Tag Archive: Memories

Sandpaper letters


Sandpaper letters


Do you remember learning the alphabet?

Tracing your tender fingers along the fine-grain sandpaper

carefully glued to the squares of black and white poster board that

I’d cut by hand the best I could, and good enough; I knew some tricks.


I copied the letters from a Montessori book because I wanted

to make them just like the school; the one we left behind

with our friends and your favorite Chuck E Cheese

for the hell-heat of Texas, just in time for everything to fall apart.


I gave them away, the letters, and yes there were numbers, too,

when you were reading well, when it was well past time.

But my fingers recall the dedication, and the knuckle skin lost in the quest

for no sharp edges, convinced your love of language was at stake.


Yes it was overkill; I often mourn my perfectionist’s lost time, but I’m

different now, and even with aching knuckles I can still trace the sharp edges

of my mistakes and the confidence I wore like skin that I would always

be there when you needed me to smooth your edges too.


~ Liesl Dineen 2015



You who hugged me once

Did you notice the gift you left?

How some of you pulled right off, and stayed with me

And as you left I felt you sticking to my skin?


I’ve carried these traces of you

Over long decades or hours

Through fires and catastrophes

Into parties and late nights alone in the dark


And during the times I couldn’t love myself

I clutched my shoulders tight and felt you there

Knowing somehow I’m alive on your skin too

And this might just be the way we live forever


~ Liesl Dineen 2015

When you were a man


When you were two years old, or three

You told the most wonderful stories

About the times way back,

You always said,

When you were a man.

We laughed lightly

Somewhat bewildered by it all

But we listened carefully

For these stories

Your stories

Were clearly magic things.

You spoke with authority

And we knew completely

That in the times way back

When you were a man

You were a good man

And strong and wise.

Well looking at you today full grown

And listening to the things you said

I finally understood

That all of your stories

However strange they seemed

Way back then

Were indisputably true.


~ Liesl Dineen

Day 4.

We should stop hiding

There was once a time when I looked good, like really really good. Like this picture here.00000262

Kinda nice, right? Of course, if you’d have asked me, I’d have said oh yuck, I’m meh at best. And yes, those fake pearls were all the thing in the 80s, so get off my back.

Anyway, blah blah blah, weight happens, and it happened to me. I could tell you it was trauma-related. It was. But then it was just comfortable. And then it was impossible. Also, I had kids, that sure was an extreme thing to do to a body. And bedrests and surgeries, and you get the picture, right?

Oh, no you don’t, because I don’t show those pictures. Well, until now. Because I was going through old stuff today, and found them, and it’s the day after Mother’s Day, and I’m with my kids in these, and I’m just happy being mom.

I never felt good about how I looked, never had the right clothes, never took the time to do anything about it except avoid mirrors. I lost a lot of weight about 10 years ago, and suddenly “Sure I’ll pose for those pictures…” Well, a lot of the weight is back on now, and I hate pictures of myself again. But I’m still posing for them sometimes. I figure I should have *some* proof of a life after all. I’m so glad I have the pictures from the last 8 years with friends and family, so many adventures!

But in my 20s and 30s I spent most of my time hiding from the camera. Apparently my parents weren’t fooled, and took shots anyway. Thank goodness! Because today when I looked at these pictures, I thought, wow, I remember that day, I remember that moment, the things the kids were doing, the books I was reading to them, the clothes, haircuts, all that love love love. And it made me happy. And then I was like, what the hell was I hiding from? Well, I’m glad someone found me. Also, I look gorgeous.

Now please stop hiding your beautiful light from the world! And I’ll keep working on that too.

P.S. Damn, those kids are cute, right?

me nuzzling my son

Sometimes you just gotta nuzzle.

me and my daughter

Oh her eyes!

me and my son laughing big

This kid still cracks me up constantly. <3



me and my son

You could manage to exhaust him into posing…

me and my daughter

MerleFest, camping and music and this cool kid.

very pregnant with my son

Didn’t deliver him for another MONTH!!

me very pregnant and tired

Okay, it wasn’t all delight!

me and my baby girl

She was born intense.

me reading to my girl

We used to negotiate the number of books per bedtime.





Looking forward

Day 27: Write a looking back poem



Looking forward


“I’m looking forward to that.”

I say it all the time.

But when the time comes

to leave my house,

to venture out into the world of people,

I feel my brain fold in on itself

coming up with reasons,

explanations that aren’t quite lies.

And when I’ve missed the party

or the dinner or girls’ night out

I look back for just a moment

and remember looking forward

before I click buttons labeled Join or Maybe

and the countdown begins again.


~ Liesl Dineen 2015

That moment

Day 25: moment poem

That moment

I didn’t know that moment
when I lost all control
and called you a bitch out loud
would last longer
than any of the million moments
when I held you close
and listened with all I had.
I simply didn’t know
just how relative
time really is.

~ Liesl Dineen 2015


Day 23: For today’s prompt, write a historic poem. It could be a poem about a landmark event, specific battle, an era in time, or whatever you consider a historic happening.



On September twelfth, or maybe it was the thirteenth,

My son, who had turned five in May, drew his first two pictures

One was of the towers on fire, people jumping and running

The other was of his toddler sister, fresh forehead gash spouting blood

She had fallen just days before the towers, pushing backwards on a chair

Landing on the corner molding, the blood spreading impossibly fast

It was then I realized that he didn’t know how to dial 911

And that he needed reassurance as much as I needed the operator

To tell me how to use compression with a dishtowel to stop the flow

Something I’d been trained to do and yet couldn’t remember in the moment

She’d screamed through the stitches, lending him a lifelong distrust of hospitals

The memories of her fall repeated for us as much as the loops on CNN

The blood and the falling all mingling into one experience of disaster

And the first realization that as much as he’d always been able to count on me

I simply couldn’t put things back the way they were this time

And we would all have to learn to live with the scars


~ Liesl Dineen 2015

My memories, the truth is out there

Day 20: two prompts, use my __, the __ in the title/theme and write only things you know.

My memories, the truth is out there

This I know through memories
and old poems:
everything got worse for me
when I realized I was sane.

~ Liesl Dineen 2015

Bride is losing weight

Day 19: Write a poem about authority

Bride is losing weight


Reflecting in the mirror
I remember this shape, this softness
Familiar in its returning
Always returning to the softness
After striving to be hard

Wedding dresses lie about their size
And so the shame began or continued
Because my size 12 body pushed
Ever so slightly on a size 18 wedding dress
And nervously I spoke of diets and plans
To the prissy woman with the measuring tape in her hand
As she wrote the words that come back to me so often
When I’m noticing the softness in the mirror

Bride is losing weight.

And when I look now at the pictures of me in that dress
Dancing in sunglasses to Old time rock and roll
I see a beautiful woman who didn’t understand
That she was walking head-first
Into a life where she would never measure up

~ Liesl Dineen 2015


Day 17: Swing poem




When I close my eyes I see her

Right in front of me

She’s moving fast forward

Legs aimed for the high clouds

Piercing them with the determination

That she brought with her at her birth

Every trip backward is gorged in purpose

As she gathers herself tighter

And prepares to hit the sun this time

I wonder now if she still sees

Every trip backward as another chance

I wonder if she ever takes the time

To just remember the back and forths

And feel the air on her face

Filling her with confidence and joy

Or has she forgotten that girl

Lost in the trappings of fifteen

And too busy now for clouds


~ Liesl Dineen 2015

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