Soon after my wife and I brought our first child home, I was tasked with running out to get a breast pump. While I was out getting the pump, I also stopped by the store to pick up a 12-pack of Corona.
If you are a person who can appreciate my multitasking and need for alcohol in a house with a newborn then John Kenney’s collection of poems, “Love Poems (for People with Children),” is for you. However, if you find my need for alcohol an unnecessary delay in getting back to my family and days-old son, then please carry on with polishing the participation trophies of your supremely gifted children. There is nothing for you to read here and I weep at the absence of joy and poetry in your life.
These poems are to be treasured and read repeatedly and preferably aloud. I had tears running down my cheeks more than once and defy you to remain stone-faced upon receiving lines such as these from “Baby wipes”:
But this morning,
the baby’s poop
shot out like a cannonball
and some of it landed in my hair.
Take that simile to middle school English class, kids. Or this from “Barney died, sweetheart”:
Oh, And I saw on the news recently that
Paw Patrol went on their last mission.
Apparently they retired.
And the Bubble Guppies moved to Phoenix.
And Dora...poor Dora went a little too far exploring.
Look, sweetheart. The Bourne Identity is on.
You’ll like this.
There were many times when I was trying to allow my wife a few hours of early night sleep that I would settle a newborn on my lap, coaxing them to sleep, while “Braveheart” played on the television. You see, the trials of William Wallace gave me perspective. Here was a man who gave his life for Scottish freedom and was disemboweled while alive which had to be worse than a little sleep deprivation and putting a onesie on my son with no diaper at nap time. Thinking back on those times through the lens of nostalgia, I’m still not convinced the disemboweling was worse.
“Love Poems” is a slender collection but perfect as a stocking stuffer for that soon-to-be parent or the already-a-parent-I-never-realized-how-good-my-hair-looked-unshowered-for-four-days on your holiday list. And in case the excerpts above were not evidence enough, the titles of the poems give a glimpse into Kenney’s tone—“There isn’t a chance in hell we’re having sex now, is there?” or “3:32 A.M. and I am sure the infant is taunting me.”
The poems in “Love Poems” are not, generally, high art. This is not Billy Collins, but who cares? These little gems make life glow a little brighter. Especially if you add alcohol.