Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Auto-Pruning the Family Tree (Prompt: Tree)

My family tree
started with Juan and Trini,
my grandparents
who came from

They had ten kids,
who in turn,
added 23 branches
to the family tree,
and many of these
sprouted branches of their own,
beautiful and strong
all through Los Angeles

Except for me
and my brothers:

no kids.

My father used to say
“you can’t miss
what you never had,”

but I think my Mom
probably would have liked
reaching past
the barrier of the unknown,
outlasting her.

But, Mom,
you showed us
what it took to be good,
self-sacrificing parents,
and it didn’t look
so appealing.

You never bought yourself
anything nice.
You didn’t have
any outside interests
of your own.
You never
went on vacation.

I wish you could’ve
enjoyed raising us
more than you let on.

Perhaps, then
I wouldn’t feel
so perpetually

about being
being a nuisance
a bother,
a burden
to someone,

and maybe then,

have grandchildren.

(Submitted for #OpenLinkNight at  - Come join the fun!)


  1. Mosk, you say SO much more than you write which is why I am drawn to your poetry...another stellar example! I laughed and said 'ouch' throughout this one. Thank-you~
    Your takes on a prompt are also refreshingly original!

    1. Thanks, Janet. I try to not be boring. :)

  2. Ohhhhh. This makes my heart sad. But so beautifully written.

    1. Thanks, and don't be sad, like Pop says "you can't miss what you never had."

  3. You had really good parents and such a legacy....I love the honesty in this poem, thank you for sharing.

    1. Yes, I did have great parents. They modeled loving action! Thanks.

  4. heavy how you let this unfold...and then really brought the emotion on about your mom and your wishes for her and how that helped you make your own decision...well done...

    1. Thanks, I'm always afraid that people will think I had a bad childhood, or bad parents. Neither is the case. A big of who I am now is directly from them - mostly the good parts, the bad parts of me are mostly my own doing.

  5. ugh...those are tough words and emotions...i think it was difficult for them in times when there was no birth control and the kids just kept coming and it was hard to feed them..think it's tough on both sides...parents and kids's always tough to be somewhere where you don't really want to be..honest and raw...really good write buddah

    1. Thanks, Claudia. Yes, I think my parents did the best they could, and considering they got all three sons through college (first-generation) with none of them ever in jail or (obviously) children out of wedlock - I think they did alright.

      But, yes thank God for birth control - my mom was a looker, my Pop was a horndog = she had three sons in 38 months! Every year my mother would give my Pop a present on the anniversary of his vasectomy!

  6. Awww... I'm sure your mom had the weight of the world on her shoulders and struggled to give you all your needs, let alone your wants and, I'm also sure, she knows your heart.

    1. I know - I see her very charitably now. My father confessed to me that at one point when she had three boys under the age of five, she needed Valium - I believe it!

  7. I like the weaving of the is in the magic and skill of the poet that we are enthralled by your words ~

    Thank you for your lovely words in my blog ~ I appreciate it ~

  8. This was sort of sadness but, in most cases true. well done.

  9. Ours could go together, huh?

    This reminds me of my cousins who came from a family of 6 kids. Only 3 of them have had kids.

  10. Ya know, the way in which I saw my mother when I was a child,a teenager,a young woman and now are all completely different. I think there are so many facets to each human that it takes a lifetime to see them all, if you ever do. One great thing about being of a certain age (ahem!) is that you've learned enough in life to forgive what you perceived as flaws when you were young and inexperienced.
    This piece is so personal and so brave. You are amazing.

  11. There is a lot here in this piece--and I am always so drawn to your work--this is so well done

  12. My view of my parents changed so much after I became one, I certainly appreciate the sacrifices they made much more these days. Another great write!

  13. Hey, it's never too late for you men-folk to be dads. If you want to, that is.

  14. Like the rye bread commercial of long ago... you don't have to be Jewish to love their bread. You don't have to be Jewish to receive Jewish mother guilt! Such an art to gift guilt. I like the 'joke' where the mother buys two shirts for her son, a red and blue one. She asks him to try them on. It will not matter which he tries on first for her words will be on seeing which one he is wearing are:
    "What you didn't like the other one!" I had a nice laugh with this - Thank you.

  15. I am so happy to have stumbled here. My brother and I felt the burden of us on our mother and neither of us have children either.
    Loved your comment that she bought your dad a gift every anniversary of his vasectomy. Made me laugh out loud!

  16. Man, you express a sense of something I've never really looked at here--and I am totally feeling it. I think we very much reflect the parenting we got, the kind of childhoods we had, and what is under the words and acts as well as the words and acts themselves.

  17. My dad was one of 11, my mom one of 7. I am an only child, and we chose to have one child, now grown. I would rather have taken care of my one to the best of my ability and still have room to live and enjoy life. Selfish or practical? We all have choices, and no one should be judged on the one they made. Excellent and thoughtful write. Your mom must have been (be?) an amazing woman!

  18. Ouch! Looks like you learned the fine art of guilt induction yourself! (and thank you for your kind comments and support on my previous poem)

  19. It's not quite the same thing, but my mother used to absolutely kill herself keeping the perfect 50s housewife home (and no, I'm not quite *that* old...I was her late-life baby when she was 38) but she clearly hated every second of it (come on...take it out on the Eureka one more time! yeah!) and used to walk around looking stressed and exhausted all the time. She tried to pass on this grim pursuit of outward perfection to me, but I saw unhappiness in every move, and vowed never to be like her. And in this particular, I'm not.

  20. and everywhere you turn, there's guilt!!

    messy little girl

  21. I found my appreciation for my mother came far too late. I was too hung up on my hurt feelings to realize the pain she lived through. I love poetry and its allowing me to say what I feel right or wrong...this is a wonderful piece!

  22. Not sure whether to applaud your dear mother,
    or to cry.

    btw, i fell out of my family tree
    and hit my head really freakin' hard--
    and that's what's RIGHT with me!

  23. This has so many poetic layers yet it is frank and emotional. I especially like the title.

  24. What an honest write this is! Your heartfelt emotions about your mom and your guilt planted something within you that made this beautiful tree poem. Hey...kudos to you. Love this!

  25. Engaging and beautiful, leaving me a little heavy heart.

  26. So honest and so close to the bone, raw and compassionate. Your ability to capture the essential outlines of the moments that define an event and yet bring us back to awareness strikes me as your very telling poetic strength. This history of your family is both food for reflection as well as confession, in the sense that words bring us into deeper realms of sharing who we are with others.

  27. With your insights shown here, probably would have made a wonderful parent.

  28. This is so simple yet holds so much more within the depth of your words. Touches me personally on many levels. Thank you.