#422 – THAT SAID …

Words said to children may be healing, or harmful. Inspiring or spirit-squelching. Today, we have three options to inspire our poems:

1. A memory of something said to you when you were a child
2. Something you’ve overheard said to a child
3. Words you’ve said to a child

Choose one or more, and share your words with us. We look forward to being inspired by you, as always.


Marie’s Poem


Eleven

Mature well beyond her years and big for her age, she is not a girly girl.  She looks very much young adult, and is sometimes mistaken as such.  Those her age can’t relate to her, nor she to them. Yet in the midst, her kindness for all, shines. Her laughter comes easily.  She faces young adult assumptions, expectations, misperceptions, and uncertainties.  She seeks clothing and hair styles in an effort to make her more comfortable in her own skin.  Today, we are at her Christmas-gift hair appointment. Appointment complete, her stylist says, “Pretty.  What do you think?”

Eyes in mirror smile
while unexpected soft voice
slips, “I am pretty.”

© Marie Elena Good 2023



Walt’s Message

Our youngest daughter came home from Ottawa to visit. The whole family got together for dinner, including my three years old granddaughter Brooklyn. What I will relate to you is not a poem, but a story she relayed to me. She climbed up on my knee and very seriously she said:

“Poppi? (Me)
My Papa died. (Her other grandfather)
He fell down and hurt his head.
He was in the hospital
and he’s an angel now.
He watches me.
That makes me happy and sad.
I miss him.
I sit in his chair because he doesn’t sit there any more.”

She paused and looked up at me.
“Poppi…?
Don’t die.
You can watch me from your chair.”

The tables were turned.
She provided the words of wisdom.
From the mouths of babes…

I promised myself to live for her until the day I do die.
So far, so good.

***

Her grandfather Michael was a casualty of the Blizzard of 2022. What she understands amazes me.

100 thoughts on “#422 – THAT SAID …

  1. “Stop crying, before I really
    give you something to cry about.”

    That was the angered old mantra
    of a single mother dangling,
    by a strand of thread.

    Stop crying—as if the pain
    already inflicted, wasn’t worthy
    of tears is what she said.

    Perhaps the multitude of fears,
    viper’s stings from momma’s belt,
    were all in my head?

    But that was momma.
    A tougher-than-nails Ol’ bird who could
    no longer fly.

    Perhaps she suffered wounds
    as a child, that clipped her wings,
    and she knew why?

    Perhaps, momma just passed along
    the family’s heritage of scars—
    we bear them now.

    ©️Benjamin Thomas

  2. It’s been a really rough week. That’s not poetic. It just is.

    Last Words on My Last Day

    Before the class I stood
    I knew it was the last moments
    Of my very last day
    Did they?

    With a heart full of pain
    And tears flowing free
    I announced
    “Today is my last day.
    I don’t know who intended
    To cause me physical harm
    But let me clearly say,
    You are deeply loved.
    You have value.
    I forgive you.
    I am praying for you
    That one day
    You find Jesus.”

    I spoke a lie
    I knew who he was
    I’ve prayed for him
    Everyday
    Since Tuesday
    Asking Jesus to heal him
    To take his hurt away
    To give him ears to hear
    A heart to understand
    The love of the Man
    Who died and rose again.

  3. Marie, and Walt… marvelous responses to a challenging prompt. Marie, your pretty angel speaks a beautiful truth we all must see. Walt, your grandchild’s plea resounds with the essence of love, “stay with me!”
    Certainly, poetry is a canyon in which the love of life echoes from heart to tongue to ear to heart and back again.

  4. SEVENLING WISHES AND SWISHES

    When I was a kid and was cooped up inside,
    I wished for some pals in whom to confide
    or a trip to the White House with Ike as a guide

    or driving a car with two-speed Powerglide
    with the girl from next door, who’d become my dear bride.
    But then I’d remember, as Dad used to chide:

    “If wishes were horses, beggars could ride.”

  5. A Question

    I don’t know why
    my oldest sister said it,
    what I did
    at about eight years old
    or what the situation was.
    But she said it.
    “Where is your common sense?”

    Ever after, those words haunted me
    and I felt I was destined
    to bumble through life
    while my common sense
    had hidden itself
    or packed up and went on vacation.

    Perhaps that’s why
    I’m so hard on myself
    when I do dumb things.
    But I’m learning
    that, like my writing muse,
    common sense comes and goes.
    It’s part of the human condition.

  6. Jesus Said

    Children
    I love you all
    as My Father loves you
    so much that I came down to earth
    to bring a message from Him

    Listen
    to what I say
    these words of love and truth
    words that point to eternity
    about the Way, Truth, and Life

    Believe
    and follow Me
    you are not of this world
    your destination is above
    you have but to accept Me

    For proof
    the day will come
    when I am rejected
    I’ll be crucified on a cross
    for all the sins in the world

    Father
    Forgive them all
    They know not what they do
    But one day they will realize
    Hopefully before they pass

    • The pastor of the church we tuned into this morning talked about the awe and wonder of little children, and how Jesus taught we need to be like them. Thank you for this poem.

  7. Grandpa’s Wisdom

    Mama named me after my grandpa
    Then when life turned against her
    And she realized she couldn’t cope
    She accepted Grandpa’s request
    To take me and raise me as his own
    I thank God for mama’s understanding

    For Grandpa was a wise and Godly man
    The example I needed the most at the time
    He was calm, hard working, and manly
    Unlike any adult that had been in my life
    Grandpa was the perfect replacement
    For the father who had abandoned me

    Grandpa taught me how to bait a hook
    When we’d fish off the old iron bridge
    He taught me to respect his .22 Savage
    And hold my breath as I pulled the trigger
    I learned about tools and how to fix things
    And the importance and rewards of hard work

    Grandpa showed me what a man should be
    Respectful and kind and a friend to so many
    He rarely got mad or even slightly upset
    And even in poor health he managed a smile
    But most of all Grandpa loved the Lord
    And I wanted to be just like him

    Grandpa told stories of his younger days
    Growing up during the Great Depression
    The lessons he learned in those poverty days
    He passed on to me through his stories
    Those lessons have helped me be who I am
    And I am thankful that I paid attention

    But while still in my youth Grandpa passed
    Heart attack number three took him away
    But the stories he told and the lessons learned
    Still reside in the creases of my brain
    I’ve tried my best to pass them down the line
    In hopes they help my children through life

  8. Teach Your Children Well

    Don’t hide life’s lessons from your children
    Don’t hold back wisdom that they might need
    Tell them stories of where you came from
    Those stories could help them to succeed

    Don’t be afraid to let them know
    The times you failed throughout the years
    For failure is a necessary evil
    That clears their focus through their tears

    Teach your children that life is crushing
    That they’ll need God in all that they do
    Tell them about the straight and narrow
    And pray for them your whole life through

  9. To a Child Who Asks Why Stars Shine

    They were born of stillness and dreams.
    They shone for you long before you were born.
    They will shine long after you’re gone

    but don’t be afraid-
    they’re looking after you.

    In them your fortunes are told
    as the sun we know
    dances with the moon.

    They scatter
    in darkness,
    and they are more
    than they seem

    but our minds’ eyes
    draw lines between them
    to create archers and horses,
    our heroes in the sky.

    As they burn with passion
    they create all we know-
    the earth, the moon
    endless sky so blue.

    And every night we peer
    deeper and ever deeper
    into the universe’s soul
    infinite stories to behold.

  10. I Hear Echoes

    When holiday lights begin
    to twinkle and shop windows
    glitter with tempting offerings
    carols filtering through grocery aisles

    But I have my own recordings
    filtered through set jaw
    down turned disappointed eyes
    unsmiling face

    go take two straws
    from the manager in the crèche
    on second thought, take three
    the baby will be cold
    at the rate you’re going

    In town I see the life-sized crèche
    in front of the Presbyterian church
    on the square straw strewn
    to cover the drifted snow
    the manager bursting with
    what must be a bale of gold
    straw and my stomach clenches
    legs like jelly as I hear echoes
    of my badness my disrespect
    the specifics still pretty vague
    even now but then it’s mostly
    every time I open my mouth

    so after that one magical year
    before it all went to hell and
    I turned into the whipping boy
    I began to hate
    the whole season and those
    hourly trips to remove straws
    from the tiny empty manager
    stacking the brittle pieces on
    the growing pile
    along side the ancient stable
    where I hoped the sheep and camels
    might bed down and at least
    animals could enjoy it

    so now I leave the family set
    of figurines in its battered box
    where I’ve tried to tape up
    memories, echoes; simply set out
    the tall angel shaped from wood and bronze
    holding her filigree harp
    the slender windblown Madonna
    clutching her baby, its trailing blanket
    no doubt loomed in expectation
    the last figure her carpenter husband
    striding with his staff through the
    mantle of evergreen scented stars
    echoes almost, and yet never, fading.

  11. AIM HIGHER

    compassion
    for my children
    ran strong
    all along
    I wanted them
    to aspire
    to always aim higher
    try
    to fly
    see that sky
    and just keep going
    I’d certainly listen
    glisten at their accomplishments
    but whenever
    they got stuck
    in muck
    lacking any luck
    I’d remind them
    aim higher
    out of the daily
    mire
    nothing too dire
    feel their fire
    and always keep moving
    grooving
    proving
    to themselves
    they could get there
    now that they have
    I can smile
    knowing all the while
    maybe they heard me
    I see
    clearly
    they did aspire
    to aim higher
    and I’m guessing
    that when my time comes
    to go
    they’ll both know
    Mom has also
    aimed high
    touching
    that endless
    ever lasting
    loving
    sky

    (c) Janet Rice Carnahan 2023

  12. Walt and Marie – Howdy from an old straggler. Love your work as always.

    Sticks and Stones

    It was an English grammar assignment in 5th grade. We were to correct the purposely placed mistakes in the workbook’s paragraph about an ill feeling child.
    We had what seemed to be a giant for a teacher, wearing a tent for a dress, who knew her strength and wasn’t afraid to use it. Intimidation was her ruler against a child’s frame of mind. Muddy shoes in the room caused her to snap and you’d soon be dangling from her grip on your shirt at the neck with your head smacking the wall. All the while looking down her throat and smelling her breath as she yelled out your punishment.
    The assignment I carefully finished came back, marked in bold red marker. But what hurt most is when she laughed and said to the entire class; “one of you was so stupid you got this wrong”. The you, was me, and I cowered in shame as the class laughed along. I didn’t know the difference between a cold-chest and a chest-cold. How stupid of me. This redhaired, freckle-faced kid of immigrants. What I really got wrong was the bullies were not just the kids from town that picked on the ones from the country, it was the bullying teacher that never should have been. I learned to hate school and dread school. Mornings I would be sick, until it was too late, and the bus was past. As a child I thought I had been in the wrong. Crazy as it seems, this still haunts my memory. Afraid to speak, to write, to be, a child.
    Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me – is a lie. What is true? Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. (Prov. 16:24)

    • What pain and hurt words cause. This is so well-written I can picture the scene in my mind’s eye.

      And by the way, it’s so good to see you out here again! As I’ve read everyone’s poems regularly (I rarely comment), I’ve wondered what became of you. I always appreciated your poetry.

    • How wonderful to see you here, David!

      What an awful, hurtful experience you describe so painfully. I hate this for you. But here is the reality that warms my heart and points me to our Father: You write. You write gorgeously. You didn’t let this stop you. You use your words in a way that is obviously a gift from God. Wow … praising Him! ❤

  13. At The Clinic

    Clinic setting
    children crying
    waiting room filled.
    A name is called.
    Frightened 4 year-old
    looks at her mother,
    who is chomping noisily
    from a bag of pretzels.
    Mother says, ‘Well get
    your ass in there.
    They called your name,
    didn’t they?’ Knees
    knocking together,
    eyes downcast,
    the little girl
    follows the nurse
    down the hall
    alone.

  14. Childish Thoughts

    So they told me, trying to be kind,
    that my mother, who I’d just seen die,
    was in a better place now,
    not seeing the pain of a youngster’s mind.

    I use that memory to this day,
    speaking to children, always with truth,
    often while kneeling, eye to eye,
    knowing they’ll grasp what I have to say.

    So when a neighbor’s kiddo, smart and tough,
    asked me around the pool about my scars,
    where’d I get them, did they hurt,
    I thought the truth would be enough.

    Mom was embarrassed, let it show,
    but I waved her off, kept explaining,
    until the kiddo saw my memories flowing,
    said thanks, that’s more than I need to know.

  15. Pingback: 23 January: for Fireblossom Wordgarden – It's Still Life

  16. Marie, love your poem for so many reasons. That she sees herself as she is – a gift! ❤️

    Walt, I can’t express the way your poem affected my heart.

  17. I DON’T RECALL THEIR WORDS

    I don’t recall their words—
    but their blunt force trauma
    I know.

    The effect of each savage blow
    still renders the same kind of
    anguish.

    The bruises and indwelling scars
    nobody knows except
    the bearer.

    Like a soul rent, torn in two,
    it slowly mends
    by threads.

    ©️Benjamin Thomas

  18. Who knows what was said
    to a child in the early days when
    they were just clay?

    In the formative years of bright green
    youth; when they were full of sap
    and small impressionable chaps.

    We always know by their finished vessel.
    After they’ve been shaped and fired
    in the unrelenting heat of the kiln.

    It always bears the particular mold
    of the potter who
    made it.

    ©️Benjamin Thomas

  19. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER

    What happens when there are no words,
    but actions that speak much louder?

    When your own flesh and blood speak—
    but with stinging, swinging clenched fists?

    When the use of swift slapping hands
    seize the moment and do not miss.

    And the developing brain is perplexed,
    confused, and says, what is this?

    Is it friend, family, or foe? All the above?
    One or the other? I do not know.

    ©️ Benjamin Thomas

  20. You are a person of value…

    Maybe because there were people,
    Who chose not to value me,
    I chose to say to each child,
    “You are a person of value.”

    It is such a simple statement, but
    Within those words
    Was that I believed their tears mattered,
    And they should be comforted.
    I believed that their smiles
    Brighten my days,
    And that I believed
    Their questions should be heard,
    And when they said,
    “Listen to me.”
    I would listen.

    I believed that their hearts and minds and bodies mattered…
    Not whether society called them names
    That broke their belief that they are valuable,
    Or they were unwanted
    And abandoned alone to face the world.
    I whispered to the babies,
    “Don’t ever forget no matter
    What the world does,
    You are valuable.”

    When a broken six-year-old sat in my lap crying
    For all those people and places
    Had wished her goodbye.
    I held her close and rocked her
    Giving her all the love I had to give,
    Knowing full well my heart would break
    When I had to say goodbye, and
    In a calm voice I said,
    “Remember my words.
    Don’t let anyone take them from you.
    You are a gift and a person of worth.”

    The battered teenage boy
    Had more anger than love-
    Beaten, abandoned, and scared.
    He got in my face and screamed…
    No one cares.
    But I did, and I told him so…
    Still broken as a man
    He sought me out and said,
    “I try to remember the words you said,
    That I was valuable.”
    I told him that he still was.

    A young teen mother,
    Barely making it,
    And living in a rough neighborhood,
    I would stop at her home on my way to work
    And remind her she was a person of value,
    And not to give up.
    She told me as a grandmother.
    Those words took root and she changed her life.
    She thanked me for telling me I could do better
    And believing in her.

    Such simple words
    I said to them.
    It was something
    I felt I must do
    In hopes it would carry them forward
    In the days after I was no longer there.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    January 24, 2023

  21. — A Muttering

    There is no one speaking
    There is no one seeking
    No one living a dare

    Is it enough to stare
    Is it enough to care
    Enough to follow

    Do you feel hollow
    Do you feel shallow
    Feel anything at all

    Get out of the hall
    Get out of the stall
    Out with the people doing

    by Bob Dombroski

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