The Collapsar publishes new poetry, fiction, and nonfiction every other month, and new culture writing weekly.

Four Poems by Tina Parker

Photo by Megan Stearns STOP


No we’re not playing baby any more

Get up

You can walk

Use big girl words


Sit down or you’re not getting dessert

You have a napkin right there

Why are you wiping your mouth with your sleeve


Why are you doing that

Please let me eat

I need my arm

You’re hanging on it


Stop kicking her

You’re not going to bite your sister

We don’t hit


I don’t know why I plan things for you to do with your friends when you act like this

If you want to hear the song stop talking

Leave her alone


Just close your mouth and be quiet

I’ll tell you when to come out

I’m not ready to see you


We’re going to turn that off in a minute

You have five more minutes

No there are no more minutes it’s time to go

Come on I’m leaving


Just a minute

Get your hands off me

I don’t like the hitting hands

Use your words


No I can’t

You know how to put them on yourself

It makes my back hurt

Because I’m mean






In the early months,

it is suckle and sleep,

suckle and sleep.

We tickle her feet

to keep her awake,

to be sure she has enough.


At the half-year mark,

it is suckle and play.

She bobs on,

and off.

So newly aware

of her world

she must nurse

in the dark,

on an island only

we can rock to.


Thank God her teeth

come late.

I hold her tight

to fight the pain

when she hooks

them in, my blood

on her lips.


At one year,

a final binge

like she knows

it will end.

She’ll be okay,

my husband pats her back.


But it’s me

I worry about.

It’s my breasts,

how they lump

and leak

and throb.

And see how

she plays

and laughs

and asks


for her cup

when I need her

to remember

my body

in hers. Please,


tell me

she will remember

the days,

the hours,

the minutes

I was enough.






who gives out babies

except one day

she has a resident-in-training


              will it be okay

              if he examines you


and too quick the KY-jelly coated stick

is in and he whips it around like he’s digging

a hole


               don’t forget there’s a person

               on the other side of that





he slows and the screen lights up

she counts eggs

she writes how many

and on which side

he yanks the stick out

before I can say



I want a baby

the normal way






when a woman turns in her booth

she says

we lost a son

he battled cancer twelve years

they just kept finding it

but you do the best you can

day by day

you enjoy them.






Tina Parker lives and writes in Berea, Kentucky. Her poems have been published in Appalachian HeritageStill: The JournalRattle, and PMS: poemmemoirstory. Learn more about her life and work at

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