Archives for posts with tag: parents

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Chinese Restaurant (London 1988)
by Tricia Marcella Cimera

This is my favorite
Chinese restaurant in London,
my dad declares as we climb
a long dark flight of stairs
in a timeless building
where a hostess waits at the top.
I order cashew chicken—
the sauce is clear, fragrant
(there & yet not there).
The chicken is so white,
the cashews are fat & golden.
Rice awaits in a red bowl,
every grain tiny as a second.
As the lights go on
in Piccadilly Circus, my dad & I talk
in a circle of candlelight
by the window while the cashews
resemble crescent moons shining
on the china plate or little ears
listening avidly to our conversation
(which flows like warm tea)—
& the check doesn’t come
for hours & hours.

PHOTO: Cathay Chinese Restaurant, Glasshouse Street, Piccadilly Circus, London, England (1982).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My late dad inhabits many of my poems. This poem is about when I went to London on my own when I was in my early twenties. My father met me there; he was working in Germany at the time. We had a brief, splendid visit together. I wish I could remember the name of that Chinese restaurant; it was a mysterious oasis above Piccadilly Circus and had the best food ever (authentic, as they say). My dad and I talked of many things that night like we always did. He was endlessly fascinating with a gorgeous sense of humor. During our visit we also went to a Russian restaurant called Borscht N Tears, where we had caviar and encountered unruly Germans – but that is another good memory.

EDITOR’S NOTE: According to The Guardian, Britain’s first mainstream Chinese restaurant, Cathay, arrived in London’s Piccadilly Circus area during 1908, setting off the UK’s love of Chinese cuisine that has never waned.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tricia Marcella Cimera is a Midwestern poet with a worldview. Her poems have appeared in various diverse journals online and in print. She lives, writes, despairs, and tries to hope in America. A cedar Poetry Box called The Fox Poetry Box is mounted on a post in her front yard.

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Hair Color
by Nancy Lubarsky

I never knew my father dyed my mother’s
hair. It happened at night, after I went to sleep.
Onetime their muffled voices woke me. They
didn’t know I was there. I sat in our small

apartment’s dark living room, peered around
the corner. They were in the kitchen, her back
to him, covered with old sheets, a few more
spread underneath. At first, I wasn’t sure—

there was just a sour smell. She leaned back
against his chest, her eyes closed, his thick
arms above her head. He rubbed her temples,
then one plastic-gloved hand picked up the

narrow brush, dipped it in the mixture. Slowly,
he parted her hair, dabbed at the white roots.
There was a swish sound as he stroked back
and forth, lifting layer after layer of hair. They

hardly spoke except when he whispered, tilt
your head. I saw him catch a drip with his finger
before it reached her chin. He wiped her cheek
with a cloth. I dozed off for a while, until I heard

her chair scrape the floor. There they were, in
the same position—her forehead and temples
now framed with what seemed like mud.
They were both so still. Just waiting.

PAINTING: Woman with red hair by Amedeo Modigliani (1917)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My mother always prided herself on being a “redhead” and my sister and I had no reason to disbelieve her. She used to go to the beauty salon weekly but stopped when my father became ill and had to cut back on his hours. I guess he did her hair as a way to save money, but they didn’t want us to know. Perhaps keeping this a secret was their way of protecting us. When I saw them that night, I thought I had discovered some deep, dark secret they had been hiding from us.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nancy Lubarsky writes from Cranford, New Jersey. An educator for over 35 years, she retired as a superintendent. Nancy has been published in various journals, including Exit 13, Lips, Tiferet, Poetic, Stillwater Review, and Paterson Literary Review. Her work received honorable mention in the 2014 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, and again in 2016 and 2018. She is the author of two collections: Tattoos (Finishing Line Press) and The Only Proof (Kelsay Press, a Division of Aldrich Books). She received honorable mention in The Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Contest (2018), and has received three Pushcart Prize nominations.

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After Surviving
by Salli Berg Seeley

the death of his Spleen, the septic corrosion
of his Gallbladder, and the 2nd Heart attack
of his life, my dad eats
an orange over a flimsy, white
paper plate, under
greenwhite fluorescent light.

His dark eyes spark again and
he smiles and grunts, grateful,
greedy, and breathless,
he has no patience for parts, he bites
into the heart of the fruit, juice
and pulp catch on the stillblack
whiskers of his unshaven cheeks
and chin. He can’t
get it in fast enough,
the air, the fruit, the air, bright
with the perfume oil of the rind.
“Good,” he grunts, “it’s good.”

And there he is, again.
Alive. Again. Alive.

PAINTING: Sunrise by George Stefanescu (1966).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem details a moment of joy when I watched my father devour an orange as he emerged from life-threatening illness. It is a bittersweet good memory.

Berg Seeley

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Salli Berg Seeley writes poetry and creative nonfiction and participates in live storytelling events in Chicago, Illinois, where teaches Writing and Literature courses at DePaul University. She believes that poetry saves lives. It has saved hers many times.

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Open to Interpretation
by Vijaya Gowrisankar

I am still waiting to understand the look in your eyes
when you extended your hand and squeezed me
for one last time

I am still waiting to understand the look in your eyes
through the pain I felt when I grew from a child
to an adult, overnight

I am still waiting to understand the look in your eyes,
the message that everyone conveyed when they turned
their backs on us, strangers we were once more

I am still waiting to understand the look in your eyes
What were your dreams for me as a parent? Do my choices
match who you dreamt I would become over the years?

I am still waiting to understand the look in your eyes
and the anger in my heart, for never having forgotten
or forgiven you for leaving me when you did

I am still waiting to understand the look in your eyes,
for time never stopped, and it didn’t allow me to stand
in the same place that you left me, bereft

I am still waiting to understand the look in your eyes,
that has influenced every decision I’ve made,
often wondering what your guidance would have been

I am still waiting to understand the look in your eyes,
through the joys and sorrows I’ve embraced over the years,
missing you at every step

I am still waiting to understand the look in your eyes,
and the message you were trying to convey. Was that
last squeeze “sorry” or “take care” or “do your best”?

PAINTING: The forest that watches me by Marina Pallares (2016).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is dedicated to the last moments I spent with my father before he left for his heavenly abode. As life has evolved, I’ve often wondered what things would have been like if he were still there. Those last moments have been an anchor and have often guided me for critical life decisions.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vijaya Gowrisankar is the author of the poetry collections InspireReflectExploreSavour–Art and Poetry meetEvolve, Shine, Unlikely Friendships, and Cherish. Her blog Grow Together shares insights from the greatest influencers and focuses on personal growth. She has been published in over 80 anthologies. Visit her blogFacebook page, and Amazon Author page, and find her on Twitter.

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Thank you, Thanks you all.
by Joan Leotta

Driving North on I-95 in March During the Pandemic—Thank you to Everyone Along the Way, Thank you to the Workers Who Made Her Move Possible in the time of Covid.

Dogwood, redbud, already bloomed where we live in North Carolina,
now pop out from between leaf buds of their deciduous brethren in the more oaken than pine forests of Virginia as we glide north on an almost empty asphalt ribbon. Usually packed with cars and trucks, now only the occasional vehicle passes, and we hope that gas stations and state visitor centers are open for the necessities, gasoline, and rest stops. Lunch is packed this time to eat in the car as we drive up to help our daughter transition from her condo to a newly built townhouse.

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Arriving, we bear witness with her the empty streets in Washington, closed stores, restricted hours, and help her balance on the emotional tightrope of possible closure and the need to leave her old house to transfer her goods, to make a new place her home. Will cable be able to connect so she can work from home? Will the movers be considered “essential?”

Amid all that uncertainty, we, her parents, bring the spring of certainty that whatever else has changed, whatever strictures, sadnesses that Covid carries, she has our love and will survive any storm and that she will surely bloom.

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Yes, the workers were allowed to finish the construction, bankers met, movers came on time, garage door was installed, cable was connected, and we were able celebrate with dinner in her new home. We stood at the window, looked out, and raised a glass to thank them all, although we could not invite them in.

Graphic by BilltheCat, used by permission. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: When she is not playing with words on page or stage, Joan Leotta loves nothing more than sitting at table or walking the beach, laughing and talking with family. She spins poems, articles, essays, short stories, and performance pieces most often around her core interests—food, family, nature, travel, and strong women. Her poetry books include  Languid Lusciousness with Lemon (Finishing Line Press), Nature’s Gifts from Stanzaic Stylings (free online), and a mini-book from origami poems (free, but also printable). Another short collection will be released by Origami in 2020. Visit her at joanleotta.wordpress.com and on Facebook.

PHOTO: The author (left) with daughter Jennie and husband Joe.

HILBERT 1
Dad’s Lunch Box
by Donna Hilbert

Dad climbs down
the telephone pole,
stretches out under a pepper tree,
opens his lunch box:
black metal,
substantial like a vault,
or a government building
in a Balkan country.
Under its dome
wire arms hold
a Thermos of coffee.
On the bottom floor,
Vienna sausages on a bed
of mayonnaise, white bread.
For dessert, butterscotch
cream-center cookies.
Dad unwraps a sandwich, eats.
He pours coffee into the cup
his Thermos lid makes,
dips a cookie, watches it bloat,
then holds his lips to the rim,
slips the sweet bits
into his mouth.
I like to think
he savors pleasure
before he stands the box on one end,
touches a forefinger to his tongue,
his damp fingertip
gleaning crumbs
to feed the sparrows who wait
in slender leaves.
Then, one foot
over the other,
he climbs the pole again.

Originally appeared in Traveler in Paradise (PEARL Editions, 2004).

PHOTO: The author’s parents, Pollyanna and Don Bruster, during the mid-1960s.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My mom and dad spent their entire working lives in what in this pandemic time would be considered essential services: Mom as a postal clerk and Dad as a telephone lineman. If they were working today, they would be masked and working for the common good as they did on every workday of their lives.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems (Tebot Bach, 2018). She is a monthly contributing writer to the on-line journal Verse-Virtual. Her work has appeared numerous publications including Rattle, The Los Angeles Times, Braided Way, Chiron Review, A Year of Being Here, Cultural Weekly, Sheila Na Gig, Zocalo Public Square, and is widely anthologized. She writes and leads private workshops in Southern California, where she makes her home. Visit her Amazon author page, find her on Facebook and at her website, donnahilbert.com.

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Masks and Mothers
by Mary Langer Thompson

I don my mask this Mother’s Day
to deliver flowers to my aging-in-place
already aged mom through the garage door
of her Sun City home where
she’s isolated and can see no sun
or city and waits on the laundry porch
wearing her protection that I brought her yesterday.

I race home to wave at my muzzled son
through my window. I can’t let him in
because his dad is sick already.
But then I decide to see him in the flesh,
so fling open the door, whereupon
he lifts his foot to show his “Call Mom” socks
then runs to leave toilet paper and an orchid
on the side of the house.

We’re sequestering looking surreal
with dark circles under our eyes and punked hair,
like that muffled Tape Man of Las Vegas,
while we silently mime truths of love.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Who would think like could be so hectic while sequestering? Mary Langer Thompson is a retired school principal and former English teacher who now writes full time. In 2012, she was the Senior Poet Laureate of California. She leads The Poemsmiths, a poetry critique group that meets bi-weekly, currently on Zoom.

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Trying to Keep My Father Safe in the Time of Covid-19
by Gail Goepfert

At 97, hasn’t he survived it all.
Rolled all the dice. Laid it all on the line.

World War II. Battle of the Bulge.
Baths taken from his helmet in foxholes.

Reckless teen years of three children.
Gallbladder, sinus, cataract surgery.

Job loss and transfers. Debt.
Widowhood. Late-stage cerebral fog.

He functions but totters now      shuffles—
too many falls of late. His knees buckle.

I caution, then will him not to try the stairs—
picture him in isolation, a hospital casualty.

No more Wal-mart, Dad. No more. I hear
myself beg. I fear he can’t master mask

and gloves, cart and cane. Or remember
not to rub his cloudy eyes, his drippy nose.

We delay the lawyer will-signing—put off
planning for demise for fear of dying.

PAINTING: “Crepuscular Old Man” by Salvador Dali (1917-1918).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gail Goepfert, an associate editor at RHINO Poetry, is the author of three books—A Mind on Pain (Finishing Line Press), Tapping Roots (Kelsay Books), and Get Up Said the World appearing in 2020 (Červená Barva Press). Recent publications include Journal of Compressed Arts, Bluestem, Rogue Agent, and Beloit Poetry Journal.Visit her at gailgoepfert.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

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Finders Keepers
by Erin K. Parker

I found the ring on the ground next to the entrance to the miniature golf course. Gasping in surprise, I bent down to pick it up, and held it up to my dad. He took it between his fingers and smiled.

“It’s pretty!” he said, and handed it back to me.

The ring was silver and had a knot etched on the top. I slipped it on to my first finger, and it fit perfectly. I’d never had a ring before.

“Well, look at that!” my dad said. “It’s your lucky day.”

“Aren’t we supposed to turn it in?” I reluctantly asked, already feeling the loss.

“No, why would you do that? Finders, keepers,” he said, winking.

I kept the ring on all day while we shot bright golf balls through windmills and over small bridges. The sun was bright and we were smiling. When I picked up my yellow golf ball, the ring clacked against the hard plastic. I stood up straighter, laughed louder, and felt special. I had a new ring.

Later, I pushed the thoughts of the girl who had lost the ring out of my head, and told anyone who would listen that my dad gave me the ring as a present. Not for my birthday or anything, but just because he saw it and knew I would like it. Because he loved me and wanted me to have something pretty.

I told the story so often that I started to believe it.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: A ring that looks like the one I found that day.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At some point I started to hate that ring and I stopped wearing it. The guilt of not turning it in caught up to me, and it became a constant reminder of my dad’s emotional distance. I am not sure what happened to it, but I no longer have it. I’d like to think someone else found it and it brought them joy.

PHOTO: The author at age nine.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Erin K. Parker
won her first Creative Writing contest when she was 11, and has been writing ever since. Her work has been published by Uno Kudo, Red Fez, Drunk Monkeys, Cadence Collective, Lost in Thought, Timid Pirate Publishing, The Altar Collective, Santa Fe Lit Review, Lucid Moose Lit, and the Alice in Wonderland Anthology from Silver Birch Press. Erin was nominated for Best of the Net 2014. Her collection of short stories, The Secret and the Sacred, was published by Unknown Press and is available at Amazon.com.

My Life Force
by Vincent Van Ross

My prized possession
Is not the gold chain
I wear around my neck
Nor is it my collection of gems

My prized possession
Is not the sculptures and paintings
I have collected
Over the years

My prized possession
Is not the money
I have in my cash box
Or in my bank account

My prized possession
Is not my house or my car
Nor even the thousands of books
I have in my collection

My prized possessions
Are two frames
That hang from the walls
Of my living room

My prized possessions
Are the two pictures
Of my mother and my father
In those two frames

My mother and father
May not be with me anymore
But, they bless me from that wall
They are my life force which keeps me going

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My father A Van Ross (left) and mother Treasa Van Ross (right).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I lost my mother in 2001 and my father in 2015. But, they are still alive to me. I feel their presence in their photos that are hanging from my living room walls. I still kiss them and seek their blessings every time I leave my home as I used to do when they were alive. I feel as if they are peeping out of those pictures and keeping a watch over me and blessing me all the time.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vincent Van Ross is a journalist and editor based at New Delhi, India. He writes on national and international politics, defense, environment, travel, spirituality, and scores of other topics. Apart from this, he dabbles in a little bit of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and humorous writings. Vincent’s articles and features have appeared in over a dozen newspapers and magazines in India and Bangladesh. He is also a renowned photographer and an art critic. His poems are littered in anthologies and journals across the world and on numerous poetry sites and facebook groups on the web.