the poetry knook, the poetry of stephen m. james

Poems with the tag ‘children’

Something’s in the water

(A meditation for Mother’s Day and Christmas)

“Something’s in the water.” Chuckles surround.
“I’m due. Get ‘em out with spicy Thai.”
Down in straps infants spit-up over shoulder and lapse
the recurring flow–before nine and after one,
suckling two, singled out, like the single ones so few
within the stained. Glass. Body–broken.
Created to create, duty to do, should we adopt, a different view?
Turn a cheek when asked if trying instead of
shoving our Brothers and Sisters, sighing:

A gleam in God’s eye, a moat in mine.
Doused at a shower: games and pastel flower
present from the eye, a tear, ducks out early dashing hope
upon the rocks by Babylonian stream, the placenta’s quite salty,
but ’tis sweeter than bare melancholy.

Christened: yet another granny or grandpa’s claim,
last week’s was not averse to holy, genocidal names–
ache and money enough can get triple the glow, the pound,
the flesh, the ounce add up every week, you know, weighing down,
C-cups runneth over to nursery wants ten more
fingers, ten more toes, to fight the battle
in the basement of babies booming below.

Impregnated with fertility in winter–in spring:
proud pistils sing standing up theirs in-carnations
on Sunday two of–May the un-mothered run away.
But no matter the year, we worship a child in the end:
bowing to our cherubs in bathrobes, tiny babes in bulletin,
sliding through choruses on the backs of asses to Bethlehem.

For God so loved the world that he sent an advent series
every year to remind the shepherdess, in her barren fields,
to treasure up these things and ponder them.


Goodbye Owingsville (’92), Goodbye Elementary (’94), Goodbye School (’05)

He knew others had to talk first,
had to make their move, watch his eyes
ask how he did his tricks:
slid the slide, swung the swing, how he’d fly,

He knew from his backyard porch and oak tree perch, he’d spy
them and play till supper, till dark,
they were here for T-ball, PTO, parents working late,
it was his ground, his yard, his park,

He knew how to spin, to start
the small merry-go-round,
to make you sick,
lean out, legs bound,

He knew which swing chains sound
squeak or sat high enough to glide
left jaundiced palms,
had uneven sides,

He knew where in the rocket ship tree to ride,
to hide under the trailers of special ed,
dragons guarded dungeons
and climbed the web without being wounded,

He knew that jungle gyms were more than houses founded
for girls to fix supper in or teach school,
Gary was a shorter, but stronger bully,
and one always jumps the tile cracks in school

He knew which gutter spout to climb to the roof,
teachers’ kids just played basketball,
rocks were rubies and gold,
the seriousness of his mom’s third supper call.


Family heirlooms

The kitchen chairs slowly turn to face the TV,
and the parents quit asking (even during commercials)
but want to know more then ever–
hoping to be a friend,
afraid to rebuke, terrified to be rebuked,
as if respect and obedience aren’t
parent and child:
family heirlooms in the hands of the childless.


Don’t stop breathing

Don’t stop dancing–
falling down stairs
in a one story ranch house.
Don’t stop breathing child–
the violent blue will return
to skin, violently healing.
Broken is the mind and swollen
the fingers around a rock
fighting for focus away
from a mind, four times as old.
Cold are the roads away from any Father
that chases.


This thawing day

How long till You all come back again?

the defrosting trees toss glass upon the concrete cracks,
as the campus grounds liberate themselves, from their snowy mounds
from which I was once hiding away, before this thawing day,
from the frozen frost below, hostage by the augmented snow
in my fully-furnaced room above, but today is not the spring I love,
and the sun and his nemesis, snow, still waltz window to window
as I glide past the glaring glass, I pause, to reflect, to ask,
“Mother!1, Father!2 When will your children wake up?”
1Mother Earth
2Father God



© 1993-2024 by Stephen M. James.