"Study of a Baby in a Bath" by Samuel Peploe

Poems of Parenthood

“Being a new parent is nice, but not always. Sure, the days are filled with tiny laughs and lots of firsts, but sometimes they’re filled with cries, and sometimes you miss the firsts because you’re off crying in your car. Nothing is always nice, but nothing is awful all the time, either. I hope these poems convey in a real, human way how it is to have an infant.” — Rich Glinnen

The Proclamation

“This towel is going to be the baby’s towel,”
My wife said. “Only the baby will use it
And nobody else.”
“Which towel?” I said.
“This one. The yellow one.”
It was a good thing I turned around
To see which yellow towel she meant,
Because it was brown.

Howling

We were leaning over her crib,
Trying to get our harmony of howls
To echo off her toothless ridges,
But when she opened her mouth
Only spit spilled out,
As if an unseen pipe had busted,
Forcing us to repurpose our howling
For a nearby wolf plumber.

Ticking and Turning

Lately the baby has been turning
Like a clock’s minute hand

I will lay her neatly in the crib,
But return to feet
Tangled in the slats
And a hairier head
Angled towards a corner

I suppose next week
She will tick with the ferocity
Of a second hand
And rotate before my eyes

And just when I think
Time can’t go any faster,
She will break barriers
And rise like a sundial.

“Baby,” by Gustav Klimt

Baby’s First Roll, 1-17-21

She was on her belly,
Quivering head lifted off the mat,
When she rolled onto her back
For the very first time—
A milestone that my wife missed
Because she was showering

“It wasn’t anything spectacular,” I said.
“It was like seeing a rainbow
Suddenly invert into a smile
And start to sing—”

But she walked away
Before I could finish telling her
That the rainbow would have only sung songs
She’s heard on the radio
A million times before.

Early Visit

It’s not that I don’t want you here,
But it would be nice if you left soon
So I can wake up properly
And dust my brain.
I didn’t even have time to finish my coffee,
Let alone brush my teeth afterwards,
Or apply deodorant,
Which, in a way, is an attempt
To keep you away
Until a reasonable time,
When the sun’s a little higher
And not directly in my eyes,
Like you are.

She Likes Black and White Flash Cards, for Now

In particular, the one with the turtle,
Whose two-tone face makes her jig against my belly.
However, she’s over the faceless eggplant
That dwells rotundly on the flipside of the reptile

It will be a momentous occasion for her—
And a traumatic one for the turtle—
When she discovers eggplants
Do not reside on their undersides

Hopefully I will be close when this unfolds
So I could rescue the shelled soul
From his upturned hell
After she inevitably scampers towards a leaf
So big that it will have to accompany us
For the remainder of the trail,
Or until we pass a good stick.

“Starry night,” by Edvard Munch

Putting Out the Garbage

It’s as though a giant
Bit into our town’s cloud cover
Like a crisp apple
And left a bite
Of night sky
Twinkling above us.
That’s why
I was out there
For so long.

Fat Snow

The fat snow sways
As if a sea-spanning bird
Tried to rescue
What she thought
Was one of her eggs
And nailed a blimp.

Score

“Dun dun dun dun dun da dun dun dunnn dunnn.”
— MGMT, the riff from “Kids”

It takes me back to high school,
All of the good and the bad.
Even the worst of the bad seems beautiful now
As I rock my daughter to sleep

When she’s in high school
She will be able to tell her friends
That she was exposed to classic rock as an infant,
Which should make her cool

That sort of thing made me cool
When I mentioned my mom listened to The Band
While rocking me to sleep,
But who knows how it will be in the 30’s

We could be labeled lame
Because by then MGMT might suck,
Which will make my kid think I suck,
Which will suck,

Until, one day, while gathering the petals of her heart
To Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,”
I tell her between teardrops
That I rocked her to this song, too,

The ravenous reporting of which
Will rescue us from the tar pit of lamedom,
For Pink Floyd will always be cool.

“Supreme Argument,” by Theophile Steinlen

Squabble

The bullets we load are fashioned
From mutual metals—
Some scraps from my fillings,
A screw or two from your glasses—
So that when we argue
We trade ammunition
Made of what we’re made of,
And build each other
With each other
When we aim to maim.


Rich Glinnen, Best of the Net nominee, enjoys bowling and eating his daughter’s cheeks at his home in Bayside, NY. His work can be read in various print and online journals, as well as on his Tumblr and Instagram pages. His wife calls him Ho-ho.

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