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Monday, March 29, 2010

Random Thoughts of a Five Year Old

Putting on a show with my brother
Making up commercials to juke box songs

The key was on top of the door frame, too high for me to reach

If you learn to cross the street you can go to the park by yourself.

Time for school
New pattened leather shoes
Shiny black and pinching
Kids in the school yard

Go say hello to that little girl
I don’t want to, but I do
I turn around
Mommy's gone

I'm different
I don't know why
The teacher doesn’t like me
The kids don’t, either
I don't like them, back

That damn dog never shuts up.
Piano lessons
Bartok and Mozart

Clean your room!
Empty all the drawers and clean them out

Under the gun

Look at the drawers
Which ones will he check?
Put the socks in the middle drawer
He wouldn't look in there

Don’t go in there.
That’s Daddy’s room.

Whispers in the dark
Something hidden.

You stay out of there.

Wanna come over to my house?
Upstairs to an apartment
Her mommy said it was time to go
Do you know the way?
Are you sure?


Wandering alone
Don’t cry

Getting dark
Where is the school?
If I can find the school I can get home.

So many cars
So many people
I don’t know anyone

Mommy's face
Where were you?
I went home with a friend.
Don’t ever do that again

He left the key in the lock.
The door is open.
What is it?
Is it real?
Don’t touch it!

Socks in the middle drawer
Tuck it in there

Ballet lessons
Cold outside.
And then winter is over

Now that I'm five I can go to the park
All by myself
I don't like to be all by myself.


I heard them running in the attic
Little feet on the ceiling

Damn racoons.
Keep breaking into the attic.

Little squeals in the dark

Playing with my brother
Pretending the bunk beds were being carried into the night
It was so real when we played pretend
We were orphans
All alone in the wild

And I loved my little brother
But I tried to hurt him
A lot
So many times

Damn racoons.

I pushed him down and told him to ride his tricycle down the stairs
And bit the heads off the little plastic soldiers and left them in the box
And carved HAM in big letters in the banister
And everyone thought it was him because it was the only word he knew

Damn dog!
Spaghetti for dinner
And all my things
Barbies with no clothes
and no heads

I'll take care of the racoons.

Heavy footsteps on the attic stairs, right next to my room
Bang! Bang!
Thud thud
No more little feet on the ceiling
Bunk beds and a dresser.
Underwear on the left
and socks in the middle drawer

My brother, only three
He wrote HAM everywhere
From the Seuss book

They will think it was him

Carving in the banister
Nail against the wood

Smoking gun

Mommy’s face

Where were you?
I was worried sick
Don’t ever do that again
You'll send me to an early grave

My sister dancing in the kitchen

Walking to the park
Swinging on the gate

Where’s your mommy?
Are you here all by yourself?

Birthday cake
And candles
Blow out the candles

Black and white
Old movie
Playing over everything else

Did you make a wish?

Washed out
Blocked out

But he didn't get in trouble
They knew it was me
Can’t hide anything, really
Not even in the middle drawer


  1. Wow. What a fantastic poem! You captured what it's like to be 5 perfectly and vividly. At least that was what it was like for me to be five in many of the details.

    I'm haunted by the middle drawer and what's hidden there. Also, something hidden in daddy's room feels ominous. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I loved it! I don't remember much about being 5 - except for the new smell of a doll I got at Christmas one year. Have a great week!

  3. Thank you, Kathy :-) It felt right to me as well.
    The middle drawer... that secret was as childish as I was. My older brother used to like to tickle me. He would sit on me and hold both my arms over my head with one hand, and tickle me with the other. Once, he tickled me until I peed my pants... and that made me very angry.
    I went into his room and took something he loved. It was - of all things - a larg ball of lead. He used to make lead soldiers, when he was youngr, but as he outgrew it, he melted them all into one big ball, and you could still see the legs and arms and heads of some of them...
    I don't think giving a child lead as a toy would fly these days - hah.
    So, that is what was in the middle drawer. I knew I would be in big trouble if my father found it.
    I did, eventually, sneak it back into his room.

    The thing in my father's room was a bit more ominous.
    The day he left the door unlocked, my brother and I found his gun. I know he used it to kill the racoons that would get into the attic... and I sometimes wonder about other animals that disappeared - cats and a dog - but I have no real proof of that. Only my childish imagination.

  4. Thanks, Sherry,
    My memories from my early childhood are much clearer now than they used to be. It has been unfolding like a TV drama, each episode adding to the complete picture.

  5. hi shen~ thank you for sharing this poem. it's very powerful. the main thing i get from this was that your childhood was confusing and scary. you had a brother you loved, but due to the dynamics in your family and probably just some natural sibling rivalry and child's feelings, you also acted in ways you feel confused or conflicted about.

    that large ball of lead is very curious. i wonder why you're thinking of this now. and why you hid it. seems like that could mean something more. but what i don't know.

    wishing you well today~

  6. also, i don't know if it's been there and i just haven't seen it. but i just noticed the artwork underneath your posts. "i have something to say" - what a powerful piece! i feel that it's very urgent she feel listened to.

  7. Hi Katie,

    This didn't start out as a poem at all... I was just writing random statements - whatever came into my head. There is a part of me from when I was five and six - I think its the same part, still kind of frozen in that time - and those are the issues that have been coming up for me lately. Its confused, in my head, so many images and snippets of memory.

    I got the idea to do some free-association from someone who commented on the last post.

    After I read the statements, I rearranged them, putting some of them with others from the same memory, but also trying to keep the time sequence the way I remember things happening. It wasn't really possible to do both... so it does jump around a bit, but I liked what I read when it was all finished.

    There are themes I didn't notice until after I re-wrote it. As you mentioned, confusion and fear were very present in my childhood, but so were secrets. I learned that one hides things to keep them secret and safe. Another running theme is the concept that the strong can and will use force against the weak.
    The third theme is isolation. The idea that I could go to the park by myself seemed good until I actually could do it and then always had to go alone. Being left at the schoolyard on the first day of kindergarten - my mother snuck away - seemed like a similar kind of betrayal of trust. School had been built up as this great thing but instead it was a room full of strangers and my mother left while my back was turned without saying goodbye.
    And somehow, my sister seemed untouched by any of it.

    By the way, the drawing is new. I did it yesterday morning.

  8. This poem really got to me. I'm so sorry that nobody ever saw the ways that the little five-year-old girl was crying out for help and did anything about it. It's amazing that we still had enough true childhood in us to make up songs and put on shows, make up commercials, stuff like that. Just amazing. ((((((safe, gentle hugs)))))

  9. Thank you, Marj... I'll take that hug.


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Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.