Part 2 – childhood & youth


Once Upon a Baby Time

            (for all the refugee children
            who came to America after the war)

I pretend I am a baby,
walk on all fours, see things
I don’t understand, a couch,
a lamp, a new refrigerator.

Later, my hassock seat
is a blue boat in a white ocean,
the waves higher than
the trees in the front yard,
and I think about the lost girl
in the story my father told me:

Why was she in the wrong forest?
Was the girl dark like the children
who live next door in the red house?
Why did the witch spin in her rags,
dance a polka and then fall down?

Later, I look out the window
and see a penny in the grass.
When I go outside to get the penny
it is not there, but when I stand
again at the window, there it is.

I wonder who I will be
in the story my father will tell
when he comes home from the factory
where he makes white string
like the string in my shirt.

Will I be the sister
who runs away, or King Sobieski
riding a blind horse
searching for her
in the yellow mountains?

Later, I bake bread in the TV set
and kiss everything in the house.
The dirt in the flower pot
tastes like chocolate,
the carpet hurts my lips.

Later, I am a rabbit
and a father afraid of stealers,
and I grow wings and fly
to the ceiling above my head.

When I was a child – A piece of music

Picture by Dean Pasch

Poem by John Guzlowski

Music by Sandra Hollstein



Follow me, God of the Dogwood

wind howled the rain sideways, horizontal
when I was young. My father

was gone. I walked, head bowed
into the wind.

Oh the elements when you are a child!
How you love them.

Follow me, god of the dogwood
and god of the rose.

My mother
pulled aside the homespun curtains

and showed me the Milky Way
like a storm against the sky.

Follow me, God of the dogwood
and God of the rose.

Winds of Siberia – A piece of music

Picture by Dean Pasch

Poem by Jane Blue

Music by Timur Iskandarov



Poetry Of Lies

You filled my childhood
With your poetry of lies
But did not let me hear
Your soft good-byes
I was a ragamuffin, a changeling
A gypsy, orphan child
Sweet and shy running wild
The wind and sun they were my song
I did not stay a child for long
My cheeks were roses plucked from stem
My eyes vast pools or dark green gems
I did not stay a child for long
I miss the days you gave me
I can count them one by one
Yet in the web of childhood
I do not regret the things that we have done
You showed me how to brave the world
And not be hurt by sticks and stones
That other people hurled
You taught me lessons
I learned them well
Now I live my life inside a shell
Crack the egg the chicken dies
You filled my childhood
With your poetry of lies
And now there’s no one near to hear
The woman in me cry

Inside Out – A piece of music

Picture by Deborah Scott

Poem by Sharmagne Leland-St. John

Music by Cornelia Pasch



Remembering Youth

Waving goodbye to our virginity
was the best of partings, all be it
a fumble, an awkward cuddle

and my mother catching us
half naked on my bed. With it
went those priestly confessions;

face-to-face lies and penance.
There, among smooth hard rocks
and soft curved dunes, we were free

to sin. Our tidal skin erect not hidden,
sprite in our bones not spite – not yet.
We didn’t spit feathers, we held them

between our teeth and smiled; oozing
with ‘O’, our love for stuffed olives,
cream and white horses. A photograph

keeps you close. Still, when playing
myself, I can bring you closer.

Juices – A piece of music

Picture by Katerina Dramitinou

Poem by Kevin Reid

Music by Dean Pasch


Part 2 Fragments

Easter, Child and The Forest
Only a child could see
the spring coloured forest
in an Easter egg and enter.

Only a child could walk
through its darkest murmurings
and rain of shivery shadows.

And when the night would end,
only a child could gently exit it,
possibility-reshaped and whole.

Roundabouts and grazed knees – A piece of music

Picture by Alexandra Eldridge

Poem by Petra Whiteley

Music by Ben Fisher



In the Sketch

In the sketch, we were four brothers with eleven years stretching between us from eldest to
youngest. We are four brothers. However, the years seem now to have gone slack, compared to
during our broad span of youth. They don’t so much stretch as loosely hold us together. They are
less like distance and more like walls that define a room. Back then, when my oldest brother held
me in his lap, tail-finned cars thrummed through the streets, old Chevys, Fords, Dodges—which
people collect these days, if they can find one. I remember the bricks in the Midwestern walls
radiated newness with their red cast. Their lambency reflected our youth as we sat for the
camera—possibly held by dad, who photographed weddings and Bar Mitzvahs as well as stringing
for the papers. Time shifts though—bricks blacken, promises perish and boys gray. Not then,
though—we still sparkled with the idea of the world. Or, perhaps, I still did, while cringing my eyes
against the sun or the future. That brother’s lap was like a parent’s, protective and warm. That
brother looked out for me, although shade already hooded his eyes when he thought no one saw.
The years between us pulled tight across our family, trying to tie down the bulging, angry secrets
and fallen stairs, ghosts creeping up from the basement and children quietly crying in bed. The
artist friend of my father who drew from the photo hints at the lack of innocence in that brother’s
youth, our youth. Inked lines in place of the photographic silver merge into dark shadows, faces
part night—unromantic youth at its fullest. Almost eleven years later, no, let’s say eleven years
later to the day, dad shot himself, but not with a camera. Mom set her mouth, as though the stone
mason had carved her frown along with the gravestone. And youth, which had never been a
cloudless day, stopped forever. It had already ended for my brothers, who by then lived on their
own. The idea of youth—the idea stopped. The years had always girdled us. The cars had always
been second hand, rust showing in the rocker panels, rumbles foreshadowing holes in the mufflers.
The bricks had always looked dirty. And we were only four brothers with eleven years from
youngest to eldest.

On a roll – A piece of music

Picture by Eric Armitage

Flash fiction by Michael Dickel

Music by Steve Karn



the children will illustrate
the immortals held between
the material and the future
are not willing to negotiate
the children in the color rainbow
the ones with big egos
the ones who remain children
in grown bodies like planets
of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn
try to turn the latch-key
but it is Pierre
the one that said, “I don’t care”
has no idea what he’s saying
but he can be saved with caring
I don’t care, but

have no where to go only
off into this city full of rats
and newspapers, full of second
class services that lead no where
the children that you celebrate
the ones muted
in Jasper John gray
tangled by alphabets
creating a new diction of

I should but I don’t care
the children that celebrate
hopefully it’s not too late for them
try on diversity
try with uncertainty

read Heinrich Hoffmann’s prolific
Stuwwelpeter, where the children
want to suck their thumbs
they still want to be coddled
and coaxed and taught,
becomes a joke, the children
that illustrate with crowds
dreams and strange birds
are leading this destruction
they are being cut off
their fingers are being cut off
they are marginal

Curuy – A piece of music

Picture by Viviana Hinojosa

Poem by Robert Gibbons

Music by Mauricio Venegas-Astorga



The Way We Remember Forgetting

is to keep the carousel in the distance.
Walk toward its mirage of missed youth
until something lifts from the path –
reflections of lamps you leaned into,
mother’s face and a pair of blinking lights –
patching holes in the big top.

And summer would comprehend its long days
flickering between the slats. Clouds disappearing
like memory on the tongue. The wind flaps
the tent mouth and shares a glimpse of snow
leopards making love. No cages for the cats, why?
This is a dream after all and what goes on
in your youth may never repeat.

Sometimes the monster grabs your ankles
from under the theater seat and you’re the only one
left in the dark. But there are times when the corn
bursts from its seed, covered in butter and salt as fine
as moon dust and your hand never reaches
the bottom of the bag. You walk outside in time
to see the milky way is a chalky haze you sketched
once in the park. And that elephant you placed
in the sky, stays put.

You step sure-footed as a carny after the calliope
has played and the streets are washed clean with rain.

The way we remember forgetting – A piece of music

Picture by Dean Pasch

Poem by Lois P. Jones

Music by Sandra Hollstein


One thought on “Part 2 – childhood & youth

  1. Pingback: 53 Fragments: | 53 Fragments

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