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November 14, 2007


Melissa Garrett

Hi Gwendolen ~ I just added your site to my Google Reader after I discovered your interview at Metropolitan Mama. I've been wanting to read your book for a long time, now. If I don't win her giveaway, I will be sure to buy it myself and include it in one of my book discussion posts.

PS - I would LOVE to abdicate all responsibilities and do nothing but eat Girl Scout cookies, even for just ONE glorious day!

Jessica (aka Rose)

Wow. You do inspire me! ;-) I think this is the first poem I've ever written. I think it smacks of a first ever too! Ha!

Who am I?
A mother
A sister
A friend
A lover

What do I do?
I nurture
I feed
I read
I breed

But what else?
I tease
I tuck
I drive
I scold

What do they need?
The ears
The mouth
The arms
The lap

What do I need?
To write
To laugh
To hug
To be

Who am I?
A mother
A sister
A friend


Being responsible for him had been a part of her identity for so long. It was never a matter of whether or not she wanted to be responsible, or whether or not she liked being responsible. She just was. That was who she was. He was clean. He was fed. He was educated. He was loved. He belonged to her, and she was in control. At least that was how it used to be, back when he was a child.

"How much do you need this time?" she asked.

"Just $25, Mom. I need to buy diapers for Maddy," he responded.

She reached into her canvas purse for her wallet. She pulled on the zipper. It stuck, and then she pulled again. Her wrinkled fingers and wide thumb flipped through what was left of her tips from the night before.

"Here," she offered. She handed him four fives and five ones.

He took the money and looked away.

"Thanks," he said stuffing the bills into the front pocket of his dirty jeans, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

She knew he wasn't going to buy diapers. It will be cigarettes and beer on the counter when he hands her money to the third shift clerk at Speedway.

"Did you call that temp agency today?" she asked.

"No, uh, my phone isn't working right now," he answered.

That's not all that's not working, she thought. "How much do you owe on your phone?"

"Fifty-five," he said.

She looked down at the bills left in her wallet. There were three tens, three fives, and ten ones. She pulled them out, held them in her hand for a moment, and then held them out to him.

"You have to get a job. You have to support your kids. I can't keep doing this," she said as tears welled in her eyes.

"I know. I will, Mom," he answered.

It was the same answer she had heard last time, and the time before, and the time before that. Even so, being responsible for him was embedded in her being, though his choices were now completely out of her control.

Gwendolen Gross

Hello everyone! First--Melissa, thank you SO much. I do hope you enjoy it whenever you read. And mmmmm--which Girl Scout cookies? I was always addicted to thin mints.
Jessica/Rose YOU GO! Really? Your first ever poem? Get yourself a handbook of poetic forms and have at it, girl! You didn't ask for critique, but I can't help myself: if you were to cut all the "A"s in the first stanza, the "I"s in the second--combine the second and third and don't ask the question "But what else", then Fourth: "They need/ears/mouth/arms/lap" and last "I need
to write
and perhaps expand (cutting the "A"s) the last stanza.
But please, ignore all that (can't help it!): your first poem ever? REALLY? Your elementary school teachers should be ashamed they never woke that talent and joy!
Hooray for you!! (and sorry again about the critique--it's just that it's really amazing how you kept it spare and sharp--poetry being best when it has as few extraneous words as possible, and good verbs! You've got 'em! Tease/tuck etc.

Michelle--what rich and difficult material. I'm so impressed by the dialogue. Your clean style makes it all that much more poignant--I'd love to read what happens next!

You all earned your turkey (or tofurkey) dinners!

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