Collection of Poems

Ode to the Mother of the Bar Mitzvah

By Esther Marilus/Thumim

First printed in Hamodia


Now, as throughout the ages

Children always grow in stages.

First come cries and colic;

Then, they crawl and frolic

Interrupted, sleepless nights –

One of many childhood rites.


Round, bright, sparkling, deep-set eyes

Help bind mother-infant ties.

Newborns can only put and coo,

But oh! The love that’s shining through.

Drinking, dressing, keeping clean –

Time is passing, though unseen.


Big, broad, toothless smile,

Angelic looks, which do beguile.

Juicy-wet kisses and hugs

Compensate for stains on rugs.

Always in motion albeit slow;

Time is passing.  Where does it go?


Soon come baby’s first new shoes,

Ushering in those terrible twos.

Now he’s off and running,

He’s become very cunning.

Undetected, never seen –

Time is passing on life’s screen.


Horses without a stable

Play-Doh stuck to every table,

Fingerprints on every glass,

But he’s a joy in every class.

Undetected, never seen –

Time is passing as a dream.


Aleph-beis, the Mishna.

A penny for his puskka

Time is passing, albeit slow,

Shedding childhood as you grow.

Nursery rhymes and ABCs –

He’s also good at climbing trees.


Indeed, the yeasrs have flown;

Just see how much he’s grown.

Joy mixed with a sprinkling of fun,

Memories shared by mother and son.

Tick-tock, tick tock,

‘Tis the chiming of the clock.


Thirteen – he’s now a man,

You marvel how time ran.

New hat, new shirt, new frock –

His door now sprouts a lock.

To enter even you must knock.

Amusing, but still somehow a shock.


Bar mitzvah “men” are quite courageous

Their excitement, quite contagious.

Independence tastes so sweet;

Growing up is really neat.

Always up and out the door,

You hardly see him anymore.


Although that special bond is there,

It’s all right to shed a tear.

History is in the making,

Yet deep down, a heart is aching

For all the prayers and all the fears,

And bygone days, now turned to years.


Happiness is tinged with pain

Will life ever be the same?

Mothers do what mothers may,

But only G-d has the last say.

All the years of love invested,

Are about to be time-tested.


Relationships are never static,

Never smooth, non-problematic.

But as far as one can tell,

So far, you’ve done very well.

Your “baby’s” childhood soon completed,

All your efforts have succeeded.


Well-behaved, yet full of fire,

Who doesn’t love your Chaim Mayer?

Yet, with all due respect, it seems,

It also helps to have great genes.

How can he fail to be “beseder”

With such a bubby, such a zaide?


Blessed with a set of grand-genotypes twice,

No wonder your son has turned out so nice!

Nachas cannot be translated,

An ancient term, not quite outdated,

A sense of pride that’s sentimental,

Happiness, that’s transcendental.


May you reap nachas in the years to come

From this child whose manhood has now begun.

Savor each day as he grows,

Love him so much, that he knows.

Cherish the moment, and the wishes of a friend,

Thirteen marks a start – not only an end.



Mom, I’m Home!

A mother’s bein hazemanim blues remembered

By C.S. Fogel

First published in Hamodia October 18, 2002


Listen, heed my warning:

For though your lives are peaceful now

It will all change by morning.


A storm is fast approaching,

You’ll wish for yesterday.

Tak cover (and a few deep breaths),

It’s heading right your way.


It hits like a tornado,

Or more likey a cyclone.

Yes, bein hazemanim’s here, beware –

The boys are coming home!


“I’m home!” they say,

and dump their stuff

And open the fridge door,

And guzzle quarts of orange juice

Until there is no more!


Their laundry bags are piled up high;

They almost reach the ceiling.

Be careful as you open them

Your senses will go reeling.


I barely recognize

My dining room set anymore,

Each chair wears a jacket,

And the table’s a hat store.


The food supply is endless:

They eat five meals, at least,

Each supper is a banquet,

And each snack becomes a feast.


Consuming dozens of fried eggs

And cereal nonstop,

They empty out each box

Before I say “Snap Crackle Pop!”


I thought up a new tacktic:

Labeled all my cakes “Raw Chicken.”

But they were not fooled – not one bit,

And all day long they’re pickin’!


Two weeks ago I made a roast

For Yom Tov I would save it.

For a late-night snack they thought

It would be nice to microwave it.


“At least they’re clean,” I tell myself

The showers never stop.

They use up all the towels,

And hot water, every drop.


What is that noise I hear?

I think it’s coming from your room.

Oh, Ma, it’s such a feste song,

Our new yeshiva tune.


The phones are ringing off the hook,

“Pick up, this call’s for you!”

But they can’t hear; they’re blasting

Yeedle, Avraham, Shwekey Two.


Their voices tend to rise

At least a decibel or two,

They loudly share their knowledge

Of what’s right and wrong to do.


They need money for a tie and suit

Their shoes are shot, they hurt;

And money for the cleaners

And the Chinese for the shirts.


We have to run my errands,

But it’s just as I had feared;

We go out to the driveway

And the cars have disappeared.


When they (and I) were younger,

I would tuck in all my boys.

But now I say, “When you get home,

Lock up, and don’t make noise.”


A choir of alarm clocks

With music or with chimes

Wake up each one for minyan

From six o’clock till nine.


And then the time that we’ve been wishing for

Arrives too soon,

When suitcases and duffel bags

Crowd up the living room.


And now it’s me at the fridge door

(And though it may seem funny),

I’m begging them to take more food,

And just in case, more money.


I wave good-bye as each one leaves,

And wipe away a tear,

I must admit quite honestly,

‘Twas nice to have them here.


In solitude, I stop and pause

Before their empty room,

And hear that I am softly humming

That yeshiva tune.


Too many quiet hours pass

Until I hear that phone;

“Oh, Tzaddikel, when is the next time

You’ll be coming home?!”


Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy

When I had my fourth boy, my friend came to visit me in the hospital.  She brought a small gift, and this adorable poem.


It’s a boy!  A bechor, a perfect start

Leiby’s so cute, he just melts your heart

He’s growing and thriving, his quirks so smart


Boy!  It’s another boy, two’s better than one

Double trouble, they say, it’s not just a pun

Keep you busy day and night, is this called fun?


Boy oh boy!  Another boy?  A perfect prize

‘yavo haben hashlishi’, a perfect compromise

Well – as long as the gender isn’t a surprise!


Boy oh boy!  A boy?  Another boy? Of course

Having boys will never bring remorse!

But you’re running out of names now, of course

A Shalom zachor celebration, not one time but four

A ‘krias shema leinen’, a bris, who needs more

But wait, there’s still much more in store


At three a hair is no small feat

With honey and pekelach – what a treat

And you get a bonus of 4 times – that COULD be beat!


You think it’s enough to make your house alive

They’ll keep you on your toes as they grow and thrive

But wait, before you know it, you might have five!


Bar mitzvah’s will come, but invitations for you are free

No need for fancy dresses or a long shopping spree

Just some white shirts and pants – as easy as can be.


No teenage daughters with laces and frill

Just the tune of Torah – oh what a thrill!

A choir by every Shabbos tisch, never quiet and still!


Every Friday noon, shopping bags all over the place

Filled with smelly mikvah vesh to wash at a quick pace

When you look for shampoo, you won’t find a trace.


Bein Hazemanim grocery bills and cooking over your head

Black hats take up all the seats, even your bed

Missing buttons on bekeshes, never enough black thread!


Builders for your sukkah, you’ll never need to hire,

They’ll kasher your kitchen for Pesach until you perspire

And you’ll have the choicest kaddish sayers when you eventually expire (after 120)


The best part of it all – having daughters-in-law

Behaving your best, ignoring all their flaws

After all, your sons are the greatest – but now you can pause…


Enjoy them now, each and every one

Let every day be filled with laughter and fun

Even when they keep you awake till one…


‘Shetizki legadlam l’Torah l’chuppah ulemaasim tovim’


Okay, some things only a friend can say!




Behind the Curtain

By Esti Bald

First published in Binah Magazine  718 305-5000


You left this morning

In the gray predawn hours

Wearing clothing I did not recognize

As yours


I davened for this day

From the time I knew of your existence

Yet once it came

I found that I was not ready


Not ready

To be left behind

As you join the world of men

With obligations

And experiences

I will never truly understand


But as I stood

In the place reserved for me

And watched

As you donned your crown for the very first time

I was with you.


And I realized

That although you may go

Places I cannot follow

The cord that connects us is long

And I will always be with you

If only

From the other side

Of the mechitzah


Whose Pants Are These?

By: Esti Bald

Originally Published in Horizons Magazine


These pants could not possible belong to my son.

Not my 5 pound bag of sugar son.

Oh no.

36 inches is much too long for his legs,

His whole body isn’t that long – I have proof,

The crib card says it clearly “Height – 21 inches”

So you see,

There must be a mistake

These pants don’t belong here yet, in my laundry room.

I still need to read “The Cat In The Hat”

And go to the playground

Bake cookies

Blow bubbles

Build imaginary highways

Hold hands

I’m not ready for size 12 pants.

There are so many things I want to do still

With my little boy

So many mistakes that I’ve made

That I want to undo

I need time

Time to cuddle him

To hold him

To protect him a little longer before sending him out into the world

A world where he’ll have to be a man

To leave the house before I’m awake

Some faceless stranger of a school nurse to tend to his scrapes and cuts

Leaving me

To tend only to the hole in his pants.


Letting Go

By Esti Bald

First Printed in Binah Magazine 718 305-5000


Why do I feel so bereft

When I think about

The shearing of my little lamb?

The soft curve of your cheek

The pudgy hand that nestles so perfectly in mind

The cuddles and hugs and love that we share

Are not bound by strands of silky gold,

Yet I fear

The change

That I know will follow,

And you

Can sense it too.


You scorn the brush and ponyholders

That once tamed your tresses

And now prefer your tangles

Tucked behind your ears

And a kappel on top,

Even if

It keeps sliding off.

With one small snip,

The great divide

Between Big and Little

Will be crossed,

And time

Will not stand still.

I dream

Big dreams for you

My little boy,

But it is so hard

To let you go.


The Guys

By Peshie Needleman

First printed in Binah Magazine 718 305-5000

As I push the stroller

I watch them from behind –

this muddled mass

of rough-and-tumble boys.

Three nine-year-olds

and a couple of six-year-olds

with an eight-year-old thrown in

for good measure.

They talk earnestly,

gesture dramatically,

push each other playfully,

and then stop to examine a

(ugh) dead squirrel in the road.

Jostling, grinning

Trying desperately to out-shout each other.

Mittens flapping, coats falling from shoulders,

one skipping to keep up,

another walking backwards to show off,

one just listeining.

What’s with thse guys?

What makes them tick?

I love this moment

frozen in time

watching my sons and their friends

be themselves.

I can wonder what the future holds for these guys.

I can poinder where each came from and where each is headed.

I could.

But I don’t.


I revel in the little-boyness

And it gives me joy.

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