Thursday, November 26, 2020

November 2020 Poetry Challenge - Poems about Babies

Photo from Lisa Morlock

Barbara Eaton, who judged the November Poetry Challenge, picked “Little Again,” by Lisa Morlock as the winning poem. To me, the poem sounds like lyrics for a song; it needs a beautiful melody to match the words. Morlock makes excellent use of repetition, and does a great job of varying the repetition ("a while," "a blink," "a day," etc.).

Little Again

Please let him be little, again.
Just one more dance,
            then I’ll let go his hand.
Let him sleep safely here in my arms,
where I can protect him from all the world’s harms
I’ll change dirty diapers—stay up half the night.
Just let him be little, again.

Please let him be one for a while.
When he learned to walk,
nd to talk, and to smile.
Giggles and laughter filled every room.
Days felt like forever, then ended too soon.
I’ll clean up the messes—kiss every boo.
Just let him be one for a while.

Please let him be two for a day.
I’ll read non-stop stories and promise to play.
Send me the tantrums.
Bring on each tear.
Singing, pretending,
e twirled through that year.
I’ll make more cookies; he’ll lick the spoon.
Just let him be two for a day.

Please let him be three for a blink.
We'd go bug hunting, play boats in the sink.
There were some time outs,
nd some talking back.
And so many kisses that I have lost track.
I’ll wipe off the marker. That playdough will dry.
Just let him be three for a blink.

Please let him be four for a time.
We’ll wear silly costumes,
            sing songs, and share rhymes.
He’ll play in the sandbox.
            Fall off his new bike.
Refuse to eat veggies—he knows what he likes.
Climb every tree. P
lay soccer and tag.
Just let him be four for a time.

Please let him be little, again.
When he loved me most,
And on me did depend.
Let him look sweetly into my eyes.
I promise to be there, the moment he cries.
But he just keeps on growing
            —oh, how the time flies.
Just let him be little, again.

~ Lisa Morlock

Barbara Eaton said, “I chose this poem for first place because it expresses a wish I think all parents have -- that their children would stay little forever.  I know my own mother was happiest when her children were small.  I don't have children myself, but the poet expresses the wish so eloquently, a wish that is both specific and universal.  And the poem fit the assignment so well.


The second-place poem, by Eva Eliav, has a somewhat different take:

the baby has a cold

the baby has a cold
her first cold ever

I hold her against me
stroking her plump warmth

my shoulder aches
I shift her to the other

she spits up a hot stream
of pungent milk

everything I’m wearing
needs to be washed

I’m picturing pellucid seas
in another country

dry paths
like seams of gold

I shift the baby to my lap

she blinks at me
flails her arms
and sneezes lavishly

I feel the fine spray
on my eyes and lips

this morning
I saw the photo of a germ
highly magnified
looking like a bright pink scorpion

I touch her nostrils gently
gesundheit I whisper

~ Eva Eliav

The judge’s comments: “This poem, too, is also both specific and universal.  So many of a baby's "firsts" are recorded in memory, but I found the idea of a baby's first cold fresh and original.  The poet does not mince words about the downside of the cold, but the baby is still lovable and precious and the poem is not without humor. “


In My Arms

In my arms
you’re fast asleep
Soft and sweet and new
Smiling slightly –
Do babies dream?
I hope that yours
come true.
In my arms
so silent now
baby’s breath, a sigh
Oh, the times
imagining this,
imagining you
guess I’m starry-eyed.
they tell me
all ‘round the world
little babies
are being held
exactly like you
So then how can it be
so clear to me
that nobody else
ever felt quite like I do
With you
in my arms
and in my life
nothing is the same
Just for today
all the world’s far away
but soon
it will be at your feet
With you in my life,
I’m complete

Eileen Valentino Flaxman

(Published in author’s collection, What’s Been On My Mind (Amazon, July, 2020)

Barbara Eaton’s comments: “This poem, too, was appropriate for the assignment and combined the specific and the universal.  It is a very nice subject—the thoughts going through one's head while holding a baby.  For the most part, a satisfying poem.  The final rhymes provide a good sense of closure, but might have been more original.  A good poem.”


Congratulations to the three poets whose poems were selected this month. These poets retain rights to their poems.


Check back on December 1 for a new challenge. You might be the winner.



Barbara L. Eaton, born and raised in the Chicagoland area, attended the University of Illinois and University of Maryland. She holds two master's degrees in English, and a Ph.D. in Shakespeare and Medieval Literature. An experienced PT Instructor, she has taught at Joliet Junior College, College of DuPage, and Morton College. Her second grade teacher, Miss Juliana Rotsko, published Barbara's first poem, "What Christmas Means to Me," in the Chicago Daily News. BTW, she says it was an awful poem. A member of the Illinois State Poetry Society, the National Federation of Poetry Societies, and the Academy of American Poets, Barbara facilitates the Lisle Chapter of ISPS. She edited a collection, Sacred Rivers, for poets Carolyn Sibr and Marvin R. Young. Barbara publishes in various literary journals, and also performs her poetry at local venues such as libraries, nursing homes, and coffeehouses. A former member of the Chicago-based group, Poets & Patrons, Barbara chaired their poetry contest for many years. Read her poems

Eva Eliav received a BA in English Lang and Lit from The University of Toronto and completed her studies towards an MA in English and American Literature at the University of Tel Aviv. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in numerous literary journals both online and in print, including Room, The St. Ann’s Review, Emrys Journal, Ilanot Review, Flashquake, The Apple Valley Review, Stand Magazine, The Blue Nib, Horizon Review, Boston Literary Magazine, The Enchanted Conversation, Constellations and Fictive Dream. Her poetry collection, Eve, was published in spring 2019 by Red Bird Chapbooks. She has a poetry chapbook forthcoming from Kelsay Books.

Eileen Valentino Flaxman made her living as an actress and singer until she realized she loved writing more than performing. Since then she has published a memoir, Pieces of Glass: Growing Up Catholic in the Fifties about her Chicago childhood and most recently her poetry collection What’s Been On My Mind, which includes the above poem. Eileen’s work can be seen in literary journals as well as online at Call Me Ishmael’s Apprentice, where she has written a poem for each chapter in Herman Melville’s masterpiece, Moby-Dick

Lisa Morlock is a writer and teacher. Her poems have appeared in Lyrical Iowa and Narrative Northeast, and her picture book, Track that Scat! was named an NSTA honor book. She holds a B.A. in English, M. S. in education, and currently works with the Iowa K-12 STEM Initiative at Drake University. She's a proponent of educational equity and loves nature.


© Wilda Morris