Staying Together for the Kids by Alarie Tennille

For months I dream
of visiting my parents.
The air is not choked

with cigarette smoke, not
charged with recrimination.
No one is hung over.

We laugh, talk, play cards.
We part on good terms.
The next time I take a friend.

“I thought you were dead,”
my friend says.
“We are,” they answer.

“We’re allowed to come back
18 times to help the living,”
explains Mama.

Daddy says, “Sheesh,
I’ve already been back
more than that.”

10 Responses to “Staying Together for the Kids by Alarie Tennille”

  1. Alarie Tennille serves on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place in Kansas City, Missouri. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Margie, Poetry East, ByLine Magazine, English Journal, Coal City Review, and The Mid-America Poetry Review. Alarie’s chapbook, Spiraling into Control, will be published in 2010 by The Lives You Touch Publications.

  2. Donal Mahoney Says:

    This is a fine poem in its own right but it is even better when the reader has had parents, now deceased, alas, similar to those in the poem.

    The poem seems almost like a one-act play that is just beginning.

    You want it to continue with the dialogue sparkling.

  3. A perfect premise for a poem, allowing us to experience the ‘new’ relationship while realizing what came before, and then, as an ending, to realize the personalities haven’t changed that much. Very enjoyablel.

  4. Tina Hacker Says:

    Alarie’s poems always give multiple gifts: the language that is so compact yet so filled with meaning, the unique situations she presents, the questions her poems always leave you with, and the urge to go back and read her work again and again.

  5. wish i could write like that…

  6. Alarie is a poet’s poet. Read her work and find the element of surprise as the line endings / line breaks transport you through conflict and resolution. She writes about the fragility of the human condition, and cat lovers can find her on facebook writing about her experience with the three felines who nuture her day to day living.

  7. Linda Lerner Says:

    Another way of looking at this very interesting poem is that the parents are not actually, literally dead, but the children have left, psychologically disowned them, only in some emergency feel a sudden child’s need to call them back.

  8. Great slant on the parent/’child’ relationship in this poem.

  9. Maryfrances Says:

    Good poem. Fun to read and a great title for the poem. I always felt tied by a long cord no matter where I lived.

  10. nicely done twist at the end…Alarie always keeps me guessing.

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