Archives for posts with tag: children

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).

by Shel Silverstein

I made myself a snowball,
as perfect as could be.
I thought I’d keep it as a pet,
and let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas
And a pillow for its head.
Then last night it ran away,
But first it wet the bed!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chicago native Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) was a poet, songwriter, singer, cartoonist, screenwriter, and author. Other notable books include Falling Up (1996), The Giving Tree (1964), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974), and the song “A Boy Named Sue,”  made famous by Johnny Cash.

by Len Roberts

My five-year-old son rides the twelve-volt
   yellow car into the field
of wildflowers, beeps his horn
at the cat who zigzags madly
   before him,
switches on and off the low-density
   lights, turning around
just once to see I am still
It doesn’t matter, though, he won’t
   step on the brake,
won’t swerve around the first tier’s
   slope, instead goes
over it, out into the fields
   of straight spruce, where,
as he veers in and out of the rows,
it’s clear how much he is the driver
   my father was, speeding
to eighty miles an hour at the upstate
   New York winter curves,
the madman who whirled the Golden Eagle
   truck onto Lake George
ice in early April, drove it the entire
length trying to make a perfect figure 8.
The one who never once told me to slow down,
   to go straight,
who gave me two of his last four dollars
   an hour before he died,
blowing wheels of smoke into the yellow
   kitchen air, singing
with Tommy Edwards, Please Love Me Forever
into the idling engine of the night.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Len Roberts (1947-2007) was an American poet and teacher. His awards include a National Poetry Series award (1988), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Award for poetry (1991), two awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and two Fulbright Scholar awards. His many poetry collections include Black Wings (1989), The Trouble-Making Finch (1998), The Silent Singer (2001), and The Disappearing Trick (2007).


by Shel Silverstein

If you have to dry the dishes
(Such an awful, boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
(‘Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor —
Maybe they won’t let you
Dry the dishes anymore. 

“How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes” appears in Shel Silverstein‘s collection A Light in the Attic, available at

by Brad Leithauser

You have your one word, which fills you to brimming.
It’s what’s first to be done on waking,
Often the last at day-dimming:
Lunge out an arm fiercely,
As though your heart were breaking,
Stab a finger at some stray illumination —
Lamp, mirror, distant dinner candle —
And make your piercing identification,

“‘ight! ‘ight! ‘ight!”
Littlest digit, you’ve got the world by the handle.
Things must open for you, you take on height,
Your sole sound in time reveal itself
As might, too, and flight. And fright.
Some will be gone. But you will come right.