Archives for posts with tag: children

Wake Up
by Feroza Jussawalla

Out of my anesthetic fog, a nurse, who was once my student
wakes me, in Memorial General Hospital, Las Cruces.
“Wake up, your baby needs to be fed!”
Waking, incoherent, I hold a tiny bundle,
I clutch it in fear,
Chilled and cold, I try to warm it. It’s been a long thirty-six weeks,
commuting, fasting, fighting, thus, and yet, not cooked right.
Too premie to be.
But we try. Trembling both of us. I tremble still, at the thought of us.
And even as I hold you, there is not yet a cry.
The memory makes me tremble even today, as I write.
“Tremble, tremble…”
A birthday, sans cake, thirty-nine years ago,
one neither of us was supposed to survive.

That memory, I will treasure,
of giving you life and liberty …

Photo by bady abbas on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My only son was born on my birthday prematurely, and weighed only four pounds. The fact that we survived the crisis situation and now have a young man who saves lives as a physician, makes the crisis a most treasured memory, and proves that having lived through difficult times, those challenging times, become good experiences.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Feroza Jussawalla is Professor Emerita at the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, NM, USA. She has taught in the United States for 40 years, at the universities of Utah, Texas-El Paso, and the University of New Mexico. She is the author of Family Quarrels: Towards a Criticism of Indian Writing in English, (Peter Lang, 1984), one of the earliest works on what became Postcolonial Literature. In this work, she proposed using Sanskritist aesthetics as opposed to British, or U.S. new critical approaches, to assess Indian literatures in English, which were being dismissed as not meeting the literary standards of Western literatures. Since then, she has edited or co-edited, Conversations with V.S. Naipaul (University Press of Mississippi, 1999), Interviews with Writers of the Postcolonial World (University Press of Mississippi, 1997), Emerging South Asian Women’s Writing (Peter Lang, 2017), Memory, Voice and Identity: Muslim Women’s Writing from Across the Middle East (Routledge, 2021), Muslim Women’s Writing from Across South and South East Asia (Routledge, 2022). Her collection of poems, Chiffon Saris (2002), was published by Kolkata, Writer’s Workshop and Toronto South Asian Review Press. She has numerous published articles and poems.

licensed katherine bernard Yip Choy
happy birfday to you
by dana st. mary

i washed and washed and washed
my hands because that’s what we do
now and sang a twenty second song
also, in my head of course, i sang
happy birfday to you because that’s
the way i have been saying it in my
head for like twenty years and i
washed and washed and sang and sang
and thought about yesterday after work
because i am lucky enough to still
have a job after work yesterday with my
son at the park even though we weren’t
supposed to go out anymore we
did to walk the dog and he asked me
how long it would be before he could
touch the swing set again or the slide
as he is just eight and monkey bars are
heaven to him and the look on his face

well, i had no answer and don’t make a
habit of lying to him so i just threw the
ball for elvis and hugged my boy and
listened to the ever rarer plane go by

in a very empty sky.

PHOTO: Playground closed due to Covid-19 quarantine by Katherine Bernard Yip Choy, used by permission. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poems are written from the perspective of a hotel worker. I am the Chief Engineer at the PDX Embassy Suites and have worked through this entire affair with frontline customer service contact. I have used all the right precautions, I guess, because our family has been safe thus far, and my youngest daughter of six is immunocompromised, having Down Syndrome. I am not a hero by anybody’s yardstick. I just get up every day to go to work and provide for my family. Customer service is a lifestyle choice, definitely. We have had the honor of hosting first responders at the hotel. God bless them all.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: dana st. mary is a lifelong devourer of books and tall tales told by strangers, in odd places. he spent over 15 years as an alaskan deckhand on halibut, black cod, and crab boats. he spent twenty plus years as a traveler and inveterate storyteller. north america is his particular bailiwick.  he now sleeps in a bed, under a roof, with his wife (colleen) and two exceptionally handsome children (patrick and irene). Visit him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and youtube

Here at Home
by Dylan Ward

Take care, my precious son
Days blend together
In a different reality
Green colors our landscape again
Spring afternoons warm your carefree heart
The edge of the yard, woods beyond
Where your soul soars
Where your imagination runs wild and free

I see you
Fingers search for the center of the earth
You marvel at crawling critters
You wonder at the heavens in dappled sunlight
Rays of light to light your light
Your laughter is a treasure to behold

Ghost handprints upon the front door’s glass
Small affirmations of your presence
Small attests of childhood in a weary world

Happiness emits from your orange-peel smile
Cookies crumble in the corners of your mouth
Milk coats your upper lip in a mustache
Your joy makes my heart full

Be sad for lost soccer practices
Be sad for missing swim lessons
Cry for your friends at school
Cry for a time that makes little sense
Your sadness makes my heart ache

Here at home, I welcome you
When sun rises, when sun fades
Here at home, you are safe
Here at home, you are loved
I hold you in my arms
My precious son

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I don’t write much poetry. But these are strange times. This began as an essay that took on the form of a poem. My son has expressed a whirlwind of emotions over these days and weeks. This was my way of expressing our grief and joy. And it’s a small way to remember my son and his altered childhood during our shelter.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dylan Ward lives and writes various things in North Carolina. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in One Person’s Trash, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Split Rock Review, and elsewhere. He contributes as a reader for Flash Fiction Magazine. When not writing, he’s usually reading something with a strong cup of coffee, pondering the mysteries of the world, or dreaming of writing. You can find him online at and on Twitter @dylanwardwriter.

Hernandez Door
An offering
by Jennifer Hernandez

At my doorstep
four boxes of Samoas
delivered by my friend,
mother of Girl Scouts.

An envelope taped
to the door, $20 cash.
The virus can survive
5 days on paper.

She rang the bell to seal
delivery. We smiled weakly
through the glass outer door
& waved.

I gathered the wafers,
sold on scarcity principles
long before TP shortages,
carried them gently inside.

Small comfort.
Holy Communion
for the three sons,
near-adults, who now live

cloistered lives in dark rooms
murmuring prayers, incantations
hypnotized by flickering screens
waiting, waiting for deliverance.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A Facebook post from a teacher/writer friend about Girl Scout cookies turned into a special delivery turned into a poem. As a person fortunate enough to be waiting out the coronavirus in my own home with my family, I am grateful for the silver lining of having the time and space to reflect and write about the experience. There are many small pleasures of human connection that I hope to never take quite so much for granted again.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Hernandez, Minnesota teacher/writer, has performed her poetry at a non-profit garage and a taxidermy-filled bike shop. Currently, she’s on a crash course to implement distance learning with middle school English learners, while simultaneously homeschooling her high school sons. She didn’t sign up for this. Recent publications include Three Drops in a Cauldron, Talking Stick, Writers Resist, Sleet Magazine, and Poetry in the Park in the Dark. She is overjoyed at the return of Silver Birch Press.

Patrick T. Reardon (right) at the age of two with his brother David. Not shown, their baby sister Mary Beth, three months
by Patrick T. Reardon

My first job landed on me like a ton of children
on my four-hundred-and-twenty-eighth day. It
began with my brother. Two sisters followed.
Two more brothers. Eight more sisters. The first
shepherds, guardians, models, corrects, leads,
parents, loves. I watch in Burger King as the
oldest girl has her eyes out for each of the four
small ones. She tracks the route of each, the
message of the lips and cheeks. She knows each
inner fabric — the stories lived out there, she
hears in blips and blurts and epic runs of words
and visions that she holds in her heart. She is
the translator, the middleman, the bridge that
each side walks across to the other. She carries
a weight on her six-year-old shoulders. She knows
the weight I carry on my sixty-seven-year-old
shoulders. I carry the baby because the baby
must be carried and because I find the baby
endlessly a wonderment, flesh of my flesh, bone
of my bone, my blood. I smile when the baby
smiles. I fill up with the sight of the wide world
in the wide eyes of the baby. In the wide eyes
of each of the babies, and all of them. Mine is
a happy weight, and dolorous. I want to wrap
my wings around them all, pull them together
in my protecting embrace. But I am too small,
then and now.

PHOTO: Patrick T. Reardon (right) at the age of two with his brother David.  Not shown, their baby sister Mary Beth, three months.  They were joined later by eleven other siblings.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have become aware of the joyful and heavy task that I carry as the oldest of 14 children.  Like most jobs, there is much about being the oldest that brings delight but then also much that brings pain.

Patrick T. Reardon..

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Chicagoan Patrick T. Reardon is the author of Requiem for David, a poetry collection published by Silver Birch Press and of seven other books, including Faith Stripped to Its Essence, a literary-religious examination of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence.

Childbirth 1955 by André Masson 1896-1987
by Katie Manning

My veins roll away.
The back of my hand swells
black with blood.

The soles of my feet
hold each other.
I am waiting on a cliff
over the ocean.
Breathe. Breathe.
I taste the salt.

The me in the room
is not me.

I blow out candles,
blow the candles, blow.
No, I am just a child,
a big breath
before a bright red
birthday cake—
I can’t let go

The next one is the
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The head in the mirror is not mine
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Someone has set me on fire
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

I’m inside out.

Open my eyes. Wet red life
wriggles on my belly. Mouth open,
eyes closed. It must be crying,
but I only hear my own voice,
Oh my. Oh my.

My husband avoids
sharp objects near soft skin.
The baby is weighed, measured, inked,
placed in a glass bowl.

Sewn back together with blood and twine,
I become
something new.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is the love child of Mina Loy and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who make me observe the world in slow motion and in painfully beautiful detail. I adore Ferlinghetti’s work, and I once got to chat with him after a reading about how much we love San Francisco.

IMAGE: “Childbirth” by André Masson (1955).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katie Manning collects books, tea, and board games. She is the author of three poetry collections: The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Tea with Ezra (Boneset Books, 2013), and I Awake in My Womb (Yellow Flag Press, 2013). Her work has also appeared in several anthologies and journals, including Fairy Tale Review, New Letters, and Poet Lore. She lives in California and teaches poetry at Azusa Pacific University. Find her online at


Mei Mei, Little Sister: Portraits from a Chinese Orphanage 

by Richard Bowen

Introduction by Amy Tan

(144 pages, published by Chronicle Books in 2005)

ABOUT THE BOOK: The Chinese believe an unseen red thread joins those in this life who are destined to connect. For photographer Richard Bowen, that thread led him to China’s state-run welfare institutions, where there are thousands of children, primarily girls, growing up without families to take care of them. Mei Mei presents a poignant glimpse of just a few of these remarkable children. Composed against neutral backgrounds, these portraits capture the girls inner lives, away from their often bleak surroundings. The images show an almost endless range of expressions: small faces filled with longing and hope, joy and sadness, humor and mischief, defiance and despair. Through the camera’s eye, these young children are no longer orphans, but individuals whose personalities are as vital, distinct, and beautiful as any mother’s child. When that unique human being comes into focus, the connection is made and the red thread becomes visible. And once seen, the bond can never be broken. Find Mei Mei: Portraits from a Chinese Orphanage at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR/ PHOTOGRAPHER: Richard Bowen, with his wife and other adoptive parents, founded Half the Sky Foundation, which seeks to enrich the lives of children living in Chinese orphanages. A director, producer, and director of photography in film and television, his credits include Cinderella Moon, In Quiet Night, The Little Rascals, The Wizard of Loneliness, Head Above Water, Article 99, Belizaire the Cajun, Flags of Our Fathers, The Kite Runner, Wyatt Earp, Havana, and Deep Rising. He lives in Berkeley, California with his wife Jenny and two daughters, Maya and Anya.

by Stephen Burt 

A real one wouldn’t need one,
but the one Nathan draws surely does:
four oblongs the size and color of popsicles,
green apple, toasted coconut and grape,
flanked, two per side, by billowing valentine hearts,
in a frame of Scotch tape.
Alive, it could stay off the floor,
for a few unaerodynamic minutes;
thrown as a paper airplane, for one or two more.

Very sensibly, therefore,
our son gave it something, not to keep it apart
from the ground forever, but rather to make safe its descent.
When we ask that imagination discover the limits
of the real
world only slowly,
maybe this is what we meant.
“Butterfly with Parachute” appears in Stephen Burt’s collection Belmont (Graywolf Press, 2013), available at


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. He grew up around Washington, D.C., and earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale. Burt has published three collections of poems: Belmont (2013), Parallel Play (2006), and Popular Music (1999).

Burt’s works of criticism include Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry (2009), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Art of the Sonnet—written with David Mikics (2010); The Forms of Youth: 20th-Century Poetry and Adolescence (2007); Randall Jarrell on W.H. Auden (2005), with Hannah Brooks-Motl; and Randall Jarrell and His Age (2002).

Burt has taught at Macalester College and is now Professor of English at Harvard University. He lives in the suburbs of Boston with his spouse, Jessie Bennett, and their two children. (Source:

Author Photo: Jessica Bennett, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

by Alan R. Shapiro 

The two boys lean out on the railing   
of the front porch, looking up.
Behind them they can hear their mother   
in one room watching “Name That Tune,”   
their father in another watching   
a Walter Cronkite Special, the TVs   
turned up high and higher till they   
each can’t hear the other’s show.   
The older boy is saying that no matter   
how many stars you counted there were   
always more stars beyond them   
and beyond the stars black space   
going on forever in all directions,   
so that even if you flew up
millions and millions of years   
you’d be no closer to the end   
of it than they were now
here on the porch on Tuesday night   
in the middle of summer.
The younger boy can think somehow   
only of his mother’s closet,   
how he likes to crawl in back   
behind the heavy drapery
of shirts, nightgowns and dresses,   
into the sheer black where
no matter how close he holds   
his hand up to his face
there’s no hand ever, no
face to hold it to.
A woman from another street
is calling to her stray cat or dog,   
clapping and whistling it in,
and farther away deep in the city   
sirens now and again
veer in and out of hearing.
The boys edge closer, shoulder   
to shoulder now, sad Ptolemies,
the older looking up, the younger
as he thinks back straight ahead
into the black leaves of the maple
where the street lights flicker
like another watery skein of stars.
“Name That Tune” and Walter Cronkite
struggle like rough water
to rise above each other.
And the woman now comes walking
in a nightgown down the middle
of the street, clapping and
whistling, while the older boy
goes on about what light years
are, and solar winds, black holes,
and how the sun is cooling
and what will happen to
them all when it is cold.
“Astronomy Lesson” appears in Alan R. Shapiro’s collection Happy Hour (The University of Chicago Press, 1987).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan Shapiro (born in 1952), the author of numerous collections of poetry, has won the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Los Angeles Book Prize, and a Lila Wallace–Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award. He has taught at Stanford University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.



If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” ALBERT EINSTEIN

Photo: Model Twiggy reads to daughter Carly (born 1978).