Life/Lines - April 8, 2021

Submitted poems for April 8, 2021

A daily poetry practice to generate and sustain the Life/Lines among us, for published and novice poets alike

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Write a short poem (rhyming not necessary) that includes each of the following 5 words (anywhere and in any order). Poems should not exceed 7 or 8 lines.


Send us your poem via our Submissions page or post on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #lifelines.

Today’s words were contributed by guest curator Jae Kim, translator of Cold Candies and current PhD student in the Comparative Literature program at Washington University.


Poems submitted for April 8

My handle is Viking Sister
so when my mother died and
Lynn and I went to the mortuary
it looked like mother was asleep.
My sister’s grief mushroomed
while I remained stoic.

Karen Sterbenz


The Need for Mothering

That longing that mushrooms up
From the dark moist spaces
Of the soul where it has been slumbering
Since we were separated
From that safe circle of warmth
Sometimes we handle it
Better than others
Seek solace from our sisters
Comfort from community
Other times we just burrow
Beneath the covers

Carol Haake


During that overcast early Summer day, we placed mushrooms
into paper grocery bags, combing the forest where the burn
had run through the Lodgepole two years before. Grandmother,
sister, mother, father and brother, bouncing over the logging
trails and the just turned dusty Forest Service roads, revving across
cattle guards where whoever was shotgun held the door handle
of the old Ford, everyone else yelled from the bed, holding tight
to the morels. That night sunburned, arms scratched and
two pounds of dust shaken from our clothes (per person)
we slept, deep in slumber still gathering another bag
or two for the long winter which was always, always on the way.

— M. E. Hope



Her Mother’d been cookin’
Durin' her midday slumber
A sister sleepin' in around here ain’t no scandal
But she hungerin’ to consume
Mmmm, smelled like mushroom
She dropped the hot lid before she grabbed the handle.



Can We?

How can a busy mother handle dinner?
Cans of creamed corn and cans of spaghetti,
Cans of green beans and cream of mushroom soup
Cans of peaches and cans of pudding.
We can simply open, eat and sometimes heat.
Can my sister and I help with the dishes?
Can we read in bed before lights out and slumber?
Can we? Can we?

Pam Hughes


Mother, worker, wife, seeker,
sister, leader, daughter,
pray-er, friend,
How to handle and hold
each work as it mushrooms and morphs.
How to embrace the joy.
How to relish the slumber.

Aimee Wittman



I guess I can handle it.
I'm 12 and it's summer.
I wish I was going to my friend's slumber
Party, but my stepmother
Has me watching my infant sister
All day, while she's at work,
until she gets off.
So, I guess I'll just pick the mushrooms off.
I said I liked CHEESE pizza.

— J. Thomas


From recent rains and warming sun
The earth begins to bloom
Mother, Sister, Father, Brother
Soon will hunt mushrooms

That honeycombed cap, that spongy stem
Handled with care and with grace
Placed in a bag, and carried away
Until fried...when it’s shoved in my face

— Chad Savage


Incapable of handling his mother’s ceaseless nagging
He plunged to a delicious slumber of
Pleasing phantoms like those
Triggered by the mushrooms lately
Slipped him by his sister:
Co-rebel against the matriarchal tyranny
Ruling the joyless house.

Robert Henke


How does one tell
A sister or mother
About the mushroom handle
Upon which you slumber?
While they're sawing Zs
You're oiling your lumber.

It's all very interesting,
but might cause a bother;
If you have to ask,
Save it for father...


I had a handle on my mother
and who she was really
but my sister not so much.
she broke my heart over and over
Her slumber was fevered from her mushroom induced dreams
She was a shadow invisible and shattered.

Sara Burke


Memories of my mother are less intense than dreams of her.
When I wake from slumber, I know whether or not I've been dreaming.
She hasn't been in my dreams.

In childhood I didn't have to handle the competition from a sister.
Perhaps I trust women because of it.

I remember a friend of my mother telling us he was "a fun guy."
I said, yes, he was a mushroom.
He wasn't impressed by the ridicule.
Margaret Fourt Goka



Mother Earth tosses her slumber mantle.
Frissons of life...bud, shoot, mushroom...scent the air.
She will handle this year like any other.
But I will not.
This year my sister sleeps forever.

Peggy Jacobsmeyer


Never eat a mushroom
from a magical land
given to a prince by a witch
given to his sister by their mother
an entryway to indefinite slumber
void of the warning:
handle with care



Mushroom dream, a permanent
slumber cloud. My friend was
like a sister. Mother was like my child.

When I lost them both
it took a long-long while
to get a handle on what if…
these days I can finally smile.

Linda O’Connell


Awakening these fragile days after
troubling dreams and dawn chirping,
beyond considerations of spring temperatures and rain,
all begins and I rise.
Shed of winter's darkness and cold,
I step lightly over stone as I pass from one room to the next.
My movements, increasingly graceful,
carry me mornings to the waters and rebirth.

L. Dennis


I woke up from my slumber
To be born as a mushroom
of my mother’s belly
I cut my own umbilical cord
And asked my name
My sister replied:
‘little boy’
And I was assigned to handle

Jey Sushil


to slumber
not letting it
mushroom out of control…

by Lloyd Klinedinst


LaYow Yu + Cours de littérature française du Professeur Lionel Cuillé (FREN 325 "La peur de l'Autre")
Quand ils écrivent leur culture à partir de zéro,
Nous entendons leurs rhythmes,
Leur musique, et nous les volons pour nous-mêmes
Comme des vautours voraces, Toutefois
Quand ils crient à l'aide
Nous avons le nerf de prétendre, aveuglément
Qu'il n'y a pas de son et de souffrance


mother and sister
in princess slumber
in tears, the boy holds
a pan handle
frying mushrooms

John J. Han


No one knew they were sisters;
until she, the elder, yelled at her, the younger,
"I am your father's daughter."
Thus, the truth slumbered in a mother's mind
no longer.
She, in response, grabbed the door handle
but within her confusion had mushroomed,
and she felt a lightness slipping away.

L. Dennis


Awake from the lonely slumber
See all those sisters and mothers
That after the thunder and the rain
Mushroom around to give you cover
Let them handle the burden that smothers
Sprout with them and share your pain
And together unite what has long been asunder

Pili Cuairán


Spring morning dawns on dewy orange tent
Mother and sister slumber on in blue bivy sacks
Father and I hunt for yellow chanterelle mushrooms
Bees buzz about red coffeepot handle
Color returns to the forest



When walking with my mother
and my sisters, in the evening
after dinner, before slumber,
a sunset joy in walking, all together,
would mushroom in me.
This joy
seemed all that I could handle.

--Sharon Bangert Corcoran


A mushroom effect of joy we pray
Wake us from our slumber
Handle us gently we say
Be the Mother of invention
And sister cause
Let life resume
Without the flaws.

Jan Newman


It was just mother, sister and I
When we lived under threat of a mushroom sky
Our slumber was troubled we needed a handle
So we went to church often and there lit a candle

It’s worked so far



We lose too many
mother is crying
son and brother dying
he’s in a never-ending slumber
daughter and sister the pillar
while despair and anger mushroom
it’s heavy to get a handle on hope

Betty Springfield


Grilled Mushrooms

"Mother, Mother,"
Sister shouts,
"Lady Slumber plans
a mushroom cookout

Warning, handle with care,
mind what you eat,
this mushroom feast
is a trick, not a treat."

Terrie Jacks



As my sister and I handle my mother
The realization again awakens
Never far is the eternal slumber

A lone mushroom spotted on my woodland walk
Is a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful, but also tragically short

Make the most of every moment

K.J. Boehler


My friend he made
some mushroom tea
by turning coffee candle.
My sister went and caught a flat
in search of COVID handle.
My mother texts to tell me this
in lieu of peaceful slumber.
If you would like to vaccine trip
then kindly take a number...

—John Randall


The Hammock

My tiny sister
in the hammock of our mother's arms
and lap
caresses the fabric
of our mother's dress
presses her face
into its colored weave
sucks on its nap

Our mother leaves the
long day's list of chores
to be handled later - they will keep
more important now to rock her infant
as slumber mushrooms into sleep

J Kiefer


One nibble. Then another. A tug on the handle and
the door swings open. I can pass through!
Finally, I am the right size.
My skinny mother would be so proud.
I will curtsy to the Queen
After all.
But in the corner, the weird sisters watch and mutter.
They see more than I do.
The mushroom’s magic will rob me of slumber,
Destroy joy,
Condemn me to a life of
Hopeless dieting. What have I done?
(And why?)

~Jeannette Cooperman


I can't tell you
when I nearly lost
my handle on life.
Maybe I ate the wrong mushroom
and went into a year-long slumber.
But this is no fairy tale
with a fantastic mother
and a sympathetic sister.
This one ends with me
getting a grip.

— Matthew Freeman



O sister
O mother

My mushroom
My handle

I slumber
You awaken

James Goodman


In early morning slumber
visions like senseless moths flit
around the kitchen light.
Mother, once again, at the stove, stirring.
Sister, in ponytail and rolled-up jeans, chops a single mushroom.
I stand on the outside, looking in,
wanting to turn the handle and set back the clocks.

Steve Givens


Mother Mushroom
Brother Bluebird
Father Feather
Sister Slumber
You help me handle it all

— Rita Winters


I don't remember the dreams explicitly when waking
from slumbering on a mushroom. Yje small of my back aches
alittle, but my mother smothers the pain with healing hands.
My sister distracts my memory with lyrics to a song I don't know, but I sing along.
The words have handles that open rhyme like windchimes
And so my memories all spongy and swirling toadstool-like
have their musical counterparts that dance with a semblance of art.

— Dan Cuddy


Morel season

The worn handle of mother’s hiking staff
Steadied her steps over roots and rocks
Through the hills and hollows of the Indiana woods.
Spores that slumber through winter, burst through the leaves
Revealing the precious, dimpled mushrooms.
Now sister holds the staff as the search goes on.


“Handle’s hot” Sister warns
as I stir the slumbering onions and mushrooms to their cooked wakefulness.
from the other room,
“It’s the novice’s celebration dinner,
Everything must be perfect”
announces Reverend Mother Mary Francis

d. bates


I awoke from troubled slumber, wondering:
What kind of mushroom was that anyway?
How could a caterpillar handle a hookah?
Was that Red Queen my Freudian mother?
Was that my sister or me –
trapped indefinitely,
doomed to tepid tea
with murderous royalty?

By Rebecca Carron Wood


Mother and Sister quietly slumber
I watch as their breath mushroom...
Sawing logs into usable lumber
Sweeping dream sawdust I handle the broom.


Get a handle on yourself, I whispered,
alone in the dark. I waited for a reply.
Receiving none, I went into the kitchen.
My sister had warned me about my tendency
for clutter, and the mushrooms blooming in the sink
agreed with her. It was our mother who taught me
to leave a mess, I said in protest. Then, quieter:
and our father who taught me to slumber.

Gwyneth Henke


When in deep slumber
Saw two figures huddled together
The silhouette of my mother and sister
Grief always difficult to handle
The spilling mushroom of emotions
Hovering cloud of sorrow
Days of despair and uncertainty
Which I have left far behind
©Anupama Kadwad 



Headline image: Michael Dziedzic via Unsplash