Archive for the ‘children’ Tag

Everyday Poets 2011   Leave a comment

 

Child 1

Children, flexible in all kinds of ways!  (Photo credit: Tony Trần)

 

As anyone who has read my latest book, Melons and Memory will tell you, my role as a mother is at the very center of my being. More than my roles as a poet, librarian, sister, daughter, wife or friend, I am identified by others as being the mother of my daughter and two sons. The first thought on waking and the last fading off to sleep is how can I improve the lives of my children every day. It’s led to some easy decisions, and to others that were not so easy.

 

 

 

One of those tough decisions was made after my daughter was born. I had suffered from HELPP syndrome, and had had to have an emergency c section as my liver and kidneys began to shut down. She was fine, the healthiest and heaviest of the three, but in the process of giving her life, I almost lost mine. At that point I made the painful decision to have a tubal ligation. While I was still pretty young, I had had three children, I had my girl. The potential for more children was too great a risk to the well being of the children I already had.

 

 

 

Three years later, it’s a decision I’m comfortable with. I see my friends in their pregnancies, hold their infants, and that desire to have another one is no longer there. But in the beginning, it was very difficult to wrap my head around such a permanent decision. So, as I do with all the bumps in my road, I ironed it out with writing.

 

 

 

The poem, “Closing Down the Baby Factory”, was so good, Everyday Poets published it last year, and I’m so glad they did. While the beauty and joys of motherhood are so prevalent in poetry as to almost be cliché, the topic of choosing to let motherhood go rarely gets the airplay it deserves, in poetry or the mainstream media. It’s important that every woman can find herself somewhere in the arts. One of the goals I’ve set for myself in my writing career is to give them that through my own experiences, no matter how sensitive or graphic it might be.

 

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Liquid Imagination   Leave a comment

Decorated gingerbread cookies

Image via Wikipedia

To read the poem Gingerbread Mean, click here

Today, on snow day #2 for this week, my oldest son and niece are making gingersnaps with their grandmother while the younger ones nap. I figure this is a good day to blog about my poem about the dark side of gingerbread men, called Gingerbread Mean, that was just published in Liquid Imagination this week.

Before I go into the story though, just please click the link and check it out, for the artwork alone. It’s pretty good, perhaps the best thing someone has ever put with one of my poems. There have been times in the past I’ve really cringed at the kind of artwork an edtior will choose to put with a poem or short story of mine, but this, I’m really impressed. So please, click the link and check it out. I’ll wait.

 

…….

 

Ok? Seen it? Good. Pretty cool, huh?

Anywho, I love Christmas. I really, really do. I love to give, I’m a giver. And I’ve got a lot of people to give to. But there are times when even the most fanatic of Christmas lovers gets dragged down with all the commercialism, the busyness, the drama that goes into the modern Christmas. Especially one that is in the middle of a divorce.

So, this poem came out of that feeling, of being overwhelmed with Christmas cheer. And, being me, I had to add a dash of creepy anthropomorphism into it, making the gingerbread men feel the burn of the oven.

Think, on this day when most of the country is buried in snowpocalypse. When we’re glued to our tvs, wondering what the Egyptians will do next in an attempt to oust their president. What drags you down now, that at some point in your life you really, truly loved. What changed? Write about it, add a cookie or two for sweetness. Get out of your blizzard coma and write something.

Day 3   Leave a comment

Plate with various land slugs

Image via Wikipedia

Today’s word is torpid, because sluggish is how I feel after running five kids every which a way after work. You’ve got to be so fast, when you finally get to slow down, the hurt catches up to you.

To be honest, it was like pulling teeth just to keep my head up long enough to write a poem. Meh. The novel and short story can wait another day. Or two. Still 27 days left in the month, no?

Xelas   1 comment

 

Middle East

Image by rogiro via Flickr

 

Xelas is gone. It makes me sad, because in 2008 they published one of my favorite poems I ever wrote, “Because This is Not Baghdad“. A short, quiet poem that captures a moment in time, it says a lot in a very small space.  It’s patriotic, with a twist of irony, a headline you’ll never see in the news.

I wrote this poem on a clear October day, three years ago. I had been listening to NPR in the car, the BBC world news broadcast was on, and as I listened to a story of an orphanage blown to bits in Iraq, I watched a man and his daughter walk out of Wal-Mart, lugging pumpkins in their shopping cart. The juxtaposition was perfect, and sad, and it was a good thing I had a notebook handy.

Because Xelas is no more, I’m reprinting the poem here. My hope is that as you carve your pumpkins this year you will appreciate the peace that allows for tradition to go on unchanged in our country, and remember those in our world, both in Iraq and down the street, who cannot afford such luxury.

Because this is Not Baghdad

A man dances his 7 week old daughter
in The Wal Mart parking lot
sunshine freshly peeled
pumpkins bought up the road
in the trunk, still damp
Mama behind her register, 5 minutes to go
rows and rows of bread, no lines
white– whole grain– wheat

The Legendary, 2009   Leave a comment

Grandma's underwear

Image by raldski gimo via Flickr

http://www.downdirtyword.com/authors/helenpeterson.html#tp

The Legendary loves me, and I love the Legendary.  In 2009, they published three flash by me, “The Cheating Kind”, “Goin’ Commando”, and “Missy Lee’s Enlightenment”.

The Cheating Kind, well. It’s four sentences, mostly of dialogue, but I think, I hope, it packs a punch when you read it, similar to the shock to the system the protagonist gets when she realizes she is, indeed, married to the cheating kind.

Goin Commando is a Baby Girl story, but instead of the younger, sassy, middle aged Baby Girl, we get to meet the Grandma Baby Girl. It was fun, trying to imagine this character I had created initially in her twenties, then wrote about again in her forties, turn sixty and become Maw-Maw. The story I adapted from something my sister did at the age of five, not me. Honest. I swear.

And Missy Lee owes her name to a good friend of mine with the last name of Lee. Sassy, Southern, and comfortable in her skin. Her actions, however, stem from autobiographical frustration I had with a previous relationship. The beauty of being a writer is, you can write out the things in your life you don’t understand until they begin to make sense.  You can harness your anger and create with it, birthing characters that may reach out to others in your position, give them hope and allow them to see the beauty in themselves.

The Shine Journal   Leave a comment

Baby eating baby food (blended green beans)

Image via Wikipedia

http://www.theshinejournal.com/petersonhelen.htm

The Shine Journal published a story of mine last month called “Baby Love“. The story is based upon experiences I’ve had with all three of my children, but was written when all I had was my oldest, who is now 12. As a baby, wherever we went people would be offering him gum, candy, stopping us in the middle of the supermarket to goo-goo at him. What was funny was usually the offered treat was completely inappropriate for an infant without a single tooth.

Because this was my reality for so long, grocery shopping trips that would take me five minutes alone taking 30 minutes or more, I had to write about it. I did. however, give it a little twist, thinking about how the adult behind the baby might benefit from all the attention given their little one, and how someone NOT used to having a baby would handle it when an infant is thrust upon them for whatever reason.

What is your reality today? What occurs in your day to day life that is mundane to you, but could be interesting to someone who lives a different kind of life. Switch places with them, use your imagination and write it out.

Poetry Quarterly   Leave a comment

http://poetryquarterly.com/?page_id=7

As summer draws to a close and the weather here in New England begins to cool, I’m eager to look back on poems written about or during the summer time. The poem that Poetry Quarterly published in their Spring edition, “My Children Smell of Sea Salt Air”, is perfect for these high wind chill days, when all you want to do is curl up with a good book under your snuggli with a cup of tea and a bowl of chili. If you’re short a book, Poetry Quarterly also comes in a convenient print edition.

I wrote this poem late in the school year, when I was stuck counting books and calling parents with overdues, getting the library ready for its long summer’s nap. I would come home, hot, sweaty, and over caffeinated, to hear my children talk about the walks they’d taken with their dad on the boardwalk that day. I would gather them up in hugs and just inhale; it was enough to feel the sunshine on their skin to bring me back to myself.

And so, refreshed, I wrote this poem. I come back to it often this time of year, right before I throw on that extra sweater in the morning.

What was your summer like? On a cold night like tonight, journal about all the things you did, how it felt. Use your notes to write a poem, or a short essay, about the experience. It’s guaranteed to chase away the chill, for one night at least.