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August 2, 2012

While my daughter was here visiting with her youngest, we would often sit together on the sofa talking to the baby. Since my daughter is my baby–well, one of them, I would say I am her Mama, she is your Mama. I am your Mama’s Mama.  I started to think about parents and decided to use that as a topic.

I have too many poems about parents to put in one post so the following are a few of my poems that are in some way about parents, a parent, or parenting.

I’ll begin with one I wrote for my daughter when she first became a mother.


falling over the edge
out of this world
time stopping clocks
tips you into forever
the not quite fractiled
mass of stars sliding
slipping from glitter
into auroras
you lose yourself
can’t find where you are

the babe whimpers
tugs you down a line
pulls you back
until you find a way
to open your eyes to your own bed

she is there
lying in your arms
moving her petalled mouth
and you hear her murmur
she  is  sure
your heart   beat
never  stopped
your heart   beat
is the world
she is certain only of that
she has held you tightly
all the time you
were falling over
the edge of the world
and brought you back safely
to cradle
her against your breast


I came across the following poem as I was going through my files, and I thought creating a home is an important aspect of parenting, so I decided to include it.  I wrote it shortly after we made our move to beautiful Humboldt County; if I could live anywhere I wished, it would be here among the lofty coastal redwoods.

These walls
are not flat, geometric planes
do not, with their right angled
joints, create a box
a simple maze of

These walls
are spelled with prayer
have fed on laughter
drunk tears of every vintage
breathe in and out, the up and down
of family, the push and pull
dynamic quest for balance
the lessons of hello, good-by.

These walls
are arms around us
steady us, embrace us
as we grow, begin to glow
with the patina of our years together.
These walls welcome friends
who walk through our door
say: join our song
share our prayers
there is comfort here
rest and shelter
be welcome.
These walls
are not so much a place
as a presence
something we take with us
wherever we move,
hang it with our pictures,
set it by our altar,
where it weaves every note of love
into these walls
fashions them again
into our home.

The next poem could be argued to be more about children than their parent(s).  The punctuation on this is somewhat eclectic. I have belonged to a poetry group where we critique each other’s work, (I highly recommend a group if you write and want to improve your work) and that group has generally taken the position that something should either be fully punctuated or not at all. I often write without any, but there were so many questions in this poem…  Perhaps it would benefit from more consistency in the punctuation, and I may yet do it, but not now.
Where did he go
bright eyed tot
restless explorer
turning curiosity
into why incessant
why, why, yes, but why?
until our ears grew numb–
captured by the possibility
of stars
incipient astronaut
wandering fields
where imagination grew
higher than the tallest grass
what has he become?
Where is she now
baby doll princess
calling to attend her:
friends, relatives
especially Daddy
wound around her fingers
charming her way to center stage
Miss Make-Believe
in pigtails and freckles
held in my heart
as littlest fisherwoman
does she still hold up
diminutive prizes
for applause and photographs?

Where is my baby?
sweet manchild, youngest,
teething on Lego’s, flying
model planes with sound effects
all stolen from brother’s space
tagging after chagrined sister
reporting home
daily from kindergarten:
“Mom, I didn’t get the chair!”
“Rad Reader” drawn by words
to pictures of the mind
creating portraits of his family
as heart people
with smiles as wide as the world


Finally, another that is about parents watching (and worrying) about their kids as they try   to become independent.  It’s been a favorite when I’ve read it at poetry readings.


Someone will walk on the edge of the moon
holding arms out away from the body
stepping one foot carefully
in front
of the other
intent on balance while walking
that precarious sky high line…

No matter how many
helmets we strap on their heads
elbow pads
knee pads
shin guards
sometimes we wish we could wrap them completely
in thick sheets of foam rubber…

Life was never safe–
Girls still bat their eyelashes with laughter
igniting flames near high explosives,
boys dance
amid the highest branches of trees…
They each play at counting coup
seek adventure
a way to test
some measure of themselves
searching for the path that will lead
to walking on the edge of the moon…




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