Tag Archive: Family

November Poem-a-Day: Day 12

Prompt: This week, cold has been sweeping across parts of North America. While the effects of the cold can be seen (whether it’s snow, frost, or puffs of breath), the cold itself is something that cannot be seen–only felt. Cue today’s prompt.

For today’s prompt, write a poem for and/or about something that cannot be seen. I mentioned cold, but there are so many more possibilities, including love, gravity, the future, thoughts, and sound waves. Our lives are filled with things we know exist but which we can’t see.


The ties that bind a family
Or are they really chains?
Invisible but solid still
We’re all born wearing reins

Rebellious marionettes are we
Cursing luck and striking cords
We revolt from our connections
Erasing faith with bitter words

We imagine that we’ve broken free
But our souls still bear the mark
We dance alone with our eternities
And dream of family in the dark

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

November Poem-a-Day: Day 5

Prompt: For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Keep This (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “Keep This a Secret,” “Keep This Letter,” “Keep This Moment,” or “Keep This Poem.”


Keep this with you at all times
I know how you lose things
And even people sometimes
But you need to keep this close.

Fold it up and stick it in your pocket
Wear it on a chain around your neck
Or swallow it whole if you like
Whatever it takes to keep this here.

This is where truth is written
That you matter, you are loved
You are made of stardust and light
And your smile can save the world.

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

July 20


You come to me in memories,
All outstretched arms and sticky smiles
Laughing carelessly, free and sure
Explaining to me in that way you do
Just how things really work in the world,
Stunningly accurate for one so small
Already certain you have something to say
And I listen as I used to do, enraptured,
Thinking about the miracles we are
How making a child seems so simple
Until you see it happen for yourself
How you were once a pink wrinkled thing
Born screaming with hunger and fury
Not even a little bit afraid to live out loud
Demanding everything now now now
How I was putty in your hands
And you shaped me into mother
Letting all the pieces not fitting the image
Fall to the floor like crumbs
Like memories

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

July 17

1405651069Crepe Myrtles

The crepe myrtles of summer are erupting now
Buried in layers of implausible pinks
Offered freely to the bees, who devour madly
And to the hummingbirds, silent and exact

Their branches bend wearily toward the dusty ground
And I worry they will break from the burden
Until I realize that they are mothers too
And they will never break

~ Liesl Dineen

July 16

Dings and scratches

I’m not sure when it happens

At some point you just notice

That the shine is dulling

The smell of newness fading

And suddenly you realize

That the fancy new person

You brought home from the store

Is really not so new or fancy anymore

Under the thinning coat of wax

You recognize the signs of wear

Flaws beneath the surface

Every time you notice this

You decide again

That the dings and scratches

Add to the experience

Of the reality of things

Or you decide not to see them

While you buff and polish

Or you decide it’s time

To go shopping again

~Liesl Dineen 2014

July 9


The child held me hostage
With razor blades and pills
Blades pressed to her own flesh
Pills swelling in her own stomach

A wise man told me long ago
Do not cut off your nose to spite your face
And I let go of my nose, or blades and pills
And walked into my own life, free

Until the child discovered rage
Like an archeologist in the dirt
Believing she was first to find satisfaction
In cutting off her nose, or cutting off her mother

I don’t know what it’s like
To lose my nose in battle
I can only hope with a mother’s heart
That it doesn’t hurt too much

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

The face of Bo


This is the story all about how our lives got flipped-turned upside down… It has nothing really to do with Doctor Who, except you gotta admit, it’s a cool coincidence. The Face of Boe on Doctor Who isn’t what you’d call pretty, but oh so interesting and full of wisdom and stories and stuff. And spoilers, but you can Google that stuff. The face of Bo is pretty darn interesting itself, and yes, wise as well.

Anyway, Bo, the dog that is, came to live with us “for a week or so” a couple of months ago. My friend Nicole is a dog-fostering wonder, but she had something like five dogs in her house at the time, and needed a hand you see. Truth is, I’d seen this dog’s picture, and sort of fell for him. I’m a sucker for a hard-luck story. Bo had been in the shelter for a while, and the staff adored him, but nobody would even consider him because of his face. He had a skin condition as a pup, lots of Prednisone and stuff, and his face is full of scars. I call it character. Some people assumed he was a fighting dog, which is laughable once you meet him. But even when the staff at the Franklin County shelter told people this was the best dog for them, they wanted no part of the little guy (okay, “little” is relative, he’s about 50lbs now, but short).

John and I (my husband John, the bass player for the Stone Age Romeos and dog fanatic), well we’d been sort of planning to maybe foster a dog or so in August. His son is going off to college, and we figured it’d be less chaotic that way. Still, that face… So I posted that sweet face on my Facebook (which, you know, is where you should post faces, right?), and nobody adopted him even though he was on Death Row and so sweet! Then Nic asked for a volunteer to take him for a week while she cleared her house of some dogs (she is fast at getting them good homes!). We knew this was all part of her evil plan to drag us into the foster world, but oooh, that FACE! We filled out paperwork with 2PawsUp, a great foster organization in the Raleigh area, and got ready for our week of Bo.

At the pound, John texted me pictures of the dog on his lap. I was at work, wishing I was there, but I knew he was in love. I’ve seen that look before. He brought Bo home to our two dogs, and realized that the one little problem (Bo was NOT neutered!) was not so little… Bo was pretty fond of sniffing our female hound doggie Misha, and while she was thrilled to have a new playmate, this did not go over well with her Alpha self. There was also the spraying our door-frame thing, which, you know, is at least better with dogs than cats, but still not a pleasant habit. At our urging, his surgery was scheduled within days. We prayed this would fix the few trouble spots, because he really is a super sweet dog!

And hooray! His sniffing/humping problem went away almost entirely, and in a day or two he was romping with Misha in his Cone of Shame, happy as, well, happy as a dog rescued from Death Row could be I suppose! Anyway, Nicole stayed in close touch, and gave me great advice on how to “whore him out” to potential owners. We took him everywhere, and I told his story many times, and people loved him, but they never called. I brought him to an adoption event for foster dogs, but everyone there was fostering or full already it seemed, serious dog people tend to do that…

Anyway, John and I have one of those relationships where neither of us wants to be the boss, so we end up waiting for the other one to say something, and we try to be agreeable but we end up bickering over those weird gaps in conversations. It’s pretty normal from what I see out there. So we’d have these conversations…

Me: So… I mean, he really is a great dog. What if…
John: I know, he’s so awesome. But if we kept him, we couldn’t save any other dogs. I want to save all the dogs I can.
Me: Sigh. I know, you’re right. We got into this to help as much as we can.
John: Sigh.  

So yeah, that. Plus the taunting of friends and family who will tell you eagerly they KNEW we were going to keep this dog. I hate you people. No, not really, sheesh. But it did make it hard for two stubborn people to admit “defeat” and just take the damn dog, you know. A week or so ago, we finally managed to admit it to one another out loud, but I knew John was still feeling a little defeated, so I posted this on his Facebook wall:


The Likes poured in, and that was that. And yes, people are still hollering the “I told you so”s at us, but what the heck, they’re right, they really DID tell us so. And John did in fact make this his profile picture, and Bo has a fancy new collar and tag, and hey, a very happy family to go with his glorious face.


July 2

S’mores in Heaven

Long ago, child, do you remember still?
When I was a good mother and we made s’mores
You stabbed each marshmallow, dead-center,
Always careful to get it just right, delighting in your skill
I can still smell those nights, all damp wood and sugar on fire
You couldn’t resist the urge to watch them burn
And hold them, torch-triumphant, in upraised fists of glory
I loved to watch you waving them like power
Your face clenched in victory over the elements of life
A simple bag of sugar can make us into gods
But finally, hungry and ready, you placed your fate into my hands
And asked for golden brown with full faith
You knew, you knew that I was patient, capable and kind
So I took my time, spinning and spinning over glowing embers
While you watched like it was church, silent and still
And when it was finally perfect like the night
You kept vigil as I slid it so carefully, golden and plump
Between graham cracker and chocolate, slowly like a prayer
And when I delivered it safely into your waiting hands
You knew that it was never just about giving you dessert

~ Liesl Dineen 2014



We couldn’t really be much more different and still be nice people

You carry everything inside and I’m, quite literally, an open book
But who you are shows to me clearly if I pay attention to the right things
The way you care for the dogs with love, and sugar-talk, and frequent baths
The coffee you make and pour for me before I leave for work every day
Even the way you worry with a wrinkled forehead, the look I often mistake for anger
Four years ago I promised you I would indeed screw up often, and I have
And I promised to keep trying harder when that happens, and I am
When I’ve tried to break this vow, you’ve called me out and called me back
And I’m never sorry for trying, only for failing and falling like I do
So thank you for making me walk the walk, and reminding me to stop and think
And thank you for loving me in spite of the excuses I keep giving you to stop


Day Nineteen


3205899Today’s prompt over at napowrimo.net was to pick an unusual seashell name from a list and use it as inspiration (and in the poem). I chose Unequal Bittersweet, bittersweets being clams from what I can gather on the Internet, and readily found on the Carolina coast I like to visit. And the name itself is poetry, isn’t it?

I’ve been missing the beach, because it really is where I learned to breathe. And so I took a somewhat spiritual walk today.




Unequal Bittersweet

She walks deliberately
Where water meets sand
Leaving behind bare footprints
Which disappear in seconds
Her jeans rolled up but damp
She’s never been good at resisting waves
It’s home, the beach, her heart’s habitat
This is where she learned to really breathe
The belly breath of ocean rhythms
She follows the shoreline
Looking at the washed up shells
And sometimes picks one up
Her gritty fingers polishing whorls and curves
But she releases all of them in time
Apologizing silently as she lets them fall
Remembering little hands
Carrying white handled plastic pails
That filled quickly with the most ‘mazing shells
Each a greater treasure than the last
She brought them home, every one
Souvenirs of time and place
Metamorphosed now to artifacts on shelves
Unequal bittersweet remembrances
And as she combs the past she knows
That she is becoming seashell
Losing vital soft insides
And destined before long
To lie hardened on the sand and wonder
If anyone will ever pick her up again

~Liesl Dineen 2014



1397834658I wrote this poem a few weeks ago, so I can’t use it in the NaPoWriMo stuff. But in honor of a birthday yesterday, my child’s 14th, I’m putting it here. I know we all have our own paths, and I know I can’t fix things for everyone. I’m lucky if I can fix myself.

I also know that I can’t control the earth, or make it split under our feet. Or heal it, not alone. I can only keep moving, and hope we keep going on our own paths in better directions, and that they meet again sometime soon.




We backed away
as the earth tore itself apart
creating a chasm
wide enough for us to see
into the fire that always rages
under cool green grass
and soft brown dirt.

Reach out to me
I cried through the flames
I can get you through.
You looked across at me,
your tilted head
and sad brown eyes
telling me no, you can’t.

I’m sure there was noise
an uproar of splitting earth
but all I could hear then
was the rushing sound
of my world blowing away,
the sound of knowing
you were out of reach.

~Liesl Dineen 2014

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