Archives for posts with tag: childhood

Christmas, 1955
by Patrick T. Reardon

David Michael smiles wide
under a jungle explorer helmet.
So do I. Our smiles toothy and
without restraint, as if there
will be no future.

We wear fake buckskin
with regimented fake leather fringe
that came with the fake coonskin caps
we wore like the TV star.
We could not believe our luck.

The Davy Crockett outfits and — there
must have been a sale — the jungle
explorer get-ups, simpler, just a
jungle explorer helmet and
a jungle explorer rifle
to kill big game.
We mixed and

Not knowing
the helmets
were called
pith helmets.

Not knowing
the small
that would
come sixty
years later
when the

SOURCE: This poem will appear in the author’s 110-page collection Requiem for David (Silver Birch Press, February 2017).

PHOTO: David Michael Reardon, who was nearly 5, and Patrick T. Reardon, who had just turned 6, on Christmas Day, 1955.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There are several photographs that were taken that Christmas of David Michael and me in our Davy Crockett stuff and our jungle explorer stuff. When I looked at them, the image that was most evocative was the one in which we’d mixed and matched the two outfits.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon is a Chicagoan, born and bred. He is the author of seven books, including Faith Stripped to Its Essence: A Discordant Pilgrimage through Shusaku Endo’s ‘Silence.’ His collection of poems Requiem for David will be published by Silver Birch Press in February 2017. Reardon worked for 32 years as a reporter with the Chicago Tribune, specializing in urban affairs, and is now writing a book about the untold story of the impact of the elevated railroad Loop on the stability and development of Chicago. His essays have appeared frequently in American and European publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, National Catholic Reporter, Illinois Heritage, Reality, and U.S. Catholic. His book reviews have twice won the Peter Lisagor Award for arts criticism. He has lectured on Chicago history at the Chicago History Museum.

December Nineteen Forty-One
by Rose Mary Boehm

Me in a pink woolly hat with patchwork.
The blue snow crunches. Small, dark,
laced-up boots. I look down. Holding my brother’s
hand. See the end of my coat move in step
with my legs, my knees. Knitted, scratchy stockings.

The church has colored windows
and a lot of dark-red velvet. One women
sings too high. Too loud. The pastor
has a cold. Who’s this sweet little Jesus?
My legs don’t reach the ground.
Father’s voice is deep.
My brother’s voice is breaking.

The church windows are lit up
from the inside. There are shepherds
on one, a man with a red cape on the other.
Many boots trample down the snow.

The door opens to warm. The smell
of pine needles. Candle wax.
A shimmer hovers over the tree.
Fathers reads the Christmas story,
his voice halts before saying “with child.”
Then, one day, we stopped meeting there.

PHOTO: The author in a hat in (1941).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In Germany, when I was about three and a half,  during the first years of WWII, my mother took my brother and me to live in a small village in rural Germany where she’d been born, hoping to escape the war of whose dimensions we as yet had no idea. My father tried to be there for every Christmas—until he wasn’t.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A German-born U.K. national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of TANGENTS, a poetry collection published in the U.K. (2011/2012), her work has been widely published in U.S. poetry journals (online and print).  Twice winner of the Goodreads monthly competition, her new poetry collection (From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949) was published by Aldrich Press in May 2016, and another new collection will be published by Kelsay Books in the middle of 2017.

PHOTO: The author in Lima, Peru (2016).

du Toit beach
by Marike du Toit

We discovered our younger selves
Amidst the jellyfish and sand;
We tickled our noses with ocean air
And held the bare sun in our hands.
We threw up an orange ball
Of laughter; we played tag
With silver streaks of mullets
And stuffed the clouds into a bag.
We strung stories into necklaces
And wore them on display:
We met our younger selves at the beach
And they taught us how to play.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My two friends playing with our orange ball at Kogelbaai beach, Cape Town, South Africa (October 2015).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written (whilst shivering in a wet bikini) upon return to my gray dorm room after a day spent on the nearby beach. We left campus tired and study-depressed, returning vibrant and positive. In the midst of our childlike frolics, I thought that a beach is surely the only place where you can pass time and return younger.

du Toit Bio1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marike du Toit is a South African civil engineering student. Cape St. Francis, the small coastal town she grew up in, gave her an immense love for the ocean and a passion for water sports. Marike made up for the lack of peers and entertainment with a large imagination and many creative hobbies. She started writing at a young age and still has her first poem, written at age nine, which is also about the beach.

AUTHOR’S BIO PHOTO CAPTION: My happy self at Kogelbaai beach, Cape Town, in October 2015.

A Short Dive from the Low Board
by John Lambremont, Sr.

That summer, the sun beat down on us
like it was the Devil himself;
we scampered for shade
into the thickest woods,
and drank a lot of hot water
from the garden hose.

The neighborhood pool was our savior,
our clear crystal blue oasis.
As soon as our summer membership began,
Mom started taking us to the pool
nearly every morning in June,
and we would often return again
with Dad late in the day.

On one sunny sojourn,
the Lackie twins and I
had the diving board
to ourselves; we performed
cannonballs and can openers,
jack-knives and swan dives
to our collective hearts’ content;
then we noticed that the lifeguard
had left temporarily his nearby post,
so we quickly concocted a plan.

We decided that the thing to do
was to all jump off the board
in rapid succession, taking
care not to land on each other,
so we prepared for the leap,
John in front, me in the middle,
and Jim taking up the rear.

John ran off the board,
and as I started to follow him,
I saw the lifeguard emerge
from the snack shop,
looking directly at me,
his face contorted with anger,
and about to shout, blow
his whistle, or both.
Busted, I stopped at mid-
board, and tried to turn around,
but in so doing, I ran into Jim,
lost my balance, and fell off
to the side like a poul-doux
being shot from the sky.

Time slowed to a crawl
as I rapidly descended;
I had no time to extend
my arms, and I landed
face-first on the concrete.
Stunned and numb, I drew
myself to my knees, checked
my face for blood, and found none.
My vision was awash in waves
as I staggered to my feet
and wobbled over to my mother
in her pool-side recliner.
She comforted me as I cried,
for once not scolding me
for doing a bad thing.

Jim got off the board gingerly,
and went to the spot where I fell.
He found there a small piece
of chipped tooth, picked it up,
and brought it to my mom.
She wrapped it up in a damp napkin,
summoned my little sister,
and took us home.

Dr. Lorio gave her concussion instructions,
and held me out of two baseball games.
The dentist said there was no way
to re-attach the chip, but that a cap
on the tooth was a viable alternative.
I declined, and to this day, one
can still see the chip in my upper incisor,
a permanent reminder of my
short dive from the low board.

PHOTO: “Boy jumping off diving board” by Kelly Redinger. Prints available at

1-John Lambremont, Sr. by Nhu-Y lambremont

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Lambremont, Sr., is a poet and writer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. John has a B.A. in Creative Writing and a J.D. from Louisiana State University. His poems have been published internationally in many reviews and anthologies, including Clarion, The Minetta Review, The Chaffin Journal, Picayune, and Words and Images, and he has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. John’s last full-length poetry volume is Dispelling the Indigo Dream (Local Gems Poetry Press 2013), and his latest chapbook is What It Means To Be A Man (And Other Poems Of Life And Death) (Finishing Line Press 2015). John’s new full-length poetry collection, The Moment Of Capture, will be published in June 2017 by Lit Fest Press.

Peipins- The Pool at the Temple
Diving into the Abyss
by Terez Peipins

It was big news when our new middle school installed a swimming pool. We all speculated about how it would look, what bathing suits we would wear, and what would happen if someone peed in it. Although I grew up next to a pond, I never learned to swim. So, in seventh grade the day finally came when our class went swimming. Our bathing suits were navy blue and baggy. I had to take off my glasses which meant I was in a chlorine fog. I joined the nerds in the shallow end and learned a strange frog-like backstroke. We had six weeks of a shallow pool experience where I could stand up at any time if my stroke wasn’t working.

The following year when our class’s turn came, I was sick with a cold for the first two weeks which kept me away from the pool. At the end of my first day back, the class lined up to dive. That was not something I could manage so I went to shower and change. The gym teacher pulled me out of the shower and made me get into line. I protested to no avail. I jumped off the diving board into the deep end. Sputtering I came up and had to be rescued by a pole.

All was not lost. The following year, understanding my fears, the new gym teacher (who, by the way, was hot) held my hand as I floated in the deep end. I’m still not a great swimmer but I can swim in the deep end of a pool with a minimum of anxiety.

PHOTO: The author in the pool at Baps Indian Temple (Atlanta, Georgia).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The  poetry, fiction, and essays of Terez Peipins have appeared in publications both in the United States and abroad, including Anak Sastra, Barcelona Ink, The Barcelona Review, The Buffalo News,Conte, Creeping Bent,Hawai’ Pacific Review, Melusine, and Pedestal, among many others.  Her newest chapbook, Dance the Truth is published by Saddle Road Press. Her novel, The Shadow of Silver Birch is published by Black Rose Writing.

Old retro bike.
Tired Memories
by Shivapriya Ganapathy

the left and right handlebars
my childhood sat plop with

not-so-tight a grasp
on a brakeless bike-

(the one bought at a local garage for some cousin, and
generously passed down)

a skeptic green leaning over
our sturdy brick wall

for a week
the pedals whizzed up
and down
chasing the wind…

a bump here, and a dent
there, as i

wheeled my way to
bruised elbows and a
bleeding knee, which

ammi hushed wrapping me in
longer skirts and a tirade for
rest of the week admonishing

as though the bike had brought out
some devil in me

i would laugh off in a
swish of green cloud
barely touching the ground, even as

my snaky hair with its twisted heads
waved at the mountain sky

swiveling my bike
in those ribboned lanes my way

ghost winds howled into the
open mouth and wide-eyes of a
now fossilized

today, i turn the dusty green cycle
over in my mind, and

find my tired memory
lying flat —
a pale scar on my skin, the

only keepsake from
bygone rides

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The moment I learned the theme for this series, I was instantly drawn to it because cycling is one of the few outdoor activities I absolutely enjoy to this day. Funnily, when I sat to pen it, I realized how subjective and patchy memory could be, with incidents from my childhood and that of the long-lost green cycle bobbing up and down in my mind at their own pace (in a non-linear fashion). So this poem is one of nostalgia for the wind on my face, curvy roads downhill, and a carefree time.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shivapriya Ganapathy lives in Chennai, India. She graduated with a Masters degree in English Literature, and is now a research scholar working on lesbian feminism and language. She mostly writes in free verse but also dabbles with haiku, tanka, and other Japanese short forms of poetry. Her poems have appeared in Whispers, Verse Wrights, Word Couch, Wordweavers, Spilt Ink Poetry, Sonic Boom, The Squire: 1,000 Paper Cranes Anthology, and The Great Gatsby Anthology by Silver Birch Press. She also maintains a personal blog and finds writing with a mug of coffee beside her therapeutic.

No stablisers today
by Finola Scott

Gravel sharp grey crunching
ground slopes down, acid
dandlelions crowd the edges
     don’t go there don’t
      stay on the smooth path
      fast too fast
      but ai must go fast
      or I’ll fall
Wheels whirr whizz
My buckled sandals pump
faster round the pedals.
Daddy runs along
shouting “Straighten up, now!”
His tight hand at the saddle’s back
keeps me steady.

Sun belts down, burns freckles on neck,
grubby hands slip slide on chrome
     I can’t do this           too fast           I can’t
Mummy’s favorite blackbird whistles.
Near path’s end I rush
forward past the broken fence
hurtle alongside
the rough brick wall.
My curls bounce, gingham dress whips legs.
I glance round to ask
Daddy what to do
but he’s not there.
He’s grinning
from the top of the lane.

PHOTO: “Girls learn to ride a bike” (vintage photo, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In this poem, I try to capture the thrill and the fear of learning something potentially dangerous. More than that, it’s a tribute to parents, guardians, uncles, and aunties — anyone who has ever taken the time to teach a skill.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Finola Scott‘s poems and short stories are widely published in anthologies and magazines, including The Ofi Press, Raum, Dactyl, and The Lake. She is pleased to be mentored this year on the Clydebuilt Scheme by Liz Lochead. A performance poet, she is proud to be a slam-winning granny. She  lives in Glasgow, Scotland.

Kerns pic
Falling at the Fairgrounds
by S.L. Kerns

The fields past the basketball goals of the Adair County Fairgrounds were where I learned to ride a bike. Still five, Dad bought me a big BMX for my birthday. It was a sunny day. My folks were still married then. Still happy. Mom stood on the side watching as Dad put me on the seat. My feet dangled down. Dad held me up for balance while I pedaled around the field getting the hang of it.

He let go.

I rolled with more momentum than I had ever experienced, the Challenger bound for space. As the speed eased up the bike became wobbly. I fell over. My body flopped on the ground, the wind knocked out of me. I cried without sound. Without breath.

Dad told me to be a man and try again.

And again.

And again.

Dirty, hurt, and crying, I wanted to quit. Mom pleaded my case. Dad wouldn’t hear it.

“Don’t you ever be a quitter, son! You are better than that.”

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Around the age of five at my grandfather’s house. We lived there after he passed away. He was a cool man in a rocking band called Mr. G and the G-strings.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a story I wrote on my iPhone during my long commute to work here in Kagawa, Japan. I do some of my best thinking on the quiet train with the mountains rolling by. I often piece things together on my phone and then download them onto my laptop and edit them to as close to perfection as I can manage.


S.L. Kerns
may have southern roots grounded in Kentucky, but has branched out to a life in Asia. He spent nearly six years lost in Bangkok before moving to his current home in Japan. He loves soaking in words of wisdom from being an avid reader and a good listener. He also loves bodybuilding, and likes to think of himself as one of the strongest prose writers since Yukio Mishima. He teaches English and has recently begun writing, using his surplus of wild experiences to fuel his stories. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Flash Fiction Magazine, 101 Words, Silver Birch Press, Visual Verse, Degenerate Literature, and 47-16: A Collection of Poetry and Fiction Inspired by David Bowie. He also blogs for Muay Thai Lab. Follow him at

Bicycle Wheels
by Richard L. Ratliff

I remember clothespins and baseball cards
Used them on my bicycle spokes
Made it sound like a Harley
We never heard of helmets back when

Let’s be pretentious as grown ups.
Bad-ass bikers all of twelve.
Chuck Taylors roaming the neighborhood
Like a little rascals our gang movie

Always sang off-key like Alfalfa
And Spanky’s voice was cracking
No church choir for us
Carla was the little redhead two blocks over.

There was no Buckwheat in our neighborhood
We didn’t know why and that was our loss
We didn’t know any better
We would have liked him

Roamed blocks and backyards till dusk
Chased frogs at the creek, butterflies in a field
What is it called today — free-range kids?
But mother yelled and home we rode
Wonder if we used any Mickey Mantle cards

We buried old coffee cans of stuff
Outside our treehouse fort where we shot Indians
Time capsules for the future? I wonder

Copyright 2015, Richard L Ratliff

PHOTO: Mickey Mantle baseball card (1952) clothes-pinned to bicycle. (Photo by Jim Degerstrom, All rights reserved.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poetic process is simply to paint word pictures of my memories and observations — to try and create new and unique images, hoping to touch the reader


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard L Ratliff is a baby boomer, born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana — his midwest ties have built the foundation and setting for his poetry. He is a Purdue University graduate with two years of engineering turned into a degree in English Literature, along with being a two-year letterman in wrestling. All of these eclectic combinations have given him a career as a boiler and combustion expert and poet. He has two published books.

Happy little girl standing on the beach
by Ritika Singh

First came jealously. A brother’s
thrust past me. Unsettled
dust of bicycle
grand prix.

At eight, I finally decided to
partake in this
of two wheels.

“Bhai ,
please teach me to
ride,” I
cried. “Sunday,” said he, after my ducts

Helmet. Knee pads.
Peanuts (for the show). Keys to his blue

Slow. I’ll
Follow. Don’t be a
fool!” and
I was in the bushes.

Take two.
Break! Move!
1998 was the year that I
yearned to glide
learnt to ride. And painfully discovered

PHOTO: “Girl riding bike on beach” by Altanaka, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ritika Singh is a Ph.D. scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. She penned her first poem years before she learnt to ride a bike in 1998.