Mother’s Day 2015

Pamela H. Viola

Nance Van Winckel


His mother, and mine too, want us with them in the afterlife. Their end-of-life worry reflects an eternity of missing us. When we say, Guess you’ll have to come find us in the inferno then, we get the deeply steeped frowns under the double set of raised eyebrows.

The past burns off first and fast, next the husks we’d grown—bright, brittle, loudly sparking. Then the serious heat drills in . . . just before the serious smoke of us rises over the city we loved clear to the bitter end.

VIOLApamela_BalanceJannett Highfill 


Walking into the church
the women are covering their head with scarves.
I dig out the muffler
I haven’t lost through nine time zones
because it’s a gift from my mother.
As I take in icons and mosaics,
my hair is covered with royal blue
and golden teddy bears.
not a soul notices or cares
except the woman in the corner
minding the uncertain.

VIOLApamela_HesitanceKaren Craigo

Before He Was Born You Sang Night Songs

When you hear the soft constriction of throat,
so easy to miss, he’s got it. There is something certain
in the latch, firm, parasitic, drawing your nectar
down. Those first days he lives on teaspoons and you
feel fuller, like you could feed anything that aches.
There is nothing on this sphere you won’t pull to you,
won’t sing to in the dark. Let’s call this what it is—
the last moment you are everything, his sweetness
and his sound. He still vibrates with your humming.
Those lullabies you never knew the words to
chime past their making like a singing bowl.


Kristin Berkey-Abbott 

Orpheus Visits the Fertility Clinic

Orpheus considers the frozen
embryos of his dead wife.
Long ago, they preserved possibilities.
and now, he pays the price.

His Catholic faith will not allow
him to dispose of these embryos.
His love of his dead wife won’t allow
him to implant these eggs elsewhere.

Every few years, vowing
to make a decision, he visits
his potential offspring.
He always wavers.

Orpheus returns to regular life,
leaving his embryos in the underworld
of the fertility clinic. All his music
cannot fill that void.

But neither can a motherless
embryo. He cannot retrieve
what he yearns to find
again, the face of his beloved.

VIOLApamela_Paper_DollSusan Yount 

Cliffs Notes: Act One, Scene Four

                 Panope, Phaedra,  Police, Pasiphae

Some stupid bitch Phaedra knows dials 911 when she sees a zombie dragging herself across Phaedra’s lawn. When the police arrive, they discover that it is actually Phaedra’s very soiled and malnourished mother, Pasiphae. Pasiphae doesn’t really exist yet she emits a foul, foul odor. She still tells the police that she escaped through an enchanted window and that her daughter, Phaedra, has withheld her medications, would not allow her to leave and did not bathe or feed her regularly. The household lives off Pasiphae’s pension and social security. 

When questioned, Phaedra denies any of this is happening.

The radio plays Massive Attack, “Pray for Rain.” It is on loop during the entire scene.

The police report states that it is so toxic inside the home that officers’ eyes water and burn. They report that it is difficult to breathe and that trash, animal urine and feces “is strewn everywhere.”

The animals recommend burning down the damned house.

The officers also play trumpets at funerals — I’ve seen them.

It is reported that the mother and daughter are being cared for by the state and that Phaedra is jailed for neglect.


Kelly Cockerham

Clarinet Practice

“No one plays the clarinet the way you play my heart.”

Your music sits lonely,
bent, where it fell and
you tripped, running for the pool.
The folder, soft as old jeans,
frayed at the corners and parting like lips.
Its mute mouth waits for yours. 
Is there a name for this devotion?

It is August, and for no reason,
you pull up a stool, turn the page,
breathe into your instrument. Notes spill out
in uneven rows, chairs tipped, rhythm
tripping over each careless foot.

You gasp after every note that rises
and falls, squeaks on a finger
misplayed, a tongue that slipped the bind
of wind song. Pages turn, you greet

each song, fingers raised like flags,
ready to march. I am still—
silent—eyes lifting to you, heart
beat balanced and tipping
into every stop and start.



As you can see, there are all kinds of mothers and mother-child relationships represented in the poems here. Please visit the solo poetry features of each of these poets by clicking on the poet’s name, as well as the Artist Watch featuring Pamela H. Viola.  And here’s another Mother’s Day at EIL:

Mother’s Day 2014

Pamela H. Viola at EIL