Saturday, October 22, 2011

Poetics: playing Mama

Mama
is a game we play
in'a morning

shirt stuffed with a Goodwill animal
birthed to sit my hip

stirring sketti-o's
or ra-men with a wooden spoon

when will it be ready mama
when will it be ready mama

an i tell'em

SHUT'a HELL UP!

real soft so not to wake no one
and we giggle
til the food bubble ta be served
my brother and sister.

an i only take a little
n' read'a want adds
looking for ma' name,

stamp my smoker
tween puffs, jump

DAM, lookit'a time,
get every one us out'a house
ta da school bus, n' close
da door real soft
b'hine

as not ta'
wake no one up.


'specially not mama


Mark Kerstetter is running the pub today over at dVerse.  Doors will open at 3 pm with an'other' very interesting poetry prompt. See you there.

99 comments:

oceangirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

reminding me of my mornings in grade school... :-)

JJRod'z

oceangirl said...

I'll return Brian.

my day in a sentence said...

I kinda didn't get this one. -.-'

Daniel said...

Brian, good morning. A great way to start my day. A little nod. A knowing smile. Blessings to you.

Fireblossom said...

Am correct in concluding that "mama" doesn't wear pearls while dusting?

TechnoBabe said...

Well, dang. What a friggin' life to have to be self sufficient and quiet so as not to wake the mother. Dang.

Ravenblack said...

This is giving me nostalgic feelings, as children, we would roleplay the adults in our lives -- parents, aunts, uncles, teachers, such fun. And real softly because they usually not too far away and would not approve of every behavior copied! :D

Heather said...

this is sad....mamas not around - i love the way you did the dialect!
enjoy your Saturday....!

Valerie said...

I was foolish enough not to read the title first... got it when I went back. Unfortunately, being an only child, I didn't get to play around like this.

Eva Gallant said...

There's a bit of sadness in the knowledge that Mama doesn't get up to see the kids off.

secret agent woman said...

I've worked with families just like this.

Christine said...

My best friend played this every morning, I woke to my Mama opening my curtains, getting my cloths ready, making me breakfast, while she made her own oatmeal by the age of 8 as I waited in her kitchen as she got ready, that was normal for her, she passed it on to her daughter too, memories returned for me here.

hedgewitch said...

Last line is chilling. Doing for yourself is better than waking Mama when presumably, she don wanna be woke. Also, the camaraderie adds some warmth so the whole poem is sadder and more human. Good one bri--and looks like it will be an interesting prompt for sure.

manicddaily said...

Hi Brian, really interesting poem. Terribly sad to me at least, not much of a game. I felt like you really warmed to your voice and subject matter here, where it was less apparent in the beginning and then, of course, becomes very strong. I wasn't sure if that movement was intended or not. On the one hand, the good will animal's a big clue, on the other, maybe not needed?

Great finish.

Very curious about the prompt now. I'm assuming it's another voice, which somehow makes me think of that Browning poem, Not Fra Lippo LIppi? No? Andrea del Sarto? I can't remember it, but will see I guess (and check.)

K.

Laurie Kolp said...

Ha... a delightful poem. I feel very privelaged to have made it to the under 20 comments mark on your blog, Brian! Now you have me wondering what the prompt might be... perhaps dialect?

manicddaily said...

Hi Brian--I actually just looked up Browning and he did both an Andrea del Sarto and Fra Filippo Lippi poem. (My old brain feels gratified.) I like Andrea del Sarto much better. However, the poem I was thinking of was My Last Duchess.

So different from yours, in tone, but that idea of voice is shared, very cool.

Which may not be the prompt at all, I know!

K.

Tabor said...

Such a sad little child. Hope someone takes her under their wing.

kaykuala said...

Brian,
Consideration for an overworked mama Surreptitiously, making it easy for mama, not to wake her up, then off to school. Make believe during childhood days!

Hank

Brian Miller said...

the thought was leaning more in the darker direction, of kids having to sustain themselves...the response by the child in the middle to hint that direction...

Josh Hoyt said...

Great job getting the voice into this one. In the beginning it reminded me of the all state commercial where mayhem is throwing cheerios from the baby seat :)

Magpie said...

Children should get to be children, but God can work some wondrous things with someone who learns so much compassion and responsibility early in life.

Me said...

Wow, in just a few lines, a whole story is told. A very sad story, made sadder by the fact that the kid probably doesn't even know that it is.

Fabulous, the way you get into the child's head. The language of a small child ("stamp my smoker"), the kid's perception of adult actions (reading the want ads)...one of my new favs.

Helen said...

Brian, I would LOVE to hear you read this to us! Reminded me of a psychodrama being played out in therapy.

Ruthiey said...

Funny how kids with abusive parents band together just to survive, but there's even abuse in their gang because that's all they know.

LadyCat said...

Kids make the best of the situation that they are in. They do mimmick what they see. Sadly here, that's not so good. I especially liked the line about looking in the want ads, looking for her name...if only it worked that way.

Teri said...

I have never heard of that game. It seems that others have. I wonder how the children get enough courage to do it every day. Things sound so poor, so empty. Love your choice of voice in this. Fitting!

Sue said...

This is a sad one, Brian, but a good reminder that we all need to be aware of what's going on around us. I just wish there were more we could do, and that CPS were a safer place to fall.

"/

Cheryl said...

Tough to be a kid when parents are there, absently. Beautifully written, Brian.

Anyes said...

Poor children, it must have been rough mornings :-)

tony said...

mama aint got no compass.Tis a shame.Magnetic Prose Brian!

Pat Hatt said...

Sad when they have to sustain themselves as they always miss out on just beind a kid
The fact that they can have a little fun with it though makes it easier not to flip ones lid
But still it would be nice if those types wised the hell up
And didn't get their strenght from the bottom of a bottle or cup

JeannetteLS said...

I felt the darkness, but you know my life by now... To me, it was clear. If one were playing, Mama's waking up before school would not have been that big an issue. The kids would WANT her to wake up and see how good they are!

But it doesn't matter, really, I know. If some people remember PLAY that way, how wonderful. And for those of us who knew the darkness, this hit home in a different way.

And either way it tells a story any reader can find.

Daydreamertoo said...

Awwwww sad, funny, at the same time.

Claudia said...

sad when children not only play mama every once and a while and then "give the spoon back" but actually need to substitute a mama who is just not able to care for them...makes me sad..the good thing is they still have each other.. there were times when i was a kid when i was beyond thankful for my brother (even though that younger brothers can be horribly annoying...smiles)

Mary said...

Really is sad when children have to assume their own parenting responsibilities. Unfortunately, I think there are more than a few families that have a 'life' like this. Thank goodness the kids DO get themselves out the door to school. Doesn't always happen.

Fred said...

NIce piece Brian. Never actually played this game as a kid, but well detailed. The speech is brilliant-you really summoned your inner child here. Great job

rosaria said...

You got a double whammy here, kids playing and dramatizing, and the real story of their 'deal' taking place right before our eyes!

Heaven said...

A sad game to play by the children, when the real mother or father are not around. Enjoyed the cadence and meaning of this poem ~

adeeyoyo said...

That's one way to look in the mirror... let your kids play you and see what you are really like!
:D

zumpoems.com said...

Brian,

Brings back memories of childhood. Very well written and dynamic!

-zumpoems.com Admin.

zongrik said...

I love the vernacular. Luckily, I had a friend over, so I just read it aloud in the first place, which is obviously, the way it was meant to be read. :)

Mark Kerstetter said...

Somehow I'm afraid to see the scene if mama wakes up. You conveyed that trepidation nicely in an oblique way. A guy I know once told me, "I was raised by the cat." Neglect is a sad and serious thing.

wolfsrosebud said...

nice way of getting inside a kid's head...

Nikki Rules said...

You're so playful...

A.Decker said...

Felt too damn familiar. Different scenarios for sure, but I recognise the feeling. Nicely done.

chromapoesy.com said...

I played 'Mama' early in life, though we called her Mother to annoy her. Reminded me of many times home alone as mine left before I awoke. Great response to the persona prompt.

Arron Shilling said...

Excellent persona adoption Brian -

its a tough ask but a good one and you deliver the goods bro!

Victoria said...

Ouch. I'm sure this is a much too common occurence...children raising their siblings. Mama could be the woman I wrote about in my poem...or a colleague. Well written.

Natasha said...

Is there even a mama!? latchkey kids or parentless kids trying to keep the love alive? No matter, an amazing write. This was no challenge to YOU. You are amazing at bringing characters to life, and I still remember in detail your first short I read. That is the power of your talent!

Vicki Lane said...

Sad truths.

Glynn said...

Remidns me of those Depression-era photographs of Walker Evans. Good one, Brian.

Pat said...

So sad, and you tell so much in so few words....

lori said...

I was friends with a little girl who was neglected, and I suppose my mother took awhile to catch on to the fact that the mother hid away sleeping the day away while we played. At four and five, they would eat orange juice concentrate, and climb up on the cabinets to break out cold Spaghettios. Soon, I knew to steer the play to my house. So sad, but too common, I'm afraid.

Unknown Mami said...

Sucks for everyone involved. Reminds me of an incident I witnessed at a McDonald's once. A young mother in silver lame boots with matching silver lame underwear that could be easily seen under her smaller than micro-mini skirt with a beautiful child that was reaching for the toy in his happy meal, she roughly grabs his arm and screams with more anger than I've ever felt, "F@ck, the toy! You betta eat yo meal!" And that kid is supposed to have a chance in life.

KB said...

Lots of kids have to play Mama, it's all very sad.

tinkwelborn said...

cool poem…spoken from one of the children…mama's still sleeping during this Needed time with the children. I can see the penurious atmosphere…unhealthy and unhelpful. and the child is smoking? wow. good job.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"Draw on your skills as an observer, use your experience, your empathy, do some research if you want to. Then write a poem from their point of view by being yourself as that person..."

Hi! Brian...
Which you did perfectly!
Thanks, for sharing your very poetic words again, with a very reflective poem.
I notice from your readers comments that each commenter interpret your poetic words quite differently, but very interesting.

deedee ;-D

Beachanny said...

Very real. It took me to my cousins' house back when we were kids. Their parents both worked late. The oldest girl fixed eggs with ketchup and she was always sister/mama to her brothers. I guess she still is. She had four of her own later on. She sure could make eggs!

Pseudo said...

I like the use of dialect Brian.

MomsJournal said...

It's sad but at least they have each other.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I new a family or two like this growing up. They could never make mama mad or there'd be hell to pay.

Hope your weekend is grand. jj

kshawnedgar said...

What was the voice or dialect you were attempting to convey? Was it sarcastic on the part of the child speaking?

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

Well done. Good job on the dialect and capturing that slice of life.

James Rainsford said...

This possesses an authentic voice with very effective use of dialect and rhythm.

Lorraine said...

so hurtful that children have to become adult before they're teenagers...

Mrsupole said...

A sad but true story being told here. As long as there are so many children being raised by mama's and no daddy's then this will continue to be a common story. And even with so many mom's being forced to work instead of being able to stay home and take care of their kids. Just seems so wrong, so very wrong.

God bless.

kez said...

great story telling ...thank you x

John (@bookdreamer) said...

Good voice with a lot of back story revealed in the actions.

Goofball said...

this is no play right, but a mode of survival :(

happygirl said...

I wish no one would wake this mama.

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

better ta let her sleep it off...

izzy said...

Cool! love it, thanks.

Barbara said...

Good story, Brian.

ccchampagne said...

Again getting in too late for there to be any good superlatives left... I have to agree with ManicDDaily in that the poem gets stronger and clearer towards the end, and to me at least, the sadness of the situation is very clear. Really like the voice you've chosen!

Pauline said...

you never cease to amaze me!

lifeisaroadtrip said...

This is sad and happens all too often. And I bet mama says a lot "What is wrong with kids today?"

Sheila Moore said...

this is really good. Wished you'd give it a read like I did - it was kind of fun to make those accents come to life (as best I could - hubby and daughter are still laughing at it :)

Ginny Brannan said...

Wow, can see this "child" grown too fast, taking over the role of 'mama' and main caregiver. Sad, but true in so many places I'm sure.
Excellent piece Brian, you put us there!

Nancy said...

This one was so sad because it happens.

Zuzana said...

It must be terrible to be a child and feeling that there is no mamma there...
I have been such a bad blogger as of lately dear Brian, simply too little spare time.;) But should be back to writing tomorrow.;))
Hope all is well,
xoxo

Patricia said...

I think it's interesting we both used a dialogue we are all too familiar with based on our work experiences... yours on the young end of sad... and mine on the old end of sad. Hmmm. Brian, I always enjoyed reading your work and thank you for always stopping by. =)

She Writes said...

Sad.

Kitty said...

It's funny to see a guy such as you act womanish, a fun write,
cool take.

Jeff said...

Nicely done, I like the dialect

ayala said...

sad but as always a great write.

Quotes,Photos and a little Poetry said...

I like your accent in this poem. I could actually see the kids going off to school and trying not to wake up their Momma.

PattiKen said...

Oh, this is so sad to me. I suspect Mama is pretty tired after a tough night at "work."

yellowhousecafe said...

a gritty poem, brian, that sticks as good as a can of sketti in one's throat knowing full well that children world over play this game either cuz mama is gone or there is not one. You've such a knack for poems like this.... excellent write ~

(btw, not sure if you saw my comment back, but had wild ginger's food 2x while hangin at triple door..smile)

Jyoti Mishra said...

I really enjoyed mama's play :)
lovely read !!!

SueAnn said...

This actually made me kind of sad! Playing mama and yet mindful not to wake her up!! I would have enjoyed their play acting!!
Hugs
SueAnn

Myrna R. said...

A sad scene. I've known many kids whose moms are so glad they can get their own food and do for themselves. Independence is good but...

robkistner said...

Ironic, you and I each wrote apiece about leaving without waking up mother, but two unique perspectives -- I enjoyed your work here Brian...

voiceoftruelove said...

i imagine this scene in the kitchen along with the drama that sometimes go on. I also kinda like the way of speaking used.

Jannie Funster said...

This one is cool too.

I still like sketti-oes.

And making 'em be quiet so's not to disturb me either.

xo

journeytoepiphany said...

This reminds me of the urban poetry from the '70's.

Lolamouse said...

They play mama all too well. I've seen so many of these kids.

Syd said...

Well, there are two "parents" in the home. Down here that is not the norm. Generally, the mama is there and the daddy is no where around but maybe at the juke joint down the road.

william said...

mate this reminds me of days gone by, and to the person who said they didnt get this? read it again!!