Archives for posts with tag: family

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.

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.


by Margaret Towner

The three-tiered plant hanger
is on the patio where my mother
could see it from her chair
when she was still living
in the house. Barb hung it high
last year and placed three
bright pots of graduated size:
one white flowering plant
at the top, in constant bloom,
a jade plant in the middle
always pale green, and finally
a red blooming succulent
with flowers that come and go.

“The Rise and Fall of Life” and other poetry by Margaret Towner appears in the Silver Birch Press Green Anthology — a collection of poetry and prose by over 70 authors living in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Europe, and Africa — available at (Kindle version free until 12/21/13).

by Albert Garcia

It’s ripe, the melon
by our sink. Yellow,
bee-bitten, soft, it perfumes
the house too sweetly.
At five I wake, the air
mournful in its quiet.
My wife’s eyes swim calmly
under their lids, her mouth and jaw
relaxed, different.
What is happening in the silence
of this house? Curtains
hang heavily from their rods.
Ficus leaves tremble
at my footsteps. Yet
the colors outside are perfect–
orange geranium, blue lobelia.
I wander from room to room
like a man in a museum:
wife, children, books, flowers,
melon. Such still air. Soon
the mid-morning breeze will float in
like tepid water, then hot.
How do I start this day,
I who am unsure
of how my life has happened
or how to proceed
amid this warm and steady sweetness?

Poem copyright © by Albert Garcia from his book Skunk Talk (Bear Starr Press, 2005), available at

Painting: “Melon,” watercolor by Ema Angelova, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Thank you to everyone who downloaded a Kindle version of PHOENIX by Philippa Mayall during our free Kindle days on 7/30 and 7/31. The book achieved #1 status on Amazon’s Free Kindle list for “Drug Dependency.”

In her memoir, author Philippa Mayall takes us from her childhood in England, where family members perished in a house fire ignited by an alcoholic stepfather to Los Angeles and her struggle with drug dependency and homelessness.

To give you an overview of the book, here is text from the back cover:

“This powerful memoir immediately establishes itself as the work of a highly talented young writer. In a voice that is strong, unsparing, never judgmental, Mayall traces her years-long journey as a young woman to find escape out of the entrapping mean streets of Los Angeles, a separated world invisible to all but its denizens. She does this with unflinching honesty and authenticity. She knows what it’s like to wake up into the harsh sunlight in a Venice Beach parking lot, cramped in an old car with other outcasts. She conveys the urgency for chemical surcease that leads her into dangerous streets, dark alleys; surcease no matter if bought by a sordid paid encounter. A punishing dawn at times finds her still searching for that illusive escape.

Through all this, Mayall is able to find poignancy and humor. She finds it in the drug recovery meetings she haunts in search of vagrant camaraderie. She finds it—and introduces the reader to a cast of memorable fellow exiles–in a rigidly ruled rehabilitation institution.

This is a memorable book–beautifully and even lyrically written. At times it is melancholy, at times hopeful, at times shocking, but it is always moving. At times it is even exuberant with the sense of a life lived determined to survive.”

JOHN RECHY, author of City of Night

Stay tuned for future Kindle giveaways of PHOENIX! Again, thank you to everyone who downloaded a free Kindle version of the book. We are trying to get the word out about Mayall’s compelling memoir — so please help us spread the word by reblogging, posting on Facebook, or emailing to friends.

by Lawrence Kearney

Mother is off to LADIES WEAR,
As usual, I’m with him.
Passing HARDWARE, he instructs me
in the merits of variable-speed
drills, the sham of saber saws,
the parable of human folly
embodied in third-rate drop-forged
hammers. I nod. I’m twelve. He’s
teaching me to shop like a man.
a foray into COSMETICS
for deodorant & shave cream—
the lights droning overhead—
their rheumy incessant gossip,
here, in the one place we talk.
When it’s time to go, his lessons
lapse. He wanders off by himself,
whistling his special call for Mother:
two notes
so high & clear they rise
above the whole store—
that tired adult head, the jowls
rich with ridicule, with affection, Father
floating there like some exotic bird—
calling again & again for his unseen lover
across the abyss of goods
between them. 

Photo: Interior of a 1970s Kmart, from The Grand Emporiums: The Illustrated History of America’s Great Department Stores by Robert Hendrickson (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. 

by Christina Rosetti (1830-1894)

The peach tree on the southern wall 
Has basked so long beneath the sun, 
Her score of peaches great and small 
Bloom rosy, every one. 
A peach for brothers, one for each, 
A peach for you and a peach for me; 
But the biggest, rosiest, downiest peach 
For Grandmamma with her tea. 

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”


Photo: Jacqueline Kennedy reads to 21-month-old daughter Caroline, Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, August 1959. (Corbis images)



Poem by Margaret Towner

The three-tiered plant hanger

is on the patio where my mother

could see it from her chair

when she was still living

in the house. Barb hung it high

last year and placed three

bright pots of graduated size:

one white flowering plant

at the top, in constant bloom,

a jade plant in the middle

always pale green, and finally

a red blooming succulent

with flowers that come and go.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Towner is a teacher of English learners and students at-risk in reading. She lived for many years in Latin America—Uruguay, Chile, El Salvador, and Mexico—and translates poetry from Spanish to English, writes children’s music, and performs Latin American music. In 2005, she received the Jane Buel Bradley Chapbook Award, and her poetry will be featured in the Cancer Poetry Project Anthology, the Serving House Press, and the Center for Nondual Awareness.

“The Rise and Fall of Life” and other poetry by Margaret Towner will appear in the Silver Birch Press Green Anthology — a collection of poetry and prose from authors who reside in the U.S., U.K., Europe, and Africa — available March 15, 2013.