Father of the Year


The photograph

             hangs on the wall slightly crooked. 

You sit there, 

             a beautiful bow in your hair,

             eyes wide, smile small;

             your whole life ahead of you. 

You look, 

             toward the camera, 

             then turn toward the little brown bear sitting next to you.  

You grab the bear, 

             throw it,

             and break the camera. 

 A crack, 

             like a baseball hitting a window. 

All the unhappiness of one family, 

             exposed with one throw,

             and in the first of his handprints on your face that came afterward.

A series of bruises,

             faintly covered with makeup.

The first of many trips to the hospital,

             saying, ‘it was just an accident.’

Dad’s fist hitting into the wall

             like he did with your jaw.

The photograph

             hangs on the wall slightly crooked. 

                                                                                                                           Like you did last year.

                                                                                                                           Like you did from the ceiling. 

                                                                                                                           Like you did in the end. 



Learning How to Breathe

                                                                                       The orange-hued leaves

                                                                             sway in the light fall breeze. 

                                                                 A frantic squirrel runs by,


                                                                 into the road. 

                                                   Car horn honking.

                                    Small white man walking a large black dog.

                        Old yellow fire hydrant. 

                                    A blue bird lands in a nearby crabapple tree.

                                                   The worms in the ground


                                                   in fear of its presence. 

                                                                 A brown leaf


                                                                 from a looming tree.

                                                                             The leaf’s life cycle 

                                                                                       comes to a close. 

                                                                                                     A brown-braided girl

                                                                                       speeds by

                                                                             on her red bicycle.

                                                   Her black-helmeted brother

                        is miles behind on his scooter. 

                                                                                                     Inhaled air

                                                                                                                                     feels like spring.


                                                                             And you finally allow yourself to breathe.



Biographical Note: Madeline Riccardi is a junior at La Roche University. She serves as the Editor-in-Chief, Social Media Manager and Head Photographer for the Redhawk Post, La Roche’s student newspaper.

Madeline is a young professional writer who has published poetry, short stories, photography and journalistic pieces. She excels at copy editing and designing, and she is open to any challenge that comes her way.

In her free time, Madeline paints and photographs landscapes. She hopes to one day use her photography and writing talents to make a difference.