Mother was a sand dune;
I was a camel.
On each birthday, she’d whisper:
“I wish you were
never born.” Other days,
she’d throw her body across mine
to block an incoming sneeze.
If she’d been vanilla
pudding or Lucille Ball,
I might’ve become
a mother. But I gave up
on babies for the first
bad boy and rock
’n roll was born.
Today’s your birthday,
You’ve done well
’though I water you
only when I notice
your head bowed.
Early on, I almost lost you
when you pushed against
the small pot. Now,
lean and lanky at ten,
you still produce new leaves.
I still taste sand.
Before falling for poetry, Madeline Artenberg was a press-pass-carrying photojournalist
and street-theatre performer. She has been co-producing the Alternative New Year’s
Day Poetry Extravaganza in New York City since 2002.
Her work has been published in, among others: Rattle, Mudfish, theravensperch,
The POET, Caprice, Literature Today International Journal, Absinthe Literary Review,
Skidrow Penthouse, Pudding House, Salonika, Vernacular, and Ducts.
Her awards and prizes include:
- Mudfish poetry prize: finalist (2020)
- Best of the Net: poem nominated by Poets Wear Prada (2020)
- Highland Park Poetry Challenge: honorable mention (2017)
- Margie, The American Journal of Poetry contest: semi-finalist (2005)
- Poetry Forum contest: 1st prize (2003)
- nycbigcitylit/Lyric Recovery contest: semi-finalist (2001)