I Did This For Me

I did this for me
to protect my sanity when 
littles with legos and Thomas the Train tracks
turned the house into chaos
my mind craved discipline,
tugged by a place unfamiliar.

I did this for me
and a story I wanted told.
Shaping history into his story
was a degree in itself.
It's OK that it sits in the basement
on a shelf in timeout.

Three stories later I do this for me.
It's a surprise to myself
what word pictures and turn of tale
fly from my fingers onto a clicking keyboard.
Sometimes you'll catch me standing
in this world, but living in another.

I do this for me, but also
for them, they're watching me chase my dreams
for her, hoping the story can heal hurts
for joy, childhood should sing of it
for truth wrapped in love freckled with humor.
Yet, it's OK that I do this for me, too.

©2021 Sue Santiago all rights reserved

Haiku

Haunted

this is the week i expect
sorrow to creep in and linger
like a shadow i can't shake

i was sitting in a chair
getting my hair trim
getting ready to see you 
on my way to something else

you were going to the doctor for your feet, i think
but the day tumbled with each text
worse than the prior. Then the call.

i was supposed to have a next time
your eyes watched me leave
wondering if it was the last time
It wasn't supposed to be the last time.

a couple days ago, i harnessed you
when i made her laugh
she gave me the look we all gave you

i can't remember how, now
i can't recall what was you, not me
but i'll stake a claim to this space
if this is what it means to be haunted

© 2021 Sue Santiago all rights reserved

You are My Favorite

You are My favorite.
Let that sink into your heart.

Remember when I painted the sky
in such a way it caught your breath?
I knew you were going to check your mail
and timed it just so.
I love how you stopped and took it in.

Remember when I held back the storm
until you were safely in your garage?
I delighted in how you watched the rain,
listened to My thunder, dangling your feet
out of the back of your car.

Remember when there were twenty-five tornadoes
on your birthday? The lights went out.
You lit birthday candles and ate cake
in the basement so your little ones wouldn't fear.
I was there, too, keeping your fear away.

You are My favorite.
Let that sink into your heart.

Remember when your daughter was so sick,
in so much pain, for so long?
You couldn't see the way out.
I sent a song and you clung to it. Even If
she's never all better, she's My favorite, too.

Remember when your son was hurting
deeply? Everything caused him pain.
I sent you the words to give to him
so he knew you were a safe place.
One day he'll know I am, too, because he's My favorite.

Remember when I answered that prayer?
That one you pray about changing someone's world.
I sent you courage to say something.
You helped Me change her world.
She's My favorite, too.

You are My favorite.
Let that sink into your heart.

©2021 Sue Santiago all rights reserved

Wind

Your gentle whisper
soft like the flutter
of a butterfly's sweet dance.

Your joyful applause
as branches sway and
leaves play their autumn swansong.

Your mournful whimper
howling in moonlight
come at night, coyotes all.

Your roaring siren
like charging beasts raze
what lays in its helpless path.

Invisible Force
sleepy to speeding
fleeting, like a lover's kiss.

©2021 Sue Santiago all rights reserved

On Legacy

As I sit here thinking
about the passing of a man
with a great legacy

And the end of the month remembers
the passing of a great man
whose legacy I sit in and help define

I wonder,
What is the legacy I'll leave behind?

They will not interrupt 
the broadcast when I pass,
but I celebrate
this quiet life of mine.

The great man told me, slow down.
Showed me, go where needed
with a happy heart
sit and listen
forgive and focus
on what's most important.

The words I play with
may mean something, to someone, someday
but each today I can do little things
that in the end matter most.

I do not have the voice 
that can change the world,
but I can help change someone's world
a little bit with each today.

When an unexpected text
from an under-known friend
tells me I'm easy to love, 
I think, perhaps I may be on my way
to growing the legacy 
I never knew I always wanted.

©2021 Sue Santiago all rights reserved

Inspired by today's passing of Colin Powell, which made me think about my father's passing later this month and topped off with a very kind and well-timed text.

Biography of a Best Friend

Gives a hand to lend
Helps your heart to mend
Spends the weekend
Would never offend
The greatest godsend
Your matching bookend
There 'til the end
Is a girl's best friend

©2021 Sue Santiago all rights reserved

Inspired by "Biography of a Beaver" by Deborah Ruddell and Joan Rankin in their picture book A Whiff of Pine, A Hint of Skunk - A Forest of Poems

I am From (#1)

I am from around the table
Where words scale the slope
Playing King of the Mountain.

From squishy tennis balls
That spray spiraling slobber,
Igniting delight and twirling tails.

I am from guitar-strumming, feet-in-the-air,
Gather close. You are seen.

From comfy, cozy sweater,
Soft and a little itchy,
Tuck in the strings that make it unravel.

I am from the Still, Quiet Voice
Whispering, you have done enough.
Whispering, Sit. Breathe. Be.

©2021 Sue Santiago all rights reserved

Black Lives Matter in My White Life

I had a black grandfather
not by blood,
but in all the ways that mattered.
From my infancy to his death bed
his gentle soul left a heartprint on mine.

I learned about unity
seeing my black grandfather, born 1900,
and my white grandfather, born 1910, 
- both having seen their share
of the worst of this world -
tend our vegetable garden
then sit together on the porch
and watch the garden grow.

But this sweet treasure of my childhood
doesn't mean I understand the Black Experience.

I taught several years in a black school.
Some of my students put me through the wringer
my first year,
but not all, not most.
But some. And it became a special connection
we laughed at together a year or two
down the line.
For some,
but not all, not most.

I could not encapsulate 
their world, 
not here, not ever,
But their humor and humanity
strength and pride
sass and sweetness
left their mark on my world.

I likely learned more than I taught, but it 
doesn't mean I understand the Black Experience.

Some of my closest friends
have been black women.
A lot of laughter
and keeping things real
came in equal measure
in the hours spent talking
           in the classroom after hours
           walking laps, pushing strollers in the mall.

We shared the highest celebrations
life brought to our doorsteps,
held each other close 
during the devastation of loss.
Our times together shaped 
who I became as an adult.

Though we journeyed so far together
I still do not understand the Black Experience.

Because I am white.
White, white.
Blond haired, blue eyed white.
I am slow to speak.
I watch and listen.
I'm taking it in.
I don't know my part.
But I'm listening.
I'm learning.
I will bath my actions in kindness
and my words in love.
I will teach my children
to do the same.

Like my grandfathers,
I'll tend this garden 
     out of control before us,
pull out the weeds
fertilize the land
and plant good fruit.

And hopefully one day soon
we too
can sit together
and watch this garden grow.


TV-free Time for Tweens

Im_BORED
Yes! I know that face!

I have a 10 and 13 year old. They have two weeks off. I’ve got stuff to do. They don’t. In an effort to work smarter not harder, I tweaked this list to help keep my sanity at the start of winter break.  Fix it to fit your family too. Here’s to helping our kids stay out of trouble. For the sake of their brains (and our composure) . . .

  1. Learn solitaire
  2. Read Ranger Rick or Game Informer
  3. Gather your books. Which one should be read again?
  4. Start a journal.
  5. Listen to a book on CD.
  6. Meditate.
  7. Pack up too short pants.
  8. Paint a picture.
  9. Learn Tai Chi.
  10. Make some jewelry.
  11. Bake a cake.
  12. Play a board game.
  13. Visit the toy closet. What haven’t you used in a while?
  14. Shoot some baskets.
  15. Do some yoga.
  16. Learn how to juggle.
  17. Organize a space in your room.
  18. Train the dogs.
  19. Learn how to take a good photograph.
  20. Cook something healthy.
  21. Paint your nails.
  22. Train for a 5K.
  23. Clean out the car for your parents.
  24. Write a note of encouragement.
  25. Pull out shirts that no longer fit.
  26. Get on wii sports or kids dance video games.
  27. Make birthday cards.
  28. Visit an elderly neighbor.
  29. Learn some Spanish.
  30. Soak your feet.
  31. Learn a dance routine from You Tube.
  32. Dance like nobody’s watching.
  33. Do something kind for a family member.
  34. Learn how to create a You Tube channel.
  35. Pack a picnic.
  36. Experiment with new hairstyles.
  37. Grab a puzzle book.
  38. Learn to crochet.
  39. Ride a bike.
  40. Volunteer to take a chore off your parent’s list (AKA brownie points!)
  41. Pack some books into ziploc bags and hide throughout the community for others to find.
  42. Cook something unhealthy. Oreo Pancakes?
  43. Clean out your junk drawer.
  44. Learn how to write calligraphy.
  45. Go camping in your backyard.
  46. Legos are fun at every age. Challenge yourself!
  47. Sing karaoke.
  48. Make a family tree.
  49. Create your own trail mix.
  50. Learn to knit.
  51. Clean the yard.  (Or other ways too earn some $$)
  52. Turn rocks into paper weights.
  53. Take a bubble bath.
  54. Make up a silly story. Type it up, print it out, and make it into a book as a keepsake.
  55. Roller skate.
  56. Clean or organize the mess under your sink.
  57. Go for a hike with your sketch book.
  58. Do a puzzle.
  59. Make s’mores.
  60. Take a nap.
  61. Go fishing.
  62. Donate stuff to Goodwill.
  63. Create origami animals.
  64. Learn to sew.
  65. Make a comic book.
  66. Play with the dogs.
  67. Go geocaching.
  68. Go to the park.
  69. Paint your toenails 10 different colors.
  70. Create a D&D campaign or character.
  71. Clean under your bed.
  72. Make a video.
  73. Go stargazing.
  74. Make a menu plan for the week for Mom.
  75. Build a tower with cards.
  76. Clean your closet floor.
  77. Give yourself a facial.
  78. Read a new book.
  79. Set goals for the next 90 days.
  80. Sketch a scene you see or imagine.
  81. Learn to play or practice an instrument.
  82. Scrapbook or organize family photos.
  83. Build a fort in the living room.
  84. Create a writing code (ala Book Scavenger).
  85. Go bird watching. Take pictures of the ones you spot. What kind were they?
  86. Learn to whistle.
  87. Nerf gun war!
  88. Write a poem.
  89. Bake cupcakes.
  90. Make a domino course.
  91. Rearrange and redecorate your bedroom.
  92. Play hide-and-seek with the dog.
  93. Walk the dog.
  94. Balloon volleyball.
  95. Call a family member (texting doesn’t count)
  96. Start a gratitude journal.
  97. Climb a tree.
  98. Write a letter (snail mail)
  99. Make a melted crayon artwork.
  100. What gift have you never used?