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Quilting Blues and Nobody's Child are from my first book of poetry The Reflection Tree.


Quilting Blues


The Names Project Memorial Quilt,

For a specific purpose has been built.

To remember the name of the brave,

Who because of AIDS went to an early grave.

Cut down in the prime of life,

At the end there's no drum and fife.

A very dear friend you did lose,

Death precedes the quilting blues.


Making a quilt requires few tools,

But before you start, you must know the rules.

The quilt must measure three by six,

Upon its surface, mementos you affix.

The hem must measure two inches around,

For to other panels it will be bound.

Follow these rules and success ensues,

Death precedes the quilting blues.


Sitting and staring at a blank cloth frame,

The first thing you lay out is their name.

Often their birth and death date,

Is something you want to incorporate.

In their honor you pick a theme,

Pictorially representing their life's dream.

Symbolically sharing the life they did choose,

Death precedes the quilting blues. 


When your panel is finally done,

It's time to finish what you've begun.

Making ready for the day,

When the full quilt will be on display.

You've already made your traveling plan,

While keeping the panel as safe as you can.

Packing clothes and some comfortable shoes,

Death precedes the quilting blues.  


Immediately struck by the quilts enormity,

Even checkerboard rows show its conformity.

It continues on, row after row,

Year by year it continues to grow.

Colorful panels, stretch out like a sea,

A silent reminder of a social catastrophe.

Noticing all the colorful hues,

Death precedes the quilting blues. 


Giving it up is harder than you thought,

Heart strings being very distraught.

For a second time you have to let go,

Hoping your feelings don't readily show.

Assigned a number and put in a stack,

As tears flow you dare not look back.

Hoping it's included when the quilt debuts,

Death precedes the quilting blues. 


Early in the morning, the next day,

Section by section they ceremoniously lay.

Eagerly awaiting it to be shown,

To see if your panel has already been sewn.

Much more time would be like to spend,

But the display has reached a timely end.

The time has come to bid last adieus

Death precedes the quilting blues.

* * * * *



Nobody's Child

A child is born that cannot be kept,

The mother, exhausted, silently wept.

But not too exhausted to feel the rage,

Of being forced, into a cage.

Family members leave you no choice,

Leaving you without a voice.

Feeling as if you've been defiled,

Beginning to feel like nobody's child.


The minute the baby is out of the womb,

A nurse ushers it out of the room.

The mother is never allowed to see,

Her own child after delivery.

After all she might change her mind,

Become attached, become intertwined.

Making sure all papers are filed,

After giving birth to nobody's child.


The process begins to find a new home,

As the baby lies in a crib made of chrome.

Every year many couples apply,

Unfortunately many they must deny.

Those who qualify are put on a list,

After years of waiting they still persist.

A short list is quickly compiled,

To find a home for nobody's child.


Many times they tried on their own,

Never succeeding for reasons unknown.

Giving up, they finally opt,

Deciding it's best if they adopt.

Beginning their family they need not postpone,

Good news finally comes on the phone.

The perspective parents eagerly smiled,

Taking custody of nobody's child.


The baby delivered right to their door,

The first year the agency will monitor.

Visited each week by a social worker,

Making sure you're not a shirker.

During that year never giving up hope,

Examining their lives under a microscope.

After a year they've passed their trial,

Giving them the rights to nobody's child.


Finally the child they can call their own,

Excitedly calling relatives, on the phone.

The first thing they do is give a new name,

Saving the babe from certain shame.

Changing records that act as a shield,

Records that remain permanently sealed.

After their trial final papers are filed,

Legally adopting nobody's child.


But the real trial is about to begin,

Figuring out how to fit in.

Not all family members are overjoyed,

In fact, some are outright annoyed.

Including someone from outside,

Some comments are downright snide.

How easily the family seems to be riled,

At the thought of including nobody's child.


Even though you are very young,

Already feeling quite high strung.

The one thing on which you've obsessed,

Is you don't look like all the rest.

Lying awake all night long,

Pondering the idea you don't belong.

Many thoughts remain unreconciled,

Pondering the thought of being nobody's child.


And then it finally happens one day,

Your parents sit you down to say.

You are so special, for it was you we picked,

For it was not in your mother that you grew and kicked.

Confronting the truth, the process begun,

Explaining you're not like other daughters or sons.

Realizing you're not really their child,

Beginning to feel like nobody's child.


Left alone to ponder what all this means,

Slipping into emptiness as deep as a ravine.

The question arises, what did I do wrong?

To be taken away from where I belong?

Circumstances remain unknown,

Your whole identity has been blown.

Keeping secrets all the while,

Telling no one you're nobody's child.


Knowing there's no place you really belong,

A feeling that remains all life long.

Feeling alone even in a crowd,

Being followed around by a big black cloud.

Trying to escape all the emotional pain,

Looking for ways to alter your brain.

As a teenager, acting very wild,

Rebelling for being nobody's child.


Figuring out who you are,

Trying to heal the emotional scar.

For the truth you must search,

Personally doing your own research.

Piecing together all of the clues,

Finally finding some really good news.

Letting emotions finally get riled,

No longer feeling like nobody's child.


Finally finding and ready to meet,

Hoping to somehow feel complete.

Finally the past begins to unroll,

Finding answers is good for the soul.

But too much time has already elapsed,

Hopes of belonging already collapsed.

Leaving some feelings still unreconciled,

Feeling, again, like nobody's child.


Slowly the realization finally sets in,

Within neither family do you truly fit in.

Now that you've physically and emotionally grown,

Family is something you must make on your own.

The only ones that you will let in,

Are those who stand by you through thick and thin.

Becoming someone completely self styled,

Realizing you are nobody's child.