. The Ballad of the Heroic Mother a true story A toddler into water fell __And sank as quick as rock. At nine feet deep, she couldn’t yell __Or jump or thrash in shock. Her mother heard the splash portend __Her daughter’s water grave; She dove into the pool’s deep end, __Her little girl to save. She grabbed her daughter, held her tight, __And with a presto prayer Sprang toward the shimmering sun of white __To give her girl some air. She held her up while sinking down __And knew to save her daughter That she herself might well soon drown __So inched toward shallow water. Seconds before her lungs gave out, __Her face felt heat and air. Her feet on ground, she breathed a shout: __“Success!” An answered prayer! The whole crowd cheered the mom en masse; __She gained a hero’s glory. She told the public-speaking class— __I still think of the story. . . A Parent’s Prayer How heavy the crosses that You have been giving— Dear God, ever gladly I’ll bear them And heavier still for as long as I’m living, But as for my children, Lord, spare them. I know that their lives on the earth are a trial, But heartbreaks and griefs that impair them, I’ll carry that burden myself with a smile, And as for my children, Lord, spare them. Don’t let them remake the mistakes of my youth, And don’t let the devil ensnare them, But help me to teach them to revel in Truth— I beg You: my children, Lord, spare them. . . The Banned Barbie a true story For a little girl’s birthday, I shopped at the mall With my mother to pick the most suitable doll. We went to the Barbies and searching we started; Pink boxes stood high like the Red Sea when parted. A doctor, a teacher, an athlete, a nurse, A corporate executive, options diverse, The bewildering array still was missing one other: I noticed that Barbie was never a mother. No baby, no stroller, no pregnancy belly, No children around but a sister named Kelly. The boxes said, “You can be anything,” but The noblest career as an option was cut! Yet I’d love for a little girl somewhere to learn That her motherly wishes aren’t cause for concern Or a childhood phase she’ll be leaving behind, But a dream to encourage, and how she’s designed. . . The Renegade Poet What people picture hearing the word “poet” Bears no resemblance in the least to me; When seen around a crowd, there’s none who’d know it— I don’t wear black berets or a goatee. My field is math, I’ve gained a grad degree; I’ve programmed both in Python and Excel. I protest leftist lies and tyranny And strive to snatch some souls from roads to Hell. Yet one thing we’ve in common, I will tell: As left-wing writers did in righter times, I blatantly write verses to rebel. I’m lauding our “outmoded” paradigms: Large families, small communities, the Church— The simple country life for which I search. . Python: A computer programming language Excel: A spreadsheet application, with its own programming language . . Joshua C. Frank works in the field of statistics and lives near Austin, Texas. His poetry has also been published in Snakeskin, Atop the Cliffs, and the Asahi Haikuist Network, and his short fiction has been published in Nanoism.