Childless Pantoum

Taylor Mali


I let two wives talk me out of children,
I once wrote in my journal in my tiny cursive.
It’s easier to blame someone else
than fight for what you do not know you want.

I once wrote in my journal in my tiny cursive
how I always thought I would be a father
(not enough to fight for what I wanted).
There are some lives a child cannot save.

I always thought that I would be a father,
but my first wife couldn’t bear to be mom
(there are some wives a child cannot save).
The next one said I was not ready.

Not everyone can bear to be mom.
It’s easier if there’s someone else to blame.
It may have been because I was not ready
I let two wives talk me out of children.



Taylor Mali is a poet and educator and one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series “Def Poetry Jam.” A four-time National Poetry Slam champion, he is the author of four previous collections of poetry and a book of essays, What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World. He curates the Page Meets Stage reading series in New York City and is the inventor of Metaphor Dice. These poems are also forthcoming in Taylor Mali’s book Late Father, published by Quercus.