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Family in a Yard

21 April, 2017: Family in a Yard


by Stuart Friebert
Family in a Yard
There’s not much to go on at first,
a woman sunning, reading a book,
a man in a print shirt staring up
at the weathervane, some drunkenness,
a younger man working on a small boat,
a younger woman wiping a watermelon.

Hands under heads, water creaking.
The first to wake looks up: You
must come to the table at once,
an older woman says, money is lent,
chicken beautifully carved, swallowed.

After the rich cabbage soup, a girl
runs to the back porch to measure
the sofa for a new cushion. How easy
to tell the present from the past.
“Family in a Yard” by Stuart Friebert from Up in Bed: Poems by Stuart Friebert. Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1974. Used by permission of the author.
Stuart Friebert has published 14 books of poems; among them are Funeral Pie, which co-won the Four Way Book Award in 1997, and Floating Heart, which won the Ohioana 2015 Poetry Award. He’s also published 10 volumes of translations, as well as a collection of stories and memoir pieces, The Language of the Enemy. Most recently Lost Horse Press published Decanting: Selected Poems | 1967-2017, and Pinyon Press will release First and Last Words: Story & Memoir in 2017.


Write a poem about a gathering of your friends or your family in your backyard from the point of view of someone across the street who was not invited. The setting may be the past or the present, but make clear – without stating a date – what year the gathering takes place.

Cars are parked up and down the street,
The smell from the grill wafts into the air.
Many people, laughing, smiling,
Having a good time relating to each other.

When 12 months ago the country was filled,
With such horror and grief and fear.
Parts of New York City were in dismal ruins.
And the Statue of Liberty, she was crying.

But on this glorious sunny day,
It is so refreshing to see such joy
From all who attended this gleeful gathering
To celebrate the wonders of being human.
4/25/2017 1:38:23 PM

Chantelle Brady
July the 4th

It's an independence day
gathering and just for today
her friends and her family
all came a long way

to see her and her dad
and her brother and mom
but not her cat Suzy
she wasn't a cat mom

in the year 2016
but I can see her so happy
and her friends and family
happy as can be July 4, 2016

I wish I was there with
the delicious potluck food
watermelon, beans, and
burgers or hot dogs
what's your mood?
4/25/2017 1:34:55 PM

A decade after the St. Helen's eruption
Saw two mighty forces come to blows
Most unusual
Since it was a celebration day

Kids playing, running
Happy birthday sung
Before cake it cut
Two ancient warriors clash

Receipt from a bag
Protagonist bending for her kids
Antagonist trying to break her in two

Third party to the rescue
Headlock, punches thrown
Before false teeth
Moses parts the sea
4/22/2017 10:30:55 PM

N. K. Hasen
Birthday Gathering

Kids stand on front porch;
they waiting for a cue word.
A woman holds video camera,
Whose birthday is it, she says.
One of them smiles, baby teeth missing,
holds up seven small fingers on their hands.
You, hear the alright word,
kids scramble looking around
for wraped gift hidden for their enjoyment.

From backyard, one child yells I one.
Tissue paper flies off, squirt gun,
for today, one of hot summers in eighty-nine.
Kids laugh, exchange the water blasts.

A dog runs around with the kids,
enjoying the fun and excitment too.
A woman, mom tell everyone,
time to sing happy birthday,
to one of kids wearing yellow tank top with redish jam shorts.
Everyone joins in the song.
Then sung again cause parents have birthday in same month.

Candles lit for three times
look like stubs at the end.
Better to get all three in while everyone is here.
Seem everyone is having fun
there in stifling heat of the evening.
4/21/2017 10:00:56 PM

Jan C.
Elvis is Dead

The leaves turned early,
Untimely maples blushing red in the midst
Of green.
I put a lime in my drink
And dozed in my chair.
Across the street, a neighbor threw an empty beer bottle
Against a fence and shouted,
"Elvis is dead!"
4/21/2017 12:03:55 PM

james thomas lawless
April 18, 2017

Here, we are spilling green
everywhere. The grass
is choking out the weeds,
leaves are racing toward
fulfillment and the sparrows
nesting in the shutters, outside the bedroom
window, make sure we don’t
sleep too late. Their relatives,
the cardinals, blue jays, robins
and nut hatches twitter out
back, marking summer’s early sister.

Spring and baseball are here.

Jim Lawless
4/21/2017 9:50:40 AM

READ + WRITE: 30 Days of Poetry is a collaboration between Cuyahoga County Public Library and poet Diane Kendig. Our thanks go to Diane and the poets of Northeast Ohio who allowed us to share their poetry.