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April 25th JP Poem Pick

Today’s poem was chosen by Jules Nyquist and was written by Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen. More info on Joyce Sutphen:


The First Child

By Joyce Sutphen

From her book “First Words” Red Dragonfly Press, 2010

It is hard to be the first,

the one who opens the door
between generations, who
swings between the mother
and the father, the one who
must learn to sleep through
the night, alone.

The oldest one,
the eldest, the one who
has her first birthday first
and her second birthday
first, and first rides a bike,
and first goes off to school
and has her picture taken
a hundred times a day.

The first one makes mistakes
that show the others what
to avoid. She must go down
into the dark underworld
of parental ignorance and come
up with a key that will
release her and her sisters
from the fortress where
the ogres planned to keep them
all their lives.

She has to be
the first to tell them no, make
them let go. She has to tell them
she isn’t going to be a virtuoso,
doesn’t want straight A’s, won’t
take accelerated math, has to

find her own way. First to say
love me for who I am.

First to want the car keys, first
to hit a tree, first to stay out
late, first not to come home
at all. She makes them pace
the floor, believing in the aliens
that take the real child and leave
heavy metal in her place.

But she’s
the first to come back home,
first to remember your birthday
and Mother’s D ay, a bit
extravagant, as first-borns
tend to be. She begins
to admire the way you arrange
your furniture, pages through
your books, notices the
colors in your kitchen –
and then one day she invites you
to dinner, and clearly
she has spent the whole day
making sure everything
is absolutely


For today’s prompt, let’s write a birthday poem. Again, be creative. It could be about a cake, a favorite present, or maybe even a scene from a delivery room!

Have fun!


One Response


    Birthday thoughts aloft: life measured by spent pairs
    of shoes with a chorus of others cracking gum:
    The Theory of Everything thin broth compared to St. Mystic
    conversing with birds.

    April 26 will always be reflected in weak sun-warmed streets: Rousing
    wood bees bouncing off eaves? Just a temporary confusion.
    (It is a matter of spiritual thew whose mass is

    This day/night set-up WAY too good to last, says
    the Authorities: Man-hours above and around worked,
    furled like spider-silk: far and far and farther on the breeze!

    Finally,the snow’s melted, and mail’s late–It’s a birthday. “He
    lived to a ripe old age of many pairs of shoes.” Always a
    good word for swaying in the wind like grass
    in slow waters.

    G. E. Schwartz

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