Archives for posts with tag: childhood

At Six
by Gail Sosinsky

Still the possessor
of two malicious tonsils,
I’d coughed awake,
stumbled to the bathroom,
desperate to clear
my snuffly head.
Returning through the kitchen,
Dad pulled out the hard-backed chair,
closed the enameled lid
on the old gas stove,
centered the hand towel
over the warm pilot light.
I collapsed against the rungs,
mouth breathing already,
when he brought out the Vick’s,
slathered my chest, shoulders, neck
and fitted the warm towel
against my congestion.
As the vapors wormed
their way through the mucus,
he rubbed my shoulders.
“Yeah, feels like hell,” he said,
without drama or lamentation,
standing at my back
until I could breathe,
the first time
among many.

IMAGE: Vintage ad for Vicks Vaporub.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was surprised by how hard it was to come up with a good memory when I first looked at the call for poems in the ONE GOOD MEMORY Series. Then I was surprised by how many good memories there were. It was a relief not to write from the anger, sorrow, and fear that seem to overwhelm me some days. Thank you for the reminder, and the permission, to look for and celebrate the good. I had a hard time deciding which of my memories to submit, but more than anyone else, my father always asked what I had written lately. Whether you use this poem or not, I thank you for prompting me to capture this memory of my dad.

Sosinsky Wickman1

AB0UT THE AUTHOR: Mild-mannered office worker by day, dedicated writer on her own time, Gail Sosinsky grew up in a northern Wisconsin paper-mill town, which gives her a deep appreciation for nature and quirky characters. She’s held a variety of jobs, including teacher, copy editor, and polka band guitarist. She writes fiction, poetry, and the occasional play and song. Her work tends toward science fiction and fantasy, a side effect of the stacks of books she read as a kid. She has been published in Star*line, Eye to the Telescope, Mindfilights, Pure Slush, America West Airlines Magazine, and Sword and Sorceress XVI, among other venues. She lives with her aged, sweet-tempered mother and her less-predictably sweet-tempered cat, Nefertari.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Sosinsky Road is named for the farm where my dad grew up. It’s a short little two-lane on a ridge between Hillsboro and Wonewoc in southwestern Wisconsin. I still have relatives living there.

by j.lewis

the bricks along the flower bed
still want straightening
a daily reminder
they should have been set deeper
or in cement

the grass pretends
that bare spots
are beauty marks
and goes about being greenest
under a flowering crabapple tree

the hollyhocks
once purposeful and confined
have jumped the bricks
and stubbornly refuse
to be restrained

sweet peas wave their frail pastels
in a shy hooray, hurrah
just enough of them
to bouquet our sunday table

chrysanthemums have been replaced
by yellow crook-neck squash
more plant than produce
spreading leaves large and proud
against the dull gray cinder blocks
that keep them from our neighbor

the backyard of my childhood
slips into my mind
in quiet times
when i need the innocent laughter
of running barefoot ’round the tree
while mother hung out clothes

Photo by Carly Mackler on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Like many aging people, I find that childhood memories have become more intense and more important with each passing year.

Jim Lewis

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: j.lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, nurse practitioner, and Editor of Verse-Virtual, an online journal and community. When he is not otherwise occupied, he is often on a kayak, exploring and photographing the waterways near his home in California. He is the author of four full-length collections and several chapbooks. More information is available at

andrew kazmierski
At 10
by Steve Deutsch

it’s very clear

and very cold
my mind makes room

for recollection.

hidden for fifty
years crisp

as that first step
on snow

by an unearthly freeze.

I’m ten
and my dad and I

have stepped into
the silence

of an iced-in

The sycamore limbs

in sheathes of clear

Just for today
I am

the only son
and even

that first stab
of arctic air

is reason
to rejoice.

First published by Hamilton Stone Review.

PHOTO: Ice-covered sycamore tree branches in Bryant Park with the Empire State Building in the background, New York City. Photo by Andrew Kazmierski.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I remember walking out of the tenement hallway with my dad so clearly. He is proud of me and that makes has made me very happy. It’s a very visible image—which is unusual for me.

steve deutsch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Deutsch has been widely published. He is poetry editor of Centered Magazine. Steve was nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. His chapbook, Perhaps You Can, was published in 2019 by Kelsay Press. His full-length books,  Persistence of Memory and Going, Going, Gone, were published by Kelsay Press. Find more of his work at

steven cukrov
Playing Monopoly
by Arlene Geller

We were not a religious family
but when it came to playing Monopoly,
my sister and I were downright devout.

We played for hours,
adding candy pieces when we ran
out of hotels. And, when we pushed
our bedtimes to the limit,

we’d carefully slide the game board
under the stately legs of the round, walnut table.
A few quick throws of the dice, a running tally,
the first one of us awake would keep the game going.

The table was a protective canopy,
guarding our game and our connection,
a safe harbor in the stormy seas of childhood.

PHOTO: Monopoly Board Game by Steven Cukrov.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Before I close my eyes to sleep, I sometimes set my intentions, such as if I need a poem title or if I want several images to gel into a poem. Often, the next day, I can gratefully accomplish what had been eluding me.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poet/lyricist Arlene Geller has been fascinated with words from a young age and is passionate about writing. Her poetry has been published in newspapers, magazines, and journals, including Better Than Starbucks, Tiferet Journal, The Penwood Review, The Jewish Writing Project, and White Enso. Her first chapbook, Hear Her Voice, will be published by Kelsay Books in 2023. Collaborations with composers include commissioned pieces, such as Voices Unfolding, selected as the class anthem for a commencement at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey; Elusive Peace, which premiered as part of Service of Lessons and Carols at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York; and River Song, featured in the world premiere of I Rise: Women in Song at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and performed in numerous national and international locations. Learn more about her work at

vika 200581
No assembly required
by Sue Mayfield Geiger

We were two young girls and best friends
who found delicious entertainment back in the 1950s.

Our small 2-bedroom, one bathroom tract houses
were identical, back-to-back.

We rose most summer mornings at the crack of dawn.
Not to play hide and seek, or dress-up.

Or go roller skating, bike riding or chalk out
Hopscotch on the sidewalk.

Or fish for crawdads in a rain-filled ditch
Or jump rope or go berry picking.

None of that.

We would hide in back of bushes and patiently
wait for the big trucks.

The ones loaded with refrigerators, washing machines;
any heavy appliance would do.

Eventually one would arrive.

The driver and his helper would unlatch their
load and pull apart the stiff cardboard encasings.

Then load the appliance on a dolly into
a nearby house.

Then we’d burst out of our hiding places
and grab the enormous flat pieces of cardboard

and take off

to our secret place several blocks away near the
railroad tracks.

Put our bodies on our new slick sleds
and race down the hill.

Over, over, and over, giggling all the way.
It was the best fun we ever had.

Best of all, we outsmarted the boys who slept late.
Leaving them the remnants that we left behind.

All ripped, torn, and useless.

PHOTO: Girl with cardboard sled by Vika200581.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In today’s modern society, most deliveries come from Amazon or arrive by an installer, especially for large items. I doubt that cardboard is still used to cover appliances since decades have passed and no doubt, they are wrapped in plastic and handled with the most of care. But for those of us of a certain age, we were always on the lookout for that large piece of cardboard that would feed our youthful imaginations. Aside for becoming a sled, it made a fine fort, a house, a cave, and a nifty place for a game of hide-and-go-seek.

PHOTO: The author (left) and her friend Sandy as children.

75th Sandy Susie

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sue Mayfield Geiger is a freelance magazine writer living on the Texas Gulf Coast. When not writing about home décor, fashion, or a new restaurant opening, she reads and writes poetry. Literary publications include: Grayson Books, RiverLit, Dos Gatos Press, The Binnacle (U of Maine), Of Burgers and Barrooms (Main Street Rag), Red Wolf Journal, Waco WordFest Anthology, Perfume River Poetry, THEMA, Silver Birch Press, Odes and Elegies: Eco poetry from the Gulf Coast, and others.

PHOTO: The author (right) and her friend Sandy at age 75.

tatyana tomsickova photo
A Moment
by Deborah Pope

My sons, four and seven, in yellow slickers,
were coming down the long, gravel drive
in the rain, carrying the morning paper.
Their black umbrellas crazily swayed
and jaunted above them. I could see only
their legs until they tilted their awkward
awnings back like the Morton Salt girl.
Their joy brimmed over every puddle,
every emphatic stomp of their soaked-through
shoes. They paused, waved to where
I stood at the kitchen window,
in the ache of that ancient longing—
a child’s approach, return.

Previously published in the author’s collection, Take Nothing (Carnegie-Mellon Press, 2020).

Photo by Tatyana Tomsickova.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In this poem I have tried to capture the brief immediacy of a “moment” between a mother (me) and her children. I also see something timeless in the moment, prefiguring as it does how mothers across time have wished and waited for their children, no matter how grown, to return home from their journeys, no matter how small.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Pope has published four books of poetry—Fanatic Heart, Mortal WorldFalling Out of the Sky, and Take Nothing. Her newest, Wild Liar, is forthcoming in 2023 from Carnegie-Mellon Press. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Threepenny Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Southern Review, EPOCH, Birmingham Poetry Review, and Poetry Northwest, among others. She has also been awarded the Robinson Jeffers Prize.

Author photo by by Les Todd ©Duke University Photography.

olga tarakanova
Growing Faster Than Swamp Bamboo,
My Mother Liked to Say
by Jackie Craven

August turned our lake into a gloomy puddle
where minnows sank from the weight
of their own bodies and grownup voices
drifted on smoke from sad little charcoal fires
which made me wish for a cigarette—
a cloud of sin I could hold in my lungs
and no one would guess the darkness
inside me—or a secret tattoo
like a dragonfly or a message written in code—
impossible to decipher as I waded into the deepest
green. The water used to reach my chin but now
my legs were so much longer—
Even out by the rusty buoy
my feet touched bottom and mud pushed
between my toes. Above the din of lovelorn frogs
I heard her call and call.

Previously published in Secret Formulas & Techniques of the Masters by Jackie Craven, Brick Road Poetry Press, 2018.

IMAGE: Bamboo with leaves (watercolor) by Olga Tarakanova.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During the summer months, my family used to go camping at Lake Sherando in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Oh, the frogs and minnows, so fat and easy to catch. Oh, the nights lit by campfires and fireflies. As I entered my teens, the enchantment mingled with a desperate need for detachment . . . and a longing to hold on.

PHOTO: The author, age 11, at Lake Sherando (Virginia).

Author Jackie Craven in red turtleneck shirt and dark red glasses.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jackie Craven has recent poems in AGNI, The Massachusetts Review, New Ohio Review, Pleiades, Ploughshares, River Styx, and other journals and anthologies. She’s the author of Secret Formulas & Techniques of the Masters (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2018) and two chapbooks, Cyborg Sister (Headmistress Press, 2022) and  Our Lives Became Unmanageable (Omnidawn, 2016), winner of the Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction Award. After earning a Doctor of Arts in Writing from the University at Albany, New York, she worked for many years as a journalist covering architecture, visual art, and travel. Find her at

alice credenza 2
Fabulous Buffet
by Marilyn Zelke Windau

Six drawers and two doors it had.
When I got to be the same height as it,
I went exploring.

The drawers were heavy to pull out.
No real surprises there:
tablecloths folded in thirds,
napkins stacked six high,
thin wooden trays used for appetizers,
or health-providing foods when ailing.

The two top drawers held the service ware.
Forks and knives and spoons—
fish course forks, rounded soup spoons,
small dessert spoons, and tiny ones for tea.
It had all been my Aunt Evie’s—
silverware passed on after she did.

But it was those doors that drew me
to the fabulous buffet.
Empty keyholes lured my skinny fingers to poke.
They opened to the real treasures!

China figurines of a pony, a puppy,
elephant, goldfish, a brown bear—
a zoo silently chatting on a shelf.

Spherical glass balls of color were housed
in a gleaming silver bowl.
I held them each to the light
streaming in from the leaded glass windows.

One was facetted with a daisy,
carved on a squared side.
A spectrum of reds and yellows,
blues and greens flickered the walls.
I knew for sure it was Tinkerbell.

Many were the visits, many the discoveries,
quietly, carefully, secretly made
to the fabulous buffet.

PHOTO: Alice in Wonderland Credenza by Gypsy Queen, available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am a second child, a second daughter, not a firstborn and not the boy. I found myself getting into lots of trouble as a child, the proverbial second child syndrome. I ripped pages out of first edition books, jumped out of the bathtub to run down the street naked, picked all the neighbors’ tulips one spring. I loved exploring closets and cupboards secretly. Hence, the prompt for this poem.

Zelke Windau 1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marilyn Zelke Windau  started writing poems at age 13. A former art teacher, she has written four books of poetry, one self-illustrated, published: Adventures in Paradise (Finishing Line Press), Momentary Ordinary (Pebblebrook Press), Owning Shadows (Kelsay Books), Hiccups Haunt Wilson Avenue ((Kelsay Books). An award-winning author, her work may be found in many journals and anthologies. She includes her maiden name to honor her father, who was also a writer.

Gloria and I
Dressed Alike
by Margaret Duda

Gloria resembled me with dark hair,
softly curled on a wig of mohair,
realistic dark glass eyes that blinked,
and a composition head and limbs
made of sawdust, glue and cornstarch
attached to a soft, stuffed cloth torso.

Mama decided we would surprise
Papa for his birthday and sewed
matching dresses of dark gold satin
for Gloria and me on her treadle machine.
Each dress had a wide gathered collar
and puffy short sleeves and we wore
matching patent leather shoes. Mama
called them our go to meeting outfits.

Excitement started as soon as we took
our padded seats on the train
and others passed us in the aisle.
Women stopped to stare at us
and all took time to comment.

Oh, look, she is dressed like her doll.
I love the matching dresses.
You are a very lucky little girl
to have such a clever Mama.
You and your doll are so pretty.

Matching. Lucky. Clever.
I soaked up the new words,
asking Mama the meaning of each,
as I slowly learned more English
every weekend on the hissing train,
bucking us forward on rapid stops.

When we arrived, Papa was waiting
on the platform. The door opened,
and Gloria and I ran into his arms.
“You both look beautiful,” Papa said.
“I have a clever Mama,” I told him,
showing off new linguistic skills
“Yes, you do, Mancika,” Papa agreed,
smiling at Mama with appreciation.

PHOTO: The author with her beloved doll and traveling companion, Gloria.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 1946, when we lived in Watertown, New York, my father took a better job in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Since I was in kindergarten, my mother said we could join him when I finished the school year. My father took the train to see us every other weekend and on alternate weekends, we took the train to Bridgeport. Since my parents immigrated from Hungary in the 1920s, we spoke Hungarian at home as we lived near Hungarian friends and relatives. My mother taught me English six months before I started school, and by the second half of the year, I spoke and read it well for a five-year-old, but learned new words every other week on the train. I always took Gloria, my favorite doll, with me, and my mother made us matching dresses to surprise my father on his birthday and gave him a photo of me in the dress. Seventy-five years later, I found Gloria tucked away safely in one of my closets. Her curls were gone from all the brushing and small cracks could be seen on her composition face and limbs, but she still wore the go-to-meeting dress and reminded me of the English words I’d learned on the train. I learned to love traveling on those trips and traveled to more than 40 countries as a travel photographer and studied six languages later in life. I had to smile when the American Girl doll with matching clothes for a little girl came out and bought a doll and a matching dress for the four granddaughters I had then.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is a photo of me and four of my six granddaughters (two were yet to be born) with the American Girl dolls I bought, as I remembered how much I’d loved the matching dresses my mother had made. To show how long ago this photo was taken, the granddaughter to my left just graduated from law school and the one on the right is in her second year of dental school, the one on the lower left is doing an MFA in creative writing at Columbia, and the one on the lower right is studying cognitive science in college.  How time does fly!

Mancika 1 in dress

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is the “go to meeting dress” that my mother made. She gave my father this photo of me — I was then known as Mancika — to keep while he was working in Connecticut. I don’t have a photo of myself and Gloria in the matching dresses.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: As a poet, Margaret Duda has had numerous poems published during the past year in Silver Birch Press, THE  POET (UK) anthology entitled Friends and Friendships (Vol. 1), the anthology Around the World: Landscapes and Cityscapes, A Love Letter (or Poem) to... anthology, several poems on Connections and Creativity in Challenging Times, and three poems in Viral Imaginations: Covid-19. As a short story writer, she has had her work published in The Kansas Quarterly, the University Review, the Michigan Quarterly Review, the South Carolina Review, Fine Arts Discovery, Crosscurrents, Venture, Green River Review, and other journals. One of her short stories made the Distinctive List of Best American Short Stories. She has written five books of nonfiction, the latest are Four Centuries of Silver and Traditional Chinese Toggles: Counterweights and Charms. Listed in Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2021, she is currently working on the final draft of an immigrant family saga novel set in a steel mill town from 1910 to 1920.

benjamin haas circus
The Circus
by Lorraine Caputo

Late summer one year
a circus came to the field near our house.
The large trucks filled with animals drove up,
painted like old-time circus wagons,
the forgotten name emblazoned on the sides.
Tents were thrown up in the din of shouting and laughter.
The excitement built as their temporary settlement built.

We’d walk down to the edge of that field,
not daring to step from gravel to grass,
sit and watch these strangers.

The first night, the first performance
we were there
watching the tightrope walkers,
wondering if they really did have holes cut
in the bottoms of their buckets.
The lions and tigers were paraded out,
horseback riders
and tricycle clowns.
We laughed and smiled.

For a week
we’d wander to the field,
walk about the tents,
watch the man make sky blue
and magenta cotton candy.
Barefoot, watching for elephant shit,
cautiously reach our hand out
to touch that dry, wrinkled skin.

Our mother scolded us for going down so often.
But that didn’t stop us
from peeking beneath the tents,
slipping into the secret slits
to watch for just one more time
the ringmaster lead the people
into his world of circus wonders.

For six years they came
to fill those last waning days of warmth.
Then one summer they did not come.
The field lay barren of the brightly colored tents,
the air was still in the absence of elephant trumpeting.
I’d walk through the grass,
feel it rub against my thighs,
feel the earth ooze between my toes.
I’d gaze longingly across that field
wishing that the circus would come back.

Photo by Benjamin Haas.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We lived in a nature reserve when I was a child. Our neighbors were one other family and the rangers. There was a large field down the hill from out houses. This memory plays like an old movie, over and over, the same summer scenes (year after year) … until the film breaks, and the circus comes no more …

caputo 1

ABOUT THE  AUTHOR: Lorraine Caputo is a wandering troubadour whose poetry appears in over 300 journals on six continents, and 20 collections of poetry – including Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017), On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Caribbean Interludes (Origami Poems Project, 2022). She also authors travel narratives, articles, and guidebooks. Her writing has been honored by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada (2011) and nominated for the Best of the Net. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America with her faithful knapsack Rocinante, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. Follow her adventures at on Facebook and