Archives for category: Me as a Child

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Ignis Fatuus
by Paul m. Strohm

The school bus driver is not a fool,
he knows me like one of his own kids.
I don’t really want to go home, I say
“Thank you,” my exit having slowed.
Stepping down onto the sidewalk,
I begin to search out the safest path.
The lady next door shouts a warning,
her red cross armband in plain view.
A squad of sparrows twit out an SOS,
as I begin to come under enemy fire.
“Stop dawdling,” explodes very close,
another barrage follows, “Hurry up!”
My school bags have caught on fire,
burning homework ash floats away.
“Clumsy child,” knocks me down,
Everywhere the sound of battle rages,
smoke clouds encircle all combatants.
Barely conscious I am stretched away.
My burns will heal, but not the scars,
childhood’s ignis fatuus is not forgotten.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Out of the Darkness” by Betty LaRue. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul m. Strohm is a freelance journalist working in Houston, Texas. His poems have appeared in HuKmag.com, the Berkeley Poets Cooperative, The Lake, WiND, and other literary outlets. His first collection of poems entitled Closed On Sunday was published 2014 by the Wellhead Press. He worked at the Humanities Research Center at UT-Austin cataloging the correspondence of D.H. Lawrence. If he had to count the number of times D. H. wrote that imaginative line, “ Dear ____. How are you?” he would never read Lady Chatterley’s Lover again.

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You and Me Then
by Anna Ziegler

My steps home in the morning
are heel then toe on one runner,
heel then toe on the other;
fast but careful on the frost.
I worry does the sidewalk mind
how the grass grows over its edges,
grass with crowns of frozen dew;
dew, what is dew. Oh, Anna,
why didn’t you tell?

Me, as a child, knew. What
did I know; heel then toe. Dew,
what is dew; what was me,
what was you.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at age six or seven in Calgary, Alberta, Canada (1985).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anna Ziegler lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut, just below the Arctic Circle, where she has a communications consulting firm and a little A-frame house surrounded by tundra grasses and, most of the year, snow. Anna has an MA in English Literature from the University of Alberta and a mottled but rich collection of life experiences. She has co-authored two children’s books and a nonfiction book about edible and medicinal Arctic plants. When she thinks of herself as a child, she remembers being smarter than she is now, understanding more about the dew on the grass, beauty, and purpose. She also laments a terrifying experience that floods the spaces between all the others. This poem is about how, for survivors, “me, as a child,” if left unvoiced, is defined by such experiences and the unspoken rules within the family for interpreting them. In the second stanza, the adult narrator holds her child self and asserts the possibility of new definitions.

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Pandora’s Box
by Jennifer Fliss

It remains inside you. You are hollow and it makes your jaw ache
And you don’t say it out loud
and you lie when they ask
and you make it seem like everything is
okay
and that the officer is crazy that he is even asking

And every night you get nervous that you’ll hear the buzzer
and you were just getting to sleep.
And you hear them in the hallway
and then they come to your room
and when they turn the lights on you rub your eyes and say “huh”
but you know why they are there
and you act surprised
and lie some more

And the next night it comes back at you
and you are just tired and he is getting really loud.
So you run into their room and jump on the bed
and you yell back
And he says where are you getting this from and who have you been talking to?

And you say no one.
You’re wrong you’re wrong you’re wrong.
And you scream until your voice is weak and choppy
and your tears and your snot are mixing together
and you wipe it on your arm

And she says nothing but she’s crying too.

Another night he comes to say goodnight only it’s not a good night at all.
And he won’t leave
and you take a shower with the water so hot it feels cold
and you change your sheets and you try to sleep

But you don’t sleep
and you are tired the next morning
and your eyes are puffy so you are late to school

In class when someone comes to the door sometimes
it is for you because
your little sister has said something peculiar.
You say she’s just a kid
and she doesn’t know what she is talking about
and this is from falling
and I accidentally kicked her
and it’s not true
and they don’t believe you but they send you back anyway.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author as a girl.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The reason I began writing in the first place was to get my emotions and residual stress from my experiences out of me and put them somewhere else; take the onus off of me. Initially it wasn’t intended to greet the world. I never thought, back then, that I would be putting those paper emotions into the world. This will be the piece I have out there about my childhood experiences. I hope that someone reads it and thinks “Yes. Yes, I can totally relate.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Fliss is a New York raised, Wisconsin and California schooled, Seattle based writer. She holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and a certificate in Literary Fiction from the University of Washington. Her writing can be found online and in print with publications and websites such as Brain Child, Stratus, Prime Number, Blotterature, Foliate Oak, Praxis, The Belltown Messenger, Daily Mom, Behind the Book, BookerMarks, and The Well Read Fish. Visit her at  www.jenniferflisscreative.com.

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The letter I never wrote
by Renee Bartovics

Dear some one, May 12, 1955
I hope some one finds this letter.
If you did — can you help me pleese?
It is afuly lonly and I guess
I’m scared and always sad even when
I preten I’m not.
I think there is some one
under my bed. I did reech down one time
and there was a hand I was tuching.
It was night and no one was there
but the servents in their rooms.
I do not know where Mommy and Daddy
were but at night they drink and fight any way.
They act like we are not here at all.
But I am.

I am ten years old. I am a girl.
I love cats and my dolls and singing
and playing ping-pong after dinner
with Mommy befor she has to go inside
to brush her teeth.
I really like out side.
the woods, the feeld, the apple trees.
Inside is not that great.
School is hard and lonly,
I got kept back cuse the work is to hard
and the kids in my class look at me funny.
I like the long bus ride home cuse
we sing and lauf and it feels like I
have frends but then its over and I
have to walk up the long drive way
and my brother and sister teese me.
They run a head of me.
But I get to be with the cats.

Do all Mommies and Daddies sleep in the day
and drink all kinds of fancy drinks and beer
befor dinner when we finly get to see them
and then dinner is quite exept for when Daddy yells
about Mommys drinking, drunk again Sophie, he says.
I have to sit by Mommy and some times she falls a sleep
at the table and Daddy gets mad again. We go places
some times and that is fun, like the beech and the races
but there are always the drinks and
I don’t like that part.

One time when I went to a frends house over night
I was awake and I could fly around the room!
It was really, really fun! I really did fly!
But I did not tell any one.
I want to do it again.
Reelly soon.
I want to go some place where there are no
drinks and drunk people, but cats and my own dog
and lots of out side and music and singing
and a ping-pong table and people and kids
to play ping-pong with who do not go away.

If you find this note, can you help me pleese?
Come to my house and find me,
I do not like this kind of family.
It makes me sad and lonly and I cry a lot.
Come to the kichen door after I get home from school. (not the big white door.)

Here is my adress.
4001 Montchanin Road, Wilmington Delaware or you could
come down Twadell Mill Road to the very end.
Its the big stone house on the hill
with a big feeld and stone walls on both sides of the drive way.
There are cats out side on the drive way so go slow.
They are my frends and I love them.

I have to go to the dentist now,
Come soon.
Renee Sharpless
( I am called Nee Nee here. there is a line above the secon e in my name (it is a french name) but the tipe writer cant type it.)

PHOTOGRAPH: The author as a young girl.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem five years ago as part of a series of poems and short memoir pieces. The intent was to give voice to some of the circumstances of my childhood for healing. I find it a very helpful process — and am now working on a novel of autobiographical fiction. This poem was written with misspellings to reflect my poor spelling as a child.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Renee Bartovics really loves to write and make things like art and really loves cats and dogs and all animals and being outdoors in nature and her grandchildren. She is 70 years old but still acts like a child, a lot! She got a whole lot better at school things with college and graduat school and worked helping people and familes feel better. The things she writes help her feel better too. She still gets lonely sometimes and wishes she could act more like a grown up but is really really glad she does not act like her mommy and daddy. She would really really like to make a book of her poems and even maybe write a long story, kind of her story and some of it made up.

Brenda Toddler
To Eat The Sun
by Brenda Hines

I was a child who wanted to eat the sun – tried to touch it, pluck it,
cried like a rhakshasa when I couldn’t reach. A globe, plump gold,
my baby self sought to bite with tiny teeth; lick with esurient tongue.

As a toddler, I tamed my hunger, awaiting mealtimes with seeming
patience, but secretly nibbling orchids; sucking the ovoid teats of lilies;
chewing on the chocolate petals of the calico flower, flake-like, at our      door.

At six, still not accepting I could not consume the world, we moved,
to the land of buick-size burgers and milkshakes thick as desire.
I gloated, greed-eyed, swallowing down chow the size of pudgy fists,

furtively licking perfume swabs in silken magazines. I forgot the saffron
of shrikhand, its sweet and subtle nuance. Instead, I scoffed ice cream      in shades
of atomic; sucked at my spoon; hoped that the moon really was made of      cheese.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem to try and communicate the desire to eat and taste that I often felt as a child. I wanted to play with imagery of sun and moon, and I do remember thinking all of the thoughts within the poem, as well as committing all of the actions. Yes, I ate flowers, and licked at magazines . . . I feel I had a curious tongue, rather than an empty stomach, however. These days, I enjoy putting new words into my mouth, and describing thought and action with vocabulary that is, perhaps, a little more distant, a little more like the sun and moon, which I was always trying to reach for, back then. I wanted to be a chef, or a space traveller, when I was a child! This, too, explains the mix of imagery, while my Indian origins are responsible for rhakshasa (a type of female demon) and shrikhand (a sweet dessert I remember eating).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Brenda Hines was born in India, raised in the U.S., and married in the U.K. She lives in Crowthorne,U.K., where she works as a psychologist. Her poetry is next due to appear in Wherever You Roam, an anthology published by Pankhearst as part of their Slim Volume series. She has two children.

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The core
by Lee Nash

It’s in every
photograph.
Symbolically,
the apple core
had more appeal
than a horse
or a heart,
I’d say because
it reminded me
of the stars
that were taken away
while I was not looking,
my unseen pointers,
those five signs
lost, fast eaten up.
Yet vertically intact
the feminine form
retained its seeds —
better this way round,
though it required
patience.
There was time.
Those childhood
summers were too long
anyway, meant
dreaming of the day
I would hold
me whole
and bring home
white blossom
was all there was.

© Lee Nash 2015. All rights reserved.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: London,1973 (age six). We are just about to leave for South Africa, where I lived until 1984.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Nash was born in England and grew up in South Africa. She now lives and works in the beautiful Charente department in France. She freelances as a book designer and editor for a UK publishing house, and is raising her two children. Lee is also a flutist, with an honors degree in music from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK. She is previously published by The French Literary Review, Subprimal Poetry Art Ezine, and Bluethumbnail, and more of her poems are soon to appear in Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Dawntreader, and The Lake. She was a Biscuit Poetry and Fiction prizewinner (2003) and a runner-up in various other competitions. Visit her at leenashpoetry.com.

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Sacred Lifegiver
by Emily Jane Henry
Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw

As a child, I looked in the mirror and reflected back to me was the lingering pain of the past generations since first European contact. I saw the racist historical laws that created the injustices that led to 1200 Indigenous women to be murdered and missing without inquiry.

Yet, within my eyes, I also saw a flame that no human or unjust law could ever distinguish. I seen my pure spirit reflected back at me. Over the years, healing inspired the fire within me began to burn brighter. And, one day, I looked in the mirror and I understood that I stand in the footsteps of my Ancestors. I understood that I am the living manifestation of my Ancestor’s prayers.

Now I look in the mirror and I see hope for the next seven generations. I see a Shining Light. I see love of culture. I see love of traditions. I see a beautiful Lifegiver. I see a strong matriarch. And, I see a beautiful woman worthy of respect.

PHOTOGRAPH: Emily Jane Henry at age 11 in her traditional regalia during pow-wow season. The picture was taken in the Fort Qu’Appelle Valley in Saskatchewan, Canada, during the summer of 1971.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem “Sacred Lifegiver” is inspired by my experiences as a child growing up on the reserve in Canada and witnessing intergenerational impacts that resulted from damaging historical laws found in the Indian Act. One major impact is that Indigenous women’s traditional roles were degraded over time — so much so that in the present day, many have vanished or have been killed and it still has yet to be fully addressed. This poem represents my hope for the next seven generations and how woman will once again reclaim her respected traditional roles. Kinanâskomitin (thank you), Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw (Seven Sacred Fires Woman, my Spirit name).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emily Henry is a Cree First Nation Woman from Ochapowace reserve in Canada. She has authored several manuals used for intervention of Aboriginal offenders in federal custody in Canada. Visit her at Facebook.com.

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School’s Out
by Deborah Guzzi

Trying to recapture the joy of those winter days is difficult. School cancelled: sun shining through the sheer, white curtains into an all-too-girlie room, the sound of a teakettle’s whistle, the ice cold feeling of oak boards on bare feet, between scatter rugs; I ran to the kitchen. The transistor radio sounded, still calling out school closings. The snow sifted down.

bright sun
sparkles on snowflakes —
the plow roars

Quick phone calls, punctuated with giggles, roused a gaggle of neighborhood girls. White skates in hand, I burst out the door. I rushed toward the swampy area behind the neighbor’s house. My rubber boots crunching crust above the powdery fluff. At the edge of the watery wood, I stood staring. Boys, I see the boys in there. They have their skates on already. Tommy Maloney, my crush, skated toward me.

his black waves
dusted with snow —
whoops of delight

A hummock of snow-topped grass served as a seat. I removed my boots from beneath the zip sides of snow pants and try to tie laces new white skates. Once done I stood wobbling, weak-ankled. Tommy laughs, as knock-kneed I attempt a glide toward him falling on my butt. Oh how his eyes sparkled, an Irish rogue at twelve. Kneeling, Tommy began to re-lace my skates. I remember wishing, so much, he would kiss me.

SOURCE: First Published in Winter Legends 2014

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at age three in Camden, Maine.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Guzzi is a healing facilitator specializing in Japanese Shiatsu and Reiki. She writes for massage and aromatherapy magazines. She travels the world to expand her knowledge of healing and seeking writing inspiration. She has walked the Great Wall of China, seen Nepal (during the civil war), Japan, Egypt (two weeks before “The Arab Spring”), Peru, and France during the December 2014 terrorist attacks. Her poetry appears in a variety of international publications: here/there: poetry in the UK, Existere — Journal of Arts and Literature in Canada, Tincture in Australia, Cha:Asian Literary Review, China, New Zealand, Vine Leaves Literary Journal in Greece, mgv2>publishing in France, and Travel by the Book, Ribbons: Tanka Society of America Journal, Emerge Literary Journal, and others in the USA.

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An inseparable friend
by Vijaya Gowrisankar

My childhood memories are laced with
Maths moments, my love for the subject,
passion for it, one-sided private talks

I shared all my feelings with Maths – sorrow,
happiness, doubts, fears, heart aches, conclusions,
all in return for a non-judgmental listening ear

After a tired day Maths consoled me,
cracking a difficult problem in a jiffy
boosted my self-confidence and left a smile

Maths defined me, my friendships with others,
I helped them understand nuances of problem-solving,
love echoed in my voice as I explained solutions

It was my anchor, my identity, it remains
so with all my friends — they remember
me even today, as the girl who loved Maths

Every spare moment was spent with Maths,
from morning to night, seeking solace
in solutions, it remained my strength through
growing up years, my closest companion

Image (detail) by Design Turnpike. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was a shy child when I realized my passion for Maths. Maths, for me, was my outlet, an inseparable friend, my mirror. It gave me my identity, as friends always approached me with their Maths doubts.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vijaya Gowrisankar released her first book of poems Inspire in 2014. The book contains 100+ poems on topics such as Nature, Life, Let Go, Positivity, and Change. She is passionate about writing poems from childhood.

9. Battswood College, Wynberg
First day at school
by Julian de Wette

I fear the ruler and the blackboard and the cane . . . Ciarán Carson

Tables weren’t meant to be sat at
but things to be said out aloud.
My proficiency on the first day
would set me apart from the crowd.

Why did I deserve punishment
for raising my cap to an elderly gent?
Why did the strap make me cry?
Why did it hurt so much I could die?

I’m confused by what is custom,
what’s done for politeness’ sake.
Such confusion is regarded as error
and all that follows in its wake.

Where were the games I was promised?
The see-saw and the swings?
The sandpit to build castles,
the song of Grasshopper Green?

The flowers I picked that morning
wouldn’t calm my teacher’s rage.
Nor would the words impress her
I’d written on a page.

“There is no secret to it, boy.
It amounts to insurrection
when snot fouls your hanky
before handkerchief inspection!

“And should you scuff your shoes
or scrape your knees
you’d also stand to lose
that gold star for appearance.

“So remember, your conduct in this quad
should honour our principal and God.
This is education – reciting verse and solving equations
as you rise up through the ranks.
And never forget to give thanks . . .”

Battswood Practising School, Wynberg 1958.

PHOTOGRAPH: Battswood Practicing School, Wynberg, South Africa.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written some years ago after a chance meeting with my very first school teacher – who changed my enthusiastic attitude towards learning on the very first day of my arrival at school. I wrote it without rancour, but retain a longing for the many interesting things I may have learned had things turned out differently on that day.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Julian de Wette
, a U.S. citizen, was born in Cape Town, South Africa. He is the author of a novel, A Case of Knives published by Umuzi, an imprint of Penguin Random House, South Africa (2010). His play, Sister Priscilla’s Dilemma: Nun with a Gun was published in English and Spanish by Proyecto 34 Degrees South (Theatre in Translation) in Buenos Aires, Argentina (2012). Over the years, he has published poetry in literary journals such a Poetry Australia, New Coin (South America), The Observer (New York) and Contrast (South America). His poetry has also appeared in numerous anthologies. He is now resident in Napier, at the Foot of Africa.