year-old ragamuffin, while she, in the years since last we’d met, had changed into a “glimmering girl.”

She lingered, like a smile. “You were kind to me, Walter.”

I disagreed, but she continued, “Yes, always ready with a sweet word you were when I was laughed at, shamed in the classroom. Without you, I’d have given up.”

I said I thought I’d only made things worse for her.

“You mean that silly ‘Walter, Walter, lead me to the altar’ business? I dreamed you would lead me there one day, when we were grown. We used to talk about going to live in Hollywood next door to Doris Day.

“What hurt was being called ‘gypsy’ all the time, because I was dark and we weren’t long off the boat from Ireland.”

I said she should forget the past; that if ever she had seemed gypsylike, she did no longer. “A princess now,” I mumbled.

She lowered her eyes and mimicked a curtsy.

“I mean it,” I said.

And then it was time for her to go. Parting, she slipped her fingers beneath my blazer’s frayed lapel. “I’d like us to be friends again, Walter.”

Joy O’Connell was what I had named her, a princess. I thought for a moment she might kiss me goodbye, and waited, wanting, fearing. She didn’t, though she waved as she moved away from me. Unkissed then, I remained a frog.

I never saw Joy again, although I think now if I had tried to, she might have been my life’s companion. That I did not remains beyond understanding.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The Wendy House, St Barnabas School, 1956. ‘”Joy” sits holding a dolly. The author, in unseasonal long-sleeved shirt and tie, kneels at the opposite end of the table from her.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece is an abridgment of a much longer, so far unpublished, story. I wanted to see whether three hundred words could hold what seem to be recurring motifs in my writing — chances lost, roads not taken, love unreciprocated, self-consciousness, shame, and a debilitating fear of rejection. The expression “glimmering girl”  comes from “The Song of Wandering Aengus” by W.B. Yeats. “Walter, Walter” is a song made popular by the English singer and comedienne Gracie Fields.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Leicester, England, Clive Collins has spent the greater part of his life working as a teacher in Ireland, Sierra Leone, and now Japan. He is the author of two novels, The Foreign Husband (Marion Boyars) and Sachiko’s Wedding(Marion Boyars/Penguin Books).Misunderstandings, a collection of short stories, was joint-winner of the Macmillan Silver PEN Award in 1994. More recently his work has appeared online and in print in magazines such as Penny, Local Nomad, The Story Shack, and terrain.org. He was a short-listed finalist in the 2009 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.

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If I had been brave
by Ryan Stone

If I had been more,
held your hand
when it mattered

and even
when it didn’t,

what started as a scribble
in my yearbook
may not have ended
with this apology.

Ink lasts longer
than nascent buds,
wilted before their bloom.
Notes we wrote
lend breath
to ghosts,

long after
pens fall still.

In this cold place
I see your face
as it was behind the gym;
where your lips
once tasted

of blackberries
and sunshine.

PHOTO: “Blackberries” by Ryan Stone.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem stayed buried for many years until I arrived in a place that allowed me to look back without shattering into a million tiny pieces.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ryan Stone is a poet incognito from Melbourne, Australia. He writes poetry, short stories, and even shorter bios.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The place of lightness that allows me to look back into the darkness.

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If I had a good luck charm
by Amanda Tanner

If I had a good luck charm,
Could count the cards
And bluff the farm
I would be a dealer’s doom.

If I had that classic beauty
Rocking body
Luscious booty
I could put away my broom.

If I could learn to rock the kitchen
Prepare great meals
Quit my bitchin
I would be the perfect bride.

If I could win the Powerball
Be super rich
And have it all
I would still be by your side.

If I could write a poem for you
To cheer you up
When you are blue
I would write my very best.

No luck, no beauty, no perfect cook
Resting bitch face
Is how I look
Yet I’d say my life is blessed.

IMAGE: “Shamrock Pot V” by Emanuel Tanjala. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem sort of came to me after I purchased a (losing) ticket for the PowerBall drawing. It contains my personal dry humor and wit, as well as truth. (Yes, I am afflicted with RBF!)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Amanda (call her Nanna) Tanner
is a semi-retired educator and lifelong learner. An eternal optimist, Nanna claims there is nothing that she can’t learn. She will tell you she dabbles in the arts and loves creating things. She paints in oils and acrylics, plays guitar, writes poetry, and sings in the car on road trips. Most recently, she has learned to quilt and has made personal creations for eleven relatives.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Taken in 2013, hiding the RBF!

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If I Ever Stop
by Kelley White

If I ever stop loving you,
sing to me
            then

whatever’s broken
will be whole again

if I ever forget
what we meant
to each other

sing that old song
that I might rediscover

that place in my eyes
that you touched
at the start

before you learned
how to dance
on my heart

IMAGE: “Two Hearts in a Forest” by Jim Dine (1981).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This little “song” about a bittersweet relationship showed up on a bittersweet day—hope there is just enough of a little twist at the end. It appeared in Lucid Rhythms in 2011.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural
 New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals, including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

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If I were (to)
by Massimo Soranzio

If I—
If I—
If I were—
If I were to tell—

If I were to tell you all,
All the things I’ve left untold,
Unuttered, unexpressed, in part or wholly
Undisclosed,

If I did, what would you call
Me then: brave, heroic, bold?
Prompted by my sense of guilt, or by folly?
Just exposed,

Like a hermit crab losing its shell,
My tender self would be showing well.

IMAGE: “The Age of Enlightenment” by René  Magritte (1967).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is meant for the persons who are closest to me, who often complain that, even if I am rather talkative and enjoy conversation, I tend not to speak about myself, or what my (pre-)occupations are at the moment.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio writes on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, about 20 miles from Trieste. He teaches English as a foreign language and English literature in a high school, and has been a journalist, a translator, and a freelance lecturer on Modernist literature and literary translation. He took part in the Found Poetry Review‘s National Poetry Month challenges Oulipost (2014) and PoMoSco (2015), and in a virtual tour around the world with an international group of poets on foundpoetryfrontiers.org.

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If I were a woman…
by D.A. Pratt

If I were a woman I wonder how I would feel about everything. I wonder what I would think about everything too — but I really wonder how I would feel about things. Surely life would be, and would have been, very different. Would I have any of my current views and opinions? There are so many questions I could ask myself — many profound but maybe even more would be merely mundane…

When I think about it, I realize that everything really would be different…absolutely everything! I would not have read the same books as I’ve read as a guy…I may not be living anywhere near where I live and have lived throughout my existence as a male…I wouldn’t know the same people that I currently know…I wouldn’t have the same family…wow!

Since I’ve pondered this scenario from time to time over several years, I’m willing to ask myself questions like: “Did I enjoy being a girl?” (like the 1958 Rodgers and Hammerstein song) or “Did I ever get used to being subjected to the male gaze?” (assuming that I would have been — there are no guarantees). Did I enjoy wearing blue jeans as much as I, as a guy, enjoy experiencing women in denim blue? And, just for fun, how would I feel about wearing high heels? On a more serious note, what would be my philosophy of life? Would I have one?

How would I feel about men? About other women? I’ve long thought that if I were a woman that I would have be a lesbian…I wonder if this would have ended up being true…just wondering…if I were a woman…

IMAGE: “Man and Woman in the Window” by Istvan Farkas (1939).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have often pondered the idea that I have presented in this 300-word story, and I’m convinced that this is actually unusual. It all started a long time ago when I read a newspaper column that discussed the idea of being the “other sex” for a day (this was before today’s “gender awareness,” if I may put it this way). It described the results of an exercise that challenged readers to contemplate the matter (and it noted that many males failed the test). When I thought about it I quickly realized that I would not be able to fit everything I would want to experience as a woman into one day (yes, naturally, I thought about “having sex” but I also thought about giving birth). Since then I haven’t stopped contemplating the matter…¶ I have been writing a series of poems, some serious with some superficially silly, all with the title “If I were a woman I wonder …” and this naturally led me to write this story for this particular call for submissions. I have attempted to keep the story lighthearted (knowing that it could be a treacherously tricky topic). On this note, I will say that one of my favourite songs is “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (btw, the Miley Cyrus cover of this song is wonderful) and I would have loved to have mentioned it in the story but I ran out of words! There are times when I feel this is the major difference between guys and girls, especially right now. On the other hand, I’m absolutely aware of the fact that it’s a privilege to be able to be lighthearted on gender-related issues —  I’m absolutely aware that far too many people around the world cannot be this way.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: D.A. (David) Pratt continues to live (as an “older guy”) in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. David sees himself as an outsider within this community and his feelings about this were summed up in his self portrait poem published by Silver Birch Press in 2014.

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If I, Perspective
by Tim Philippart

If I could remember,
the taste of mother’s milk,

the first time
rain misted my face,

the smell of
a baby only three days old,

when I saw my reflection
in my daughter’s eyes,

the first fingers
easing hair from my face.

If I could remember those things,
I would.

But, I’d settle,
to regularly, find my car keys.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: “The Great Joy of a Key in the Hand,” Holland, Michigan (2016).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: How often, in my golden years, I tear around the house looking for my keys only to find them in my pocket, in the car that I forgot to turn off two hours ago, or, even, in my hand.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tim Philippart sold his business, retired to explore, write and discover. He ghost blogs, writes poetry, nonfiction, and an occasional magazine piece. He loves writing and wishes he had not waited decades to pick up the pen. He sees baseball as a metaphor for…. Oh, he’s sorry.

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If I Had…
by Patrick T. Reardon

If I had a Mama who would see me.
If I had a Mama who would hear my aching cry.

If I had a Mama who had a soft touch along the skin of my face.
If I had a Mama who had talk for me and eyes to look in my eyes.

If I had a Mama who would hold me as a heart of her heart, not a carton of shit.
If I had a Mama who would not laugh at me.

IMAGE:  A detail from a Roman sculpture of Tellus Mater, the Roman earth-goddess, found at Wikipedia.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This was written initially in two-beat lines and was about twice as long. I thought it works better with the longer and fewer lines.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon, who wrote “Daily Meditations (with Scripture) for Busy Dads,” is the author of the newly published Faith Stripped to Its Essence: A Discordant Pilgrimage through Shusaku Endo’s Silence.

PHOTO: The author in 2014.

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If I Had Stayed
by Leslie Sittner

If I had idealized life goals like he did, he would have admired me more.
          He said so.
But my life moved along just fine.
If I had worked toward those goals, he would have respected me more.
          He said so.
But my career moved along just fine.
He had big goals and always worked toward them.
          He did so.
While my life moved along just fine.
If I had returned to work soon after our daughter was born, he would have loved me more.
          He said so.
If I changed to please him, we might have stayed together.
          He didn’t say so.
If I had followed his lead, his need
          his method
          his directive
          for a Complete Life Plan
would I have had a successful happy life?
Would I have been satisfied?
          I said no.
If I had done so I would not have found My Muse.
          I found her, my creative muse,
          she encouraged me to follow her
          step back
          allow life to flow around me.
My life moved along beautifully.
If I had stayed, I would not have known contentment.
          I say so.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is one of the many woodland parks where I walk my ancient dog. These two paths run alongside the Kayaderosseras Creek in my village of Ballston Spa, New York. We walk both paths and are always content going in either direction.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This prompt encouraged me to commit to words the almost unconscious choice of how I would lead my life after divorce in 1976. It’s only recently that I realized that by freely accepting both the need for and the influence of creativity, my life has been wonderfully rewarding. I am truly content.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner has been turning to the written word as a form of self-expression and reflection. She began this journey two years ago and is just finding her voice in different formats. Two of her stories are now available in print in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press, and on-line prose at 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, and 50 Word Stories. A variety of other prose and poetry can also be seen on-line at Silver Birch Press. She is finishing a book about travels with her ex-husband and hopes a publisher will find it as humorous as she and her writer-friends do.