Welcome to Micro, I’m Drew Hawkins, and you’re listening to a special episode that was curated a street poet based in New Orleans that goes by the name of Cubs the Poet.
Armed with a typewriter and an open mind, Cubs generates his work through intimate conversations with his subjects, and for this show, he selected four poems that loosely revolve around the theme of parenting and childhood.
I met up with Cubs at a busy neighborhood coffee shop called Congregation. Where in classic form, he wrote a brand new poem for the episode while surrounded by patrons including Opal Doom Kitty, the black cat that serves as the shop’s mascot. She’s even got her own T-shirt.
So here’s Cubs reading his piece and introducing the show. Enjoy.
I love the life of being a child. Now my children teach me about living. By Cubs the Poet.
How we held our parents, children in the class being taught to see class it’s apparent.
Our parents never learned how to nurture our nature, the nature that given the nature that turns scared to scar to sacred.
Our children speak with the voice of sparrows, never sparing their voice, or daring their truth.
We are now the guardians of this garden.
A primer of being fathers to sons we learn to balance the bridge as horizons have.
It makes little sense how we become the past, just to see the present, of being in the presence of our babies.
I lived a life of being a child.
Now my children teach me about living.
I’m looking forward to this series of poems about childhood and parents. So many of us learn how to love ourselves. And once we become parents, it becomes apparent that there’s so much more love out there to understand to feel to experience to heal. I hope you enjoy.
I hope you all enjoy these poets and their poems.
Because poetry still matters.
This first piece, from Curtis Brown, touches on fatherhood and is perfectly titled, Little Sense. Enjoy.
Dad’s straightening back
pulls his angry eyes
our two bowed heads
fills the widening gap
I want to run
by the long reach
no such word as
a word everyone says
but does not exist?
but already know
make little sense.
Curtis Brown is a London-based poet who is forever growing up. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram at @iamcurtisbrown.
The last line of this next piece feels light as a feather but carries weight. From Michelle Christophorou, here’s: My child speaks with the voice of a swallow. Enjoy.
High-pitched, joyful, intermittent. Sometimes no one understands his cries but me. Sometimes I only pretend to understand.
My parents tell me he’ll grow out of it. My friends say they haven’t noticed, though they don’t visit anymore. According to my brother, I need to show him who’s boss.
My child’s voice swoops piercing and loud in the middle of the shopping centre. Passersby chitter-chatter, offer up suggestions: put him in the naughty cage, you need to clip his wings. Others prescribe charts or picture prompts. And telling him to shut up. Last Thursday, a stranger touched my shoulder, said I was doing a great job. My throat lumped but I didn’t smile: a kindness could be my undoing.
Mostly people just stare, so that my skin grows thick as sequoia bark.
My child is educated in a sound-proof booth so he doesn’t disturb the other children. Even then, they can see him through the glass, shrugging and gesturing, rolling and rocking, preening his invisible feathers. At break time, he runs and runs in solitary circles, straining to beak an imaginary fly.
Sometimes my child suffers night terrors. He sleep-shrieks and sleep-shudders and sleep-scurries, eyes wide as a great horned owl’s. I long to fold him under my breast, to gulp down his screams, but the books tell me only to watch, make sure he’s safe.
I know what people say about me. That, instead of nursing him, I regurgitated worms; that his voice bursts through the boundaries I never troubled to set; that, as my only child, I’m guilty of loving him too much.
Sometimes I stand in the garden, look up at the night sky with my eyes wide open, invite the rain to fall into them without letting myself blink.
Sometimes I wish he would fly away.
Michelle Christophorou lives in Surrey, UK and is the author of novella-in-flash, KIPRIS (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2021). You can find her on Twitter @MAChristophorou or on her website at michellechristophorou.co.uk.
This next piece really nails the theme of the episode. In the end, sometimes it really is just about getting through the day. It’s called “About having children,” and it comes to us from Guillermo Rebollo Gil. Enjoy.
That thing that Hass said, that so long as you make it through the day, it’s not like
the boy has to be in every poem per se, it’s that poems cannot begin without,
are not even imaginable until I bring to mind what he said this morning about
me smelling of socks and squash, and isn’t it sad, yes, that I’ll never grow small
enough to fit under anything anymore, always having to wait at one end or the other,
holding up a clean shirt for him to put on, so we can leave, please, and all the while
I’m saying to myself, I should just write the poem in my head without him noticing
I’ve escaped and so Hass comes up, the idea, for example, that the parent you are
erases the luminous clarity of the poet you are too, are not, are too, or the notion
that so long as I make it through the day without crushing his tiny fingers on the car door,
I should be thankful for the true at first sight meaning of my life, which I am, as I stand here,
a permanent escapee, from whatever other life the poet in me could have foreseen.
Guillermo Rebollo Gil writes, teaches, translates and belongs to/with Lucas Imar and Ariadna Michelle.
Our final piece is a raw and wrenching exploration of motherhood. From Laura Besley, it’s called Nature Giveth. Enjoy.
When mothers can no longer feed their young, chubby clouds burst, thick milk spilling out.
Children lap at puddles while men fill cartons and fridges, puffing contended gusts of relief.
Wispy mothers remain lullaby-still.
On and on it falls, streets and fields bathed creamy-white. Children muddy the milk in
lovelorn wellies and the men, no longer worried for their starving children, let the richness
slip into the gutter.
The mothers, grown strong and stable on surplus time, open curtains on the first day of
summer, look at the sky – a tight tear-stained blue, not a cloud in sight – and scream.
Laura Besley writes short fiction and dreams of living by the sea. You can find her on Twitter at @laurabesley.
Micro is edited by Dylan Evers and produced and hosted by myself, Drew Hawkins. Kirsten Reneau runs our interview series and MayMay Kaufman is the queen of all of our social media. Our theme song is by the great, Matt Ordes.
A huge thanks to Cubs the Poet for curating this episode. I highly encourage you to check out his incredible work, especially his new painting series called Poetraits, where he blends poetry and portaits. You can find him on Instagram at @cubsthepoet.
We’ve got a full transcript of the show on our website at micropodcast.org, and if you need subtitles, check out our YouTube page. We’ve got like to that on our website as well.
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Thanks for listening.