Archives for category: Me as a Child

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Last Goodbye
by Oonah V Joslin

That’s me aged five
hanging in shadow by the door
barefoot. The linoleum is January cold;
the kitchen light stark yellow.

It’s still dark.
Mammy clashes dishes in the sink.

Are you really not going to give us a kiss?
He tries. She turns away. He misses.
I have to go to work, you know. I’ll
see you on Friday then.

He shoulders his rucksack
opens the door, looks back,
sees me and smiles. A wee wave
from the threshold.

How long have you been standin’ there? she says.
When it’s time to get up I’ll tell you.
She aims a bussock at my behind
and I run back upstairs.

And that’s me in shadow;
eclipsed forever in goodbye.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at age three in her father’s sash.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Oonah V Joslin was born in Northern Ireland. She is a poet and writer of short and micro fiction. She is three times winner of MicroHorror’s annual competition and has work in many online sites and anthologies. You may follow her and her work at Parallel OonahverseFormerly Managing Editor of Every Day Poets, Oonah is currently Poetry Editor at The Linnet’s Wings.

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Three More Bags
by Ashley Parker Owens

I am sick
of garden work.

Picking/dropping beans
into gaping plastic bags,
dreading the snap/string

I am not allowed
to talk.

Scratchy hat,
sweat dripping like hot tears,
hands dry from dust.

The heat has leeched my energy
I drift a row away from my stepfather

No complaining.
Earn my keep.

Three more bags of beans
and I’ll be worth the food on my plate.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author as a young girl.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ashley Parker Owens
lives in the hills of Kentucky, where the gnomes are. She has lived in San Francisco in an ashram, and in Chicago where she helped with the Second Underground Press Conference and was the creator and editor of Global Mail. After the successful publication of Gnome Harvest by Double Dragon Publishing, Ashley is writing the next novels in the Gnome Stories Series. She has a MFA in Creative Writing at Eastern Kentucky University and an MFA from Rutgers University in Visual Arts. Ashley is the owner of the indie press KY Story, proud publisher of 15 anthologies celebrating the Kentucky, Appalachian, and Southern voice. Her work has recently appeared in Hogglepot, Rose Red, Egg Poetry, Boston Poetry Magazine, Quail Bell, Imaginarium, Tinderbox Magazine, The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society, Lorelei Signal, and Mystic Signals. Reach her at kystory.net.

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Nightmare
by Kieran McKiel

when I was 6
my bedroom would talk to me at night
it whispered through coat hangers crinkling in the closet like coins in a   dentist’s pocket
fat mosquitos buzzing over lost pink boys in the woods
a viper-haired gorgon would dance outside my window
squalling teary-eyed through the glass
my covers could shield me but couldn’t quiet them

one night
the closet kept quiet but it was jump scare quiet
the quiet where slugs slither down the walls and onto the covers
where a sneering toy dragon pivots its head to watch the bed
where pulsing dark jellyfish hover over the pillow with tendrils dangling
into my eyes and
          they      speak
                              sandpaper shouts
          they      stampede through the house
pounding walls drumming doors
          they      glare
                              pale pale eyes glass eyes
bore each other to protoplasm
          they      accuse
                    “you’ll break it again”
                    in the hall outside my room and then
Mom holds me in a vise grip hug
Dad is in my room, pulling the closet shut
I listen for their voices
but they talk to each other with marble statue frowns

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at age seven.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kieran McKiel is fiction writer and poet from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. He is currently in his third year at the University of Victoria. Much of his childhood was spent reading H.G. Wells, watching National Geographic, and hoping desperately that someone would unearth the fossils that proved Godzilla was a real dinosaur.

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Earliest Memory
by Dennis Trujillo

I’m crawling in a wondrous cave.
Silver chair legs astound me
like stalactites. Yellow veneer
from upholstered chairs tinge
the ceiling where I dwell
innocent as a tiny god.
My mother, a humming presence
at the stove, sends up ancient
aromas. Cold surprise of metal
each time I touch the safety pins
that attach my stiff diaper.
I’m the baby. Little brother Steve,
who dies early, isn’t born yet.
On the sticky linoleum,
I spot a mushy bean—my infantine
brain says food, so in it goes.
Now in my sixtieth year, I find
it strange that beans have always been
my favorite food and that among
five sons, I’m still the baby.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: Here I am at three months anxious to begin exploring caves. I don’t know why the memory in this poem stayed with me, but it is clear in my mind as if it happened yesterday.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dennis Trujillo is a former soldier and middle/high school math teacher who happens to love poetry. Most recent selections are forthcoming or already published with Atlanta Review, Pearl, Slant, THEMA, The Lyric, Talking River, and The Old Red Kimono. He runs and then does yoga every morning to clear his head for reading and writing poetry.

Robbi at 3, 1956, with mom and dad
Musical Chairs
by Robbi Nester

seemed such an innocent game
to everyone but me, though I was six
and should have loved the feel
of moving quickly round the chairs,
stiff rustling party skirts and petticoats
in every color above black patent shoes.

The 45 spun round and round
and we did too, skipping
and singing, pretending
not to care. But soon,
my breath came fast,
heart banging in my chest
as if it wanted out.
I eyed the others,
set to leap
before the jangling music
stopped mid-chord
and knew I’d be the one
left out, too small and slow.

Maybe that’s why
I bit the birthday girl,
making a deep red crescent
in her arm, surprising everyone,
especially myself.
The music stopped, for good
this time, and I went home
without my cake and ice cream.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at age three with her parents.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the author of Balance (White Violet, 2012) and A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014) and the editor of The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014).

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The Red Slide
by Sarah Lilius

The metal mountain stood apart
from the other equipment like a god.

It was the 80s and the slide,
fire engine red with a silver mirror front
terrified me in the heat of summer.

Taller than my father, I saw the top
in the clouds made of elephants and rabbits.

If I wore a skirt that day, slid wrong,
it would burn like childhood in hindsight.

The slide would haunt me
like finding new love—

that first hand hold, a small grip similar
to my father’s as we walked back home.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author’s school picture from first grade, around age seven.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There was a park close to my house where I grew up in Illinois. My father would take me frequently there. The big red slide feels like a huge part of my childhood and the memory has become part of me. I think of it often since the passing of my father. I was happy when this bittersweet memory finally became manifested as a poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Lilius lives in Arlington, Virginia, where she’s a poet and an assistant editor for ELJ Publications. Some places her work can be found are Stirring, the Denver Quarterly, and San Pedro River Review. She is also the author of What Becomes Within (ELJ Publications, 2014). Check out her website at sarahlilius.com.

SAARI
Christmas 1943
by Christine Saari

“Wake up”! My mother’s voice comes from afar
as I emerge from a deep sleep.
My father stands by my bedside, wearing his uniform.
“I knew he would come,” I say to my mother,
full of reproach. She had refused to believe.
I recite Orion’s poem,
the poem I have learned by heart for him
and go back to sleep.

When the Christ Child rings the bell on Christmas Eve
my happiness is complete:
The candles glow brighter than the year before,
The cookies taste sweeter. My father is home!

It snows on Christmas morning.
Soft flakes settle on my father’s cap and whiten my hair
as we say good bye.
Then he vanishes in the vast whiteness
and I will never see him again.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author and her father during WWII.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The loss of my father on the Eastern Front of WWII has haunted me all my life. I have tried to deal with this loss through writing poetry and a memoir and making visual art. This poem is one of these efforts, the second image above another.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christne Saari grew up on a mountain farm in the foothills of the Austrian Alps. She came to the United States in 1964 and has lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan since 1971, where she works as a visual artist and writer.

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On Learning There Is Such a Thing as Failure
by Maryanne Hannan

Everything makes more sense
why grownups bristle
how shadows have heft
why rivers hide their bottoms
how baptisms and birthday parties count

why my mother likes sad movies
why my uncle stays in his bedroom
why my grandfather leaves the table early
and my grandmother buys me fancy dresses

On learning there is such a thing as failure
I hear words in the voices around me
dismantle my private kingdom
I learn how not to breathe
and prepare to succeed

SOURCE: “On Learning There Is Such a Thing as Failure” first appeared in upstreet (2005).

PHOTOGRAPH: Schroon Lake, New York, Labor Day 1951 (at 3 3/4 years of age).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Ah, if everyone was as sensitive as you! There’s no girl who hasn’t gone through that. And it’s all so unimportant!” ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina. But sometimes it is important, and many years are lost dreading the river’s bottom. This poem looks back at only the river’s flow.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maryanne Hannan has published poetry widely, including Rattle, Minnesota Review, Poet Lore and several anthologies. A former Latin teacher, she lives in upstate New York. Visit her at www.mhannan.com.

Vickionthebeachincornwall
No I can’t hear you
by Vicki Morley

Mummy dear, asking me
to babysit my cousin
on the beach in his
rubber ring, an old inner-tube.

I can’t take off my hat and change.
Captain Webb is calling me back
to the sea. I’ve got his swimsuit on.

The ocean is roaring in my ears,
seaweeds tickle my legs.
I float in the brine,
salt crusts my shoulders.
I aim to be a mermaid
I’ve blue toes and fingertips
like pickled walnuts.

Distant chimes of an ice cream van
puncture the choppy water,
spraying salt in my mouth.
I remember the taste of raspberry ripple.
I wade to the beach
lured by the hook,
line
and
sinker
of greed.

PHOTOGRAPH:  The author at Maenporth Beach, Falmouth, UK, August 1957, age 10.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vicki Morley, a strange hybrid, having worked in intelligence at GCHQ at Cheltenham and been headteacher of two comprehensives, took early retirement. Some of her short stories she’s read at Falmouth’s Telltales, a local writers’ group. This was a useful antidote to removing slugs from vegetable beds. Then she moved to the town of Penzance, which is relatively slug free, and she writes poems. In 2014, she read a selection at Penzance’s Golowan Festival and The Literary Festival. Her ambition is to keep the local independent bookshop open, and she is currently buying from their poetry selection.

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Solo for a princess
by A. Garnett Weiss

When I was small
I’d slip into my mother’s deep closet
Inspect the high shelves, the bold, bare bulb, her
clothes hanging from wooden bars (unpainted)

             Everyday dresses in printed cotton
             Silk shirtwaists in the colours of prairie grasses
             Skirts sensibly below the knee

             Evening gowns in black, green, gentle lilac
             My favourite: her navy piqué
             Bare-backed, she looked movie-star
             Beautiful to me on summer nights

             A ruffled ottoman held
             her cache of party shoes
             I’d try on every pair
             Felt like Cinderella before midnight
             in highheels with crisscrossing
             straps of supple silver

I liked to watch her dress and dab perfume
in the crook of her elbows, behind her ears

She’d slide her long legs into silky stockings and
her feet into satin pumps that matched her gown
Put lipstick, a comb, some change in
a jeweled, velvet bag
Take my father’s arm
Blow me a kiss ‘goodnight’

and close the door
as I stood there, waving

I broke the mirror in that closet when I was six
I’d seen Snow White, the mirror on the wall
Believed my friend Dotty that
I’d have bad luck for seven years

Thought my thirteen year-old’s pimply skin
the legacy of those cruel shards

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at age two with her mother.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem, which had an early incarnation as JC Sulzenko’s, “Fairy Tales,” addresses the relationship between me as an only child and my Viennese mother who was often compared to Hedy Lamarr, though she was even more striking as a young woman than that film star of the 1930s-on. It explores admiration, longing, and my self-image as a child.           

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poems by JC Sulzenko, now writing poetry as A. Garnett Weiss, have been featured on local and national radio and television, on-line and in anthologies and chapbooks. Her centos have won a number of awards. She has appeared often on behalf of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, which launched What My Grandma Means to Say, her play and her book about Alzheimer’s disease. Dear Tomato, a just published poetry anthology for children about food, features JC’s “In My Garden.”