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Michael's Poem by Julie Alden Cullinane

I was no good when you were a child

Loving you wholly, but feeling too much

All I had was love back then, not sanity or time


I worry about the dark parts of me

That might have seeped into those little, beautiful, chubby hands


I am 40 now

Thank fucking christ

The road most traveled is riddled with bombs

I don’t recommend it


I am ok now with the God that is or isn’t

There’s nothing I can do about it, any of us can do

Any of us can do


There are days now when I wholly love myself

…… a magic I have only recently known

I see all my good intentions in your mirrored face

I see all who came before you


I worry so much about all that you’ve seen and felt

Did I tell you our family history too many times?

Did it scare you when I spoke spells at full moons

Made salt circles and saged the house – only to protect you

I worry that you didn’t see……

Me sitting by your bed silently all night, on your tiny blue plastic stool

watching your eggshell rib cage

Rise and fall as fevers ravaged you 

Me, just praying to anything, helpless

As the green neon universe circled above us

From your star beam night light.


I was never the same after you came

No one tells you that parenthood

Is actually walking around permanently

with a giant, gaping, aching wound in

Your chest wide open chin to sternum

Just sucking in all the worlds ache

You feel the world’s evil

You hear it breathing  just a hair’s breadth away


You have your father’s eyes

But you were blessed with that bright yellow

slash - through blue

Amber in your right iris a gift from your grandmother

The witches kiss


Will you remember our hawk?

She lives in our woods or we in hers

When one of us spots her hunting

We yell for each other to “come as quick as you can!”

To the driveway, like the call of the wild

We fumble for our phones trying to capture her, never succeeding

We stand together as a family and watch her swoop full cyclone circles

Above us, our grace, fierceness, pride, protection


She as big as a human four-year-old

Our goddess

On a very rare, perfect day she will land on our deck

and stare and twitch her regal robot head at us with predator severity.

Originally published by The Graduate Review (Bridgewater State University) 2021

Julie Alden Cullinane is an ADHD mom, poet, writer, and artist from outside Boston, Massachusetts. Her artwork and poetry have been published in Stylus, Plexus, The Boston Globe, The Graduate Review Volumes VI & VII, Chapter House, and recently Red Wolf Periodical. She currently works in academia while pursuing admittance to a Ph.D. program and teaching opportunities. Besides writing, she loves being a mom to her two boys and dog and is hoping to someday teach writing at a college level, or move to the woods to read and write all day, either is amazing.


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