Painted Bride Quarterly’s Slush Pile

Episode 37: Father’s Day?

July 10, 2017

We discuss two poems by two authors: “elegy” by Jessica Hudgins and “Daddy Box II” by Rebecca Baggett. Jessica Hudgins is a poet and teacher who has just moved to Ednor Gardens from Charles Village, is working with her roommate on their backyard, and thinking about adopting a dog…

On this week’s episode, we discuss two poems by two authors: “elegy” by Jessica Hudgins and “Daddy Box II” by Rebecca Baggett.

Jessica Hudgins (photo taken from Tinder profile)

Jessica Hudgins is a poet and teacher who has just moved to Ednor Gardens from Charles Village, is working with her roommate on their backyard, and thinking about adopting a dog.

First, we discuss Jessica Hudgins’ “elegy,” an accurate grasp on the complexities of family relationships in which the speaker conjures childhood memories of her father and aunt.  The poem depicts moments reflected on in gratitude, and recognizes the love and care in the lessons they taught her throughout her life. Despite how those lessons were initially received as a child, it is clear to us that the speaker expresses appreciation for both figures who helped mold her in very different ways. Hudgins offers a thoughtful comparison between the specific, mundane moments in life and the philosophical questions surrounding a child’s experiences, as well as what they all come to mean later on.

Rebecca Baggett

Rebecca Baggett attributes her life-long loathing of “real” shoes to her childhood at the beach and spends a great deal of time searching for flipflops with good arch support.  She lives now in Athens, GA, where she can often find decent watermelons, though none of them are as good as the ones her daddy grew.  She still loves to swim under the stars.

In “Daddy Box II” by Rebecca Baggett, we witness the brilliant redemption of the list-style poem! This piece is one that “incantates” with imagery and teaches you how to read it along the way. Going from a list to a narrative, it captured us with a broad portrayal of fatherhood and family life then left us to reflect on one lovely, very specific image of a cherished moment in a childhood.

With just us three Wonder Women at the table for this episode, we close out by talking a bit about the superhero film that recently made box office history!

Share your thoughts about daddies, Wonder Woman, and this episode on Facebook and Twitter with #WonderWomen!

Read on!



Present at the Editorial Table:

Kathleen Volk Miller

Sharee DeVose

Marion Wrenn


Engineering Producer:

Joe Zang




Jessica Hudgins



when my mom and dad were doing the young-married-person thing

my aunt was always single so she babysat

she gave me cheerios

and I ate while she had her breakfast cigarette

and afterward we took walks

and I pointed out all the volunteers

which is what

my dad told me

you call a plant you haven’t planted

that by its own reseeding

appears where it is not needed

and I told her to wash her hair with cold water

another thing she knew

I had learned from my dad


she asked me

what’s so great about your dad you only learn from him

and since then I’ve been thinking

it’s not about greatness as much

as it’s about what sticks


jessie I heard on the radio that sucking it in isn’t healthy you have to fill your belly to breathe well

and other things that are beside the point

which is that my aunt is not old but she’s not well

she didn’t teach me any words about plants

or about how the body should be treated

but she questioned me

as anyone should be questioned

who is like the soil

and takes every small thing that’s offered



Rebecca Baggett

Daddy Box II


The locked box contains

a pack of L&M cigarettes,

a gray steel lighter,

a frayed deck of cards,

a brown beer bottle

with a peeling label.

Twist of black pepper,

bottle of BBQ sauce,

cup of dark coffee,

handful of watermelon seed.

A faded green cap,

a black metal lunchbox,

a scattering of wrenches and screws.

Pork rinds in an unopened

cellophane bag, the key

to an old truck, the truck itself,

mud-flecked on the fenders,

the tailgate dropped, loaded

with lumber for the playhouse

he’ll frame in a weekend

with his brother Bill for help,

Uncle Bill, with his crooked

grin, his thin frame leaning

into the wood, the skeleton

playhouse that will stand

unfinished for months, then

gradually fill with lumber ends,

old tires, half-used cans of paint,

the truck in which he will bring home

the two piglets you name

Wonder Woman and Super Girl,

piglets that grow into sows

fenced at the back of the lot

across the alley, sows you watch

while Daddy tosses buckets of scraps

across the fence, the fence where

you perch on a hot August afternoon,

eating watermelons split against

the truck fender, sweet, sticky rivers

of juice pouring down your arms and chin,

and you eat every bite, down to the pink

against the rind, then pitch the rinds

to the snorting pigs, who crunch and mutter

as they feast.


The whole of that summer

is in the box, including the night

you all swam in the little above ground pool

in the backyard, you, your sisters,

your father and mother, the night

he let you pile one after the other

on his back, then rose and fell across

the surface like a dolphin diving over

the ocean’s curve, while your mother

laughed in the darkness and you could

see only the outlines of their faces,

but you knew everyone was smiling.

There is that night, far at the bottom

of the box, the night you could imagine

what a happy family was like.

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