Monkeyshines

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“I’m done with this, Mom.”
Well, I am definitely NOT.
This tiny George will stay
On my shelf’s specialest spot.

Clutched in your chubby hand,
He went everywhere that year.
He convinced you to speak monkey
Until the doctor checked your ears.

He was lost and found and lost,
But we never left him behind.
I searched the zoo for a monkey
That was not so easy to find.

He dug dirt with his head,
Stomped dinos with his feet.
He sat at the dinner table
And pretended to loudly eat.

He led armies of animals at war
Across the old orange carpet,
Until the opposing General Giraffe
Fell down the counter escarpment.

He watched himself with you
On those days your nose was runny.
He never failed to laugh at himself.
He was oo-oo-ah-aah funny.

You haven’t carried him for years.
You’d much rather have a phone.
But I will carry the you that did
Here in George’s forever home.


When my son was two, he was in the habit of carrying a plastic animal or two everywhere he went. He was also a huge Curious George fan–so much so that he spoke a mixture of Monkey and English for a long time. His doctor told me that we really needed to encourage English, and I countered that bi-lingualism was all the rage. This little guy was a cake topper I found on Amazon. He’s seen some things, man, but since he only speaks Monkey, we’ll never know.

The things that adventured with your kids have special places, just like their friends steal pieces of your heart later. This little time capsule sits on a shelf where I can see him while I work. The kids may be on to the things that they should be, like ditching mom and dad to hang out at the camp park, or cutting holes in skirts to make “dresses” that are two inches below her navel, but George is happy to remind me of a time when I could sit with a child on my lap and watch a monkey get into shenanigans. Ooo ooo, ah ooo ah AH.

Ps. This is the last day of August! Thanks for hanging out for the poems, some were less bad than others. I really have to get to work on final revisions to my short story compilation, Bitches and Dead People, and I’m six chapters into the sequel to The Tiny Giant, working title “The Hunted Giant.” I’ll continue to update here on any book releases and if the mood strikes me…I might have another poem in me someday. This year was hard, and given that I’ve done this 92 times, I’m going to be satisfied with that for a bit. Probably until next August, when I’ve forgotten how much work it is and convince myself that it’ll be “fun.”

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Toddler Camp

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I will not sleep
I will not eat
I will not put
Shoes on my feet

I will not go
I will not bike
I will not walk
On your dumb hike

I will scream
I will pitch a fuss
Why did you think
This was fun for us?

I’ll wander off
I will eat dirt
Just to spite you
I will get hurt

I will make you
Despair and yell
This outdoor paradise
Is toddler hell


I’ve had several occasions this week to be very glad that my kids are past the toddler stage. I can send them to the playground and assume that they will be in reasonably the same, if dirtier, condition when I retrieve them. Our camp neighbors are not having the same experience. There, but for a few years, go I. Godspeed, camp neighbors.

Back to the F*%#re

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I mean…dam, Marty.

Hey kids! Let’s watch a show–
A movie your dad and I both know.
It’s kid-friendly time-traveling fun,
With a quantum-modified DeLorean!

Imagine my delighted surprise
At the potty-mouth on that McFly.
More education than we bargained for
With that god-damned f$#% capacitor.


I am the last person to get after someone for their language, unless I physically made that person. I firmly believe that there are no bad words, just inappropriate times to use them, but when you’re this many (holds up five fingers), every time is the inappropriate time.

We did not remember the extent or the creativity of the swearing in Back to the Future. Have my kids heard some of it? Sure. Usually not in a sanctioned venue that Mom is encouraging them to be a part of. I told myself afterward that it’s better that they hear it at home. Wait. What? Shit, that isn’t right, is it?

It’s Got a Ring, Thanks Anyway

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poor future suitor
just try to live up to this
prior engagement


Seven and I crafted this gorgeous cocktail ring from a kit. She is very pleased with it, and informed me that if any boy tries to marry her, she can tell them she’s already engaged. Or…just no? That works, too.

Nosleepferu

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I used to sleep every night
With the covers around my neck,
To protect myself from vampires,
Those monsters straight outta heck.

Tasty veins swaddled in safety,
My bedroom door closed tightly,
I slumbered in cozy confidence
All through every nighty-nighty.

Now, at least once a week,
I scream loudly without warning,
As a bedside child scares me awake
Because nothing can wait ’til morning.

I no longer need the blankets.
My door hangs all willy-nilly.
Monsters don’t frighten me anymore,
It’s my kids that scare me silly.


I really did sleep with the covers around my neck right up until we brought home a newborn. At that point, I learned how to fall asleep anywhere, in any position, with or without blankets. The nice thing about newborns is they lack the mobility to sneak up to your bedside and whisper “Mooommmmy” like some little possessed person.

Also…I know that is a huge leap from Nosferatu. *shrug*

Throwing Out a Line

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No matter how many talks I’ve done,
Or how many books I’ve sold,
When I get to kid Q & A
Turns out, I’m ten years old.

They’re skeptical from the start.
It’s a boring talk on how to write?
But then I mention Minecraft
And let them quiz me about Fortnite.

Yes, I like to Imagine Dragons
Both in my ears and on my page.
I’m in Ravenclaw through every sort
Despite my extremely oldish age.

After establishing these credentials,
They lean forward and pay attention.
Instead of someone’s unextraordinary mom,
I become the Mother of Invention.


After I released The Tiny Giant, I did a number of school visits to 4th and 5th grade classrooms. I adore giving this talk, there is always one kid furiously taking notes and one who asks me how much I make. While fielding questions on video games probably takes away from my message a little–it also gives the kids a way to relate to me. You should see how they light up! When I said I’ve been listening to Imagine Dragons lately, the girls in one class actually cheered.

I wouldn’t say anything that wasn’t true, of course. Kids can smell pandering a mile away. It is, however, very helpful to be able to talk Minecraft with them and then hit them with your wisdom on proofreading.

PS. Want me to come talk to your kids in the Portland, OR metro and surrounding areas? Drop me a line here and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

Ask A Poet An Abstract Question…

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“Mom, what is the meaning of life?”
Oh, it depends on which meaning you mean.
Sometimes it’s amorphous, ephemeral, obscure—
Other times it’s the spaces in-between.

I’ve glimpsed it in sunshine and moonlight,
Walked its beat in a graveside procession.
Been smacked by a smile, a laugh, a look,
Lost its trail in shrouding depression.

This question is too complex without context!
I could fill books with the conflicts I’ve had.
Saints and philosophers have failed as I—
“Umm…thanks, Mom, I think I’ll find Dad.”


My kids ask me a lot of questions, big questions, and I do go on. Sometimes I can tell it’s all rushed over them like a gust of wind, barely ruffling their intellectual hair. Other times, we spend an hour talking about cremation or self-respect or kindness, and I feel like I’ve made a little bit of an impression. I think we owe it to them to try, though, even if they won’t get it until they’re adults. Every bit of understanding of the human condition leads to self-awareness. Self-awareness plants the seeds that blossom into empathy, and good grief, do we need more of that.

I also use a great number of words my kids don’t know or understand–yet. How’re they going to learn them if they never hear them? Slap out those five and six-syllable monsters and then define them. It’s hugely entertaining when they work them into conversation later.