mother’s day poems | charlie rossitter, ralph murre, donna balfe

13 05 2012

Painting by Mary Cassatt

POETRY DISPATCH No. 373 | May 13, 2012

Mother’s Day Poems

Charlie Rossiter, Ralph Murre, Donna Balfe

my mother, my mountain

standing on you
eyes fixed on far horizons
how could I know
back then
you were there

Charlie Rossiter

it was tricky
the way she loved us
since yardsticks
were routinely
over our backsides

Ralph Murre


You stand between me and the sun,
A gorgeous cloud that casts a chill shadow.
Soon you will be gone.
Wind whipping you into white feathers
The sky swept clean.

I am rock, not water
And do not give way to winds.
But hold fast
Waiting to be drenched
In the milky light of morning.

Donna Balfe

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to everyone for the Mother’s Day poetry that was submitted. Once again both judges were entirely in agreement (almost) as to three favorite poems, as we sifted through all the work (names removed), Both of us picked two of the favorite poems featured above, while the last of the three favorites was the toughest choice, selected from a group of at least four other poems which were equally good, all in the running. Yet…

We weighed again all the factors mentioned in the invitation/description of what constituted a good poem. Finally it came down to the nuts and bolts and spirit of language and words and movement and image–what any poem should attempt to express/suggest in capturing the feeling of the experience.

Once again, many of the poems need just a little fine tuning to find acceptance in online or print publication elsewhere. Others need to be re-thought entirely Work with them.

The only order to the poems printed above is that of a timeline: the order in which they arrived in my computer.

I take a good deal of the blame that some of these poems weren’t better. That too many of them were too close to, if not entirely, narrative prose. That I may have led too many poets astray by the harsh but REAL examples I selected…suggesting, alas, either a verbose vernacular or “I hate my mother” poetry absent a real touch. Not that anger, hate, resentment, etc. aren’t perfectly acceptable subject matter for Mom but—let there be some sense of music to the lines, the language you employ. I wish now I had featured as an example at least one ‘gentler’ poem that was not Hallmark sentimental, yet captured an honest sense of mother. Something perhaps like this: —Norbert Blei

In Memoriam M.K.H. (1911-1984)
by Seamus Heaney

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives—
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.


donna balfe | I thought I had confessed everything…october

23 10 2008

Poetry Dispatch Nr. 255 | October 22, 2008


I Thought I Had Confessed Everything…OCTOBER
by Donna Balfe

October is my best month:
And I’m living it up again in Indiana, driving the back roads,
storing up images for winter, for emergencies, times of tragedy
or sadness, for the final illness—for dying. But in October
I never think about dying. It would be wrong to die in October,
there is so much to do. I’m a kid again with my grown-up
We scour the county in her pick-up, windows down, twanging
songs at the top of our lungs and laughing while we search out
asparagus, teazle, milkweed, cattails, sumac, and bittersweet.
My depression is in remission, and I am the big believer in life.
How long can this present last.

How long can the present last?
The first week in October is like late summer. I’m making
and breaking schedules, going a little crazy trying to categorize,
organize, prioritize, arrange my affairs. I resort to bar graphs
and pie charts…my life is a statistical nightmare. I buy
a Franklin Planner and spend the second week transferring
phone numbers, insurance information. I list blood type, dress
and glove sizes of next of kin, identify special dates
and deadlines. I create the master plan of my life.
David reminds me that we have a computer program
that does it all.

from THE LAST HOUSEWIFE IN AMERICA, Cross+Roads Press, #19, 1997

Donna Balfe | The Last Housewife in America

“…another in the series that will appeal particularly to women… Donna Balfe takes readers through a year of moods, challenges and reflections.” – Harris/ADVOCATE

more on Donna Balfe can be read here…

(out of print) limited number of archived copies only. | 1997

25 Euro incl. shipment world-wide

50 Euro incl. shipment world-wide for a signed copy.

If you are interested in buying this book please go here…

donna balfe | december has me coming an going

10 10 2007


Poetry Dispatch No. 41 | December 21, 2005

DECEMBER Has Me Coming and Going by Donna Balfe

December has me coming and going:
The perpetual Pollyanna of pessimism takes a break, and I come alive
with the advent of Advent. I’ve spent the Christmases of our familyhood
creating traditions I’m still trying to outdo. David is an enthusiastic
Santa—hider of presents, tracker of inventory, official keeper of the
current year’s master list. We’ve saved these lists over the years.
Combined, they represent a significant portion of GNP and the national
debt. We never learned to be frugal. Seduced by galloping inflation
in the 1970s, we came to believe we were rich. We haven’t banked
on the possibility of a rainy day. If it comes, we will drown
in a sea of luxurious memories.

To drown in a sea of luxurious memories:
There are worse things. It’s funny to me that the boys love Christmas
most. Our eldest child is slightly depressed by the holiday; the middle
daughter disenchanted; and the youngest, detached, as if too much
caring would compromise her independence. But our sons are
sponges of the spirit. Snow and secrets, Christmas carols and cookies,
color their world good. Our first son was born a month early on
Christmas Eve, leaving David to prepare the nursery and fly solo as
Santa for two little girls. It was a weird and happy holiday;
exciting and a little melancholy.
I didn’t realize we were so young.

We were very young:
Now we strain to remember individual holidays. Our good fortune is in
what we have escaped, thus far. Friends have taken tragedy and turned
it into strength. We remain untested. People tend to think we are a
happy family—most of the time, we do too. We’ve come to believe in
ourselves. Not much mars our holiday madness. Grievances are set
aside in honor of wholeness and peace. We shop, wrap, bake—bitch a little about the hype and hope for snow. We are only sporadically spiritual.
The religious context of Christmas is tangential to tradition
for most of us, and I am embarrassed to confess my pride
when our family fills an entire pew on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve:
The zenith of anticipation. A pity it passes so quickly. For a few hours,
there is a pleasant pause of readiness with presents wrapped, house
in order, the feast set to go. Now, with Christmas past, the last
week of the year is oddly quiet as the afterglow dims. A sluggish
time of lying around cocooned in new flannel; playing games,
snacking on leftovers, reading, resting up. Finally
growing impatient with the year; wishing it over,
weary of the short days and clutter of its climax,
ready for its exit. It’s time to reset the margins,
invent new headings, fill in the outline
of my new life. December keeps
me coming and going.