Poems & Essays

20 Nov

Saturday Morning

Toddlers to Teens No Response

we were out for a haircut and I had taken his hand
and we were walking through the alley between the coffee shop and
the Salvador Market with the smell of trash from a damp green dumpster
and it was his first haircut and I gripped his small unpredictable hand
and there were a couple dozen birds up on a wire and the sidewalk
was lined in long shadows and we went into the barber shop
together because it was his first haircut and they had a special seat
for him and the scissors sounded in taut metal squeaks as the clippings fell
silently to the floor and his small tongue came out to bear the barber’s work
and when it was done they found a piece of licorice in a cup
near a pile of fresh towels placed square on the barber’s white shelf
and the floor was swept clean with a wide flat broom and we went out
and I took his hand again and a shine had come to the windows
of the stores and the shadows on the street had pulled back
a little and we both looked up at the wire and the birds had left
and we walked back into the alley where the morning was disappearing
into the shade between the stores

 

.

 

Henry Crawford is a poet living and writing in the Washington, DC area. His work has appeared in several journals and online publications including Boulevard, Copper Nickel, Folio, Borderline Press and The Offbeat. He was a 2016 nominee for a Pushcart Prize for his poem “The City of Washington” appearing in District Lit. His first collection of poetry, American Software, was published in 2017 by CW Books. His website is HenryCrawfordPoetry.com

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20 Nov

Trying to Convince my Nine-year-old Son to Unplug for a Weekend Getaway

Toddlers to Teens No Response

I get it, you will sit bored at the restaurant while we wait for a table,
be forced to talk with your father about the bushes,

Did you see those bushes?

I did see those bushes!

Wow, those bushes.

True, you might miss an email about your Fantasy Football League draft
or the latest YoBoy PIZZA post on YouTube.

Instead of reaching for my phone,
you will need to think about what to do next.

It will take focus and determination to think about the thoughts in your head,
instead of pushing them away.

But, you never know, you might be surprised or surprise yourself.

You might lie in a hammock with a milkshake in hand, entertain yourself
by looking at the ocean—the actual ocean.

Maybe you’ll see a dolphin leap through the air.

Or say, “hi,” to a kid for the first time, strike up a conversation, make a new friend.

Maybe you’ll feel relaxed and like the strange, new sensation.

You might even start to write a poem, called, “My Stupid Mommy,” about how she won’t let you be on media. How she’s too yelly, too annoying, and too mommy.

And, how she’s right, it does suck.

But, maybe, the hammock’s swing will stick in your head like the toggle of the stick on your X-box, the milkshake’s cold sweetness melting in your mouth like a smooth run, and that ocean,

When did it get so blue?

 

 

 

Chanel Brenner is the author of Vanilla Milk: a memoir told in poems, (Silver Birch Press, 2014), a finalist for the 2016 Independent Book Awards and honorable mention in the 2014 Eric Hoffer awards. Her poems have appeared in New Ohio Review, Poet Lore, Rattle, Cultural Weekly, Muzzle Magazine, and others. Her poem, “July 28th, 2012” won first prize in The Write Place At the Write Time’s contest, judged by Ellen Bass.

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20 Nov

Killing Time

Toddlers to Teens No Response

In time,
the hands of the clock
telling, adding pressure and relieving some
I live.

Watchful, urgent, longing for more.
Clinging to that clock
the one the mouse scampered up and down
Just like me.

My days marked by never enough
and filling each second to the brim
productivity
opportunity
that blaring alarm.

It changes in time.

First at 10:08 when my husband scrawls
the time and “All’s well”
on the hospital dry-erase board.
And labor starts.

And then at 2:41am, a rather unusual time,
in the mysteries of the night
(I will grow to know so well every AM hour
and all its particularities)
a baby is born. My child.

Time does not stop, but I step outside.

At first, thinking,
“At this time, class started.
At this time, I had been working for three hours.
At this time, I went home. Time to myself.”

But eventually (in time) I forget
and time blends.
Chronos into kairos
The specific, the unit becoming rather
a season,
an opportunity,
the fullness of time.

No longer minutes and hours and planning;
Rather, fullness.

The fullness of time, I nurse, I sleep,
I wake.

Pausing to watch him roll over
Sleeping the afternoon away
in damp sheets, his blonde hair curling
from sweat and milk.

There is no clock.
I couldn’t tell you with accuracy
what time his father leaves
(though maybe when he returns).

Night and day merge.

We walk for who knows how long
until we are done
until we are filled
with the fullness of time.

We sit, and at times I’m tempted to count minutes,
to make plans.
to “Hurry up!” (which never actually works).

But it doesn’t matter—it can’t matter as it once did.

Friends come to dinner and stay to fullness.
A birthday is a whole day of celebrating fullness.
The clock speaks only of bedtime
when we pause and sleep to fullness.

We play until we are tired
and filled up like the dandelions
with their bright faces fully in
the sun,
the huge ones he will grow to delight in picking.

We walk with sidewalk chalk in a life-or-death grip
(for this is suddenly what matters!).

Instead of a clock, my days are measured by the sound
of stroller wheels crunching on the sidewalk
and pebbles splashing into the creek.
And yes, in coffee spoons, too.

Peekaboo probably lasts minutes
but can feel so long, so full (sometimes, too full)
that the clock seems to deceive
when it says eight more hours till Daddy comes
and we fill up on dinner
and talk to fullness.

And yet, I mark time, the passage of time,
the fifth day of each month showing me
he is one month older,
I, as a mother, am one month deeper into this new time
I’m further away
from that tiny, perfect newborn
I’m further in
to this thing called motherhood.

When I let it, when I pause and realize that five minutes can be
a long time
or a short time;
a full time
or an empty one,

I am full, too, and did not realize
the dreams filling me up.
I drink deep the life,
can now fully pour out.
hands are full, mind is full.

No longer killing time
seizing it, making the most.

I scamper down the clock,
(and try to stop my mind from scampering frantically back up).
And measure days in
rhythms and seasons
and fullness

of tummies and minds and hearts
and life and one more
beautiful day,
A gift.

Never enough.
Yet somehow just enough
For now. Full.

 

 

Heather Tencza taught English before becoming a mom in 2013, and now she stays home with her two sons and writes in snatches of time. She blogs at http://www.heathertencza.com/ and has been featured on several sites, including Coffee + Crumbs.

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20 Nov

Magnets and Maps

Toddlers to Teens No Response

I consider the magnetism that tethers nearly every mother
to her son, to her daughter. Inside this enchantment,
what of mine is subsumed–what of theirs is squashed if my needs fly free,

once-caged birds rightly, wildly roaming
their destined, unseen migration lines?
Am I in motion, or only imagine that I am?

Once I felt stretched in all directions but forward–
pulled to him, to her, away from my own self,
space, time, and plans by their eager, demanding hands.

Now I see: we move in chaotic concert, orbiting each other
in wavering, wobbling paths, moving towards and away,
crave and resent minutes spent together, a maddening math.

I see now we were always moving, all of us–even me,
but so was the map, creating a falsehood of stillness–
I only thought my feet were stationary.

Now and again we all move parallel, me just ahead
of my tethering two; one a ball of flames licking at my left hand–
the other an undulating stream lapping my right.

And now I see how I move, what I can be:
I am the wind, igniting her flames, skimming his surface,
filling my ears with my own rushing song,

sometimes heard as a roar, sometimes only a whisper.
We hurtle along, magnetically bonded,
unsure the imagined map was ever there.

 

 

Katie Chicquette Adams teaches English at Appleton’s public alternative high school, holding BS and MA degrees in English and history. She is a live storyteller with Storycatchers, Inc. Her work appears or is forthcoming in River + Bay, Mothers Always Write, Heavy Feather Review the radio segment “Soul of the Cities,” and on the Storycatchers blog. She lives in her hometown of Appleton, WI, after more than a decade studying and teaching in Milwaukee.

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