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'Words Whispered to a Child Under Siege' is a powerful poem about parenting in a war zone

Joseph Fasano's heartbreaking poem speaks volumes about our shared humanity.

man holding finger to his mouth as a signal to be quiet
Photo by Sander Sammy on Unsplash

How does a father keep a child comforted and quiet while under siege?

I've never been in a war zone, but as a mother of three, I've pictured it. Any time I read a news story about a part of the world that's exploded into violence, I imagine what it must be like for parents—especially those with small children—living through it. How do they explain what's happening? How do they comfort their kids when they themselves are terrified? How do they shield their children not only from unthinkable atrocity but from fear itself?

Joseph Fasano's poem "Words Whispered to a Child Under Siege" hits at the heart of those questions in a scenario that has played out countless times throughout human history. The poem's narrator is a father trying to comfort his child while they hide from soldiers in their house, and the way he makes a game out of it highlights the lengths parents will go to help children feel safe, even when they objectively aren't.

Fasano shared the poem on social media and it has been shared tens of thousands of time from different accounts. As one page warned, "Prepare your heart before reading." It's solid advice, though it's hard to know how to prepare for it.


The poem reads:

No, we are not going to die.

The sounds you hear

knocking the windows and chipping the paint

from the ceiling, that is a game

the world is playing.

Our task is to crouch in the dark as long as we can

and count the beats of our own hearts.

Good. Like that. Lay your hand

on my heart and I'll lay mine on yours.

Which one of us wins

is the one who loves the game the most

while it lasts.

Yes, it is going to last.

You can use your ear instead of your hand.

Here, on my heart.

Why is it beating faster? For you. That's all.

I always wanted you to be born

and so did the world.

No, those aren't a stranger's bootsteps in the house.

Yes, I'm here. We're safe.

Remember chess? Remember

hide-and-seek?

The song your mother sang? Let's sing that one.

She's still with us, yes. But you have to sing

without making a sound. She'd like that.

No, those aren't bootsteps.

Sing. Sing louder.

Those aren't bootsteps.

Let me show you how I cried when you were born.

Those aren't bootsteps.

Those aren't sirens.

Those aren't flames.

Close your eyes. Like chess. Like hide-and-seek.

When the game is done you get another life.

- Joseph Fasano

Fasano wrote in Instagram, "I hope these words do what words can do sometimes." They did, judging by the comment section:

"Gorgeously gut wrenching poem to read, and difficult to wrap our minds around the idea that this is and has been far too many people’s reality…I’ve been a fan of your poems for a while. You provide the perfect example I can show my students of how art and writing help us maintain our humanity ❤️"

"Thank you, Mr. Fasano. I have been walking around unable to make sense of anything that is happening in the world and I feel myself shutting down. Your words give voice to everything that I cannot find the words for. Thank you for your poetry. Thank you for sharing."

"Thank you for this tender and horrifying poem at such a time as this. How necessary your words are."

Poetry has a way of saying so much in so few words. Here we see a father's translating his frightened heartbeat and tears of terror into love for his child. We see him calling upon the child's mother as a way to comfort in an impossible situation. We see him blatantly lying—"You're safe. Those aren't bootsteps. Those aren't flames," all to keep his child from being afraid.

And the fact that this could be any father in any war zone in any place and time is a heartbreaking reminder of our shared humanity.

No matter the conflict or the rationale behind it, innocent people are the primary victims of war and children always pay the biggest price. When tensions and passions run high, we must remember this: Wars don't break out between average citizens just trying to live their lives in peace. War is a fight between powers, with men in safe rooms ordering less powerful men to take up arms against their fellow human beings. Average citizens don't want any part of these conflicts—they just want to take their kids to the park, talk about their days over family dinner and not worry about what games to play with their children if or when the bombs and boots start dropping.

You can find more of Joseph Fasano's poetry on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter), and you can pre-order his book, "The Magic Words: Simple Poetry Prompts That Unlock the Creativity in Everyone," here.

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O Organics make eating organic affordable

True

Friendsgiving might have started as a novel alternative to Thanksgiving, but today it’s an American holiday in its own right.

For many, especially millennials and Gen Zers, Friendsgiving offers an opportunity to get creative with their celebrations without being obligated to outdated, even problematic traditions or having to break the bank.

However, some of us might not want to go to the extreme of only having pizza and beer. What if there were a way to balance the decadence of a traditional Thanksgiving meal while still keeping it easy and laid-back? And could we make it healthy too?

As it turns out, we can.

Here’s a super simple breakdown of what your next Friendsgiving prep could look like. An appetizer, salad, side, entree, and dessert. All done in an hour—even quicker if you assign certain dishes to different partygoers. #spreadsheetsrule

But wait, it gets better—all of these meals can be made organic at an affordable price, using O Organics® at Albertsons. O Organics helps shoppers find quality ingredients at reasonable prices every day of the year. Friendsgiving is no different.

Without further ado, let’s get cooking!

Appetizer: Charcuterie Board


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Nothing quite hits like the fancy, grown-up version of Lunchables. Crackers, meats, cheeses, and various fancy toppings that can be combined in endless ways. The easiest form of culinary creativity there is.

You already know how to make one of these bad boys, but here’s a basic template if you’re needing a dose of inspo:

Meats: Some tasty choices here are salami, prosciutto, sausage, etc. I made a smaller-scale board and decided to go with salami. If you or your friends aren’t a fan of pork, sliced turkey or smoked salmon are some yummy alternatives.

Cheese: The possibilities are endless here. You can even opt for a dairy-free cheese option!

Bread or Crackers: Artfully arranged. Speedily snacked upon. Some O Organics options here and here.

Fillers: this is where the charcuterie really shines. Fill in the spaces with splashes of color and flavor. Be sure to go for both savory and sweet. That means olives, sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, nuts, and a vibrant array of fresh or dried fruit. A yummy fruit spread doesn’t hurt either.

Time: 5 min

Salad: Squash And Feta Salad

Ingredients:

(3-4 servings)

1 small red onion (O Organics sells them in a bag)

1 bag O Organics frozen Butternut Squash

6 cups fresh O Organics spinach, arugula, kale, or whatever salad green you like

1/4 cup O Organics pecans

1/4 cup O Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil

O Organics Lemon and Olive Oil Salad Dressing

CrumbledO Organics Goat Cheese

Salt and pepper

Chop some onions. Sautee them in olive oil. Add a bag of frozen squash. Dress some salad greens with dressing. Add the onions and squash. Top with pecans, cheese, salt and pepper. Badda bing badda boom.

Time: 10 minutes

Side: Autumn Seasoned Air Fryer “Roasted” Potatoes

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As any millennial will tell you, we love our air fryers. Nothing quite ticks all the quick, easy and healthy boxes quite like one. And if you haven’t yet had a perfectly crispy on the outside, buttery soft on the inside air fryer potato, then what are you waiting for?

Ingredients:

One 3 pound bag of O Organics red or russet potatoes—honestly any potato will do

2 Tablespoons O Organics olive oil

1 tsp Italian Seasoning

That’s it. No really.

Cut potatoes into one-inch pieces. Coat with olive oil. Sprinkle seasoning. Cook in an air fryer at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Toss the potatoes in the basket and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender and crisp.

Time: 20 minutes. TOPS.

Entree: Coconut Chicken Curry

cravingsomethinghealthy.com

Because who needs turkey? This one pot piéce de rèsistance is the very essence of Friendsgiving—unique, versatile and not without a little spice.

Being the entree, this dish calls for a few more ingredients, but is honestly not much more demanding. You’re basically looking at 15 minutes for prep, and about 30 minutes to simmer.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon O Organics olive oil

1 medium onion diced

2 teaspoons ginger minced

2 teaspoons green curry paste

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 cups O Organics Thai Style Curry Chicken Broth

1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

1 15-ounce can O Organics full-fat coconut milk

2 ½ cups O Organics cooked chicken breast

1 8.8 ounce package O Organics 7 Grains & Lentils Blend

1 16 ounce bag of O Organics frozen peas

½ teaspoon salt or to taste

Lime juice

Cilantro

Chopped O Organics cashews to garnish

Using a Dutch oven (or large pot with a lid), saute the onion and ginger in olive oil over medium heat, for about 4 minutes. Add the curry paste and curry powder and saute for one more minute.

Add the Thai Style Curry Chicken Broth and the diced sweet potato. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and catch up with friends for 20 minutes while the dish simmers.

When the sweet potato is tender, shake the can of coconut milk well and pour it into the pot. Add the chicken, 7 Grains & Lentils Blend, and peas. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and let the curry simmer for another 10 minutes.

Congrats! You are finished. You can add salt, lime juice, cilantro, extra curry powder/paste, or garnish with roasted cashews. Each bowl is customizable.

Time: 40 min

Dessert: Holiday Kettle Corn Bark

onbetterliving.com

Of course, you can always opt for pie, but sometimes people might want to opt for something a bit more bite-sized when it comes to desserts—especially after a hefty meal. This sweet and salty finger food does the trick quite nicely.

Ingredients:

1 bag (6 oz) O Organics Kettle Corn Organic Popcorn (about 9 cups)

1 bag (10 oz) O Organics Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

8 oz white chocolate, broken into small pieces

1 cup pistachios, roasted and salted

2/3 cup O Organics Dried Cranberries

2 tbsp O Organics Organic Coconut Oil

1 tsp salt

Line a 12x17-inch baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Spread kettle corn on the lined baking sheet in one thin single layer. Put the semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Drizzle the melted chocolate evenly over kettle corn, reserving about a 1/3 cup for finishing touches. Sprinkle the pistachios and cranberries over the kettle corn evenly.

Follow the same melting instructions for the white chocolate, then drizzle evenly over the kettle corn. You can follow with any remaining semi-sweet chocolate for a layered effect. Let the kettle corn stand for 5 minutes.

Place the kettle corn bark in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden. Once the bark has hardened, break into pieces.

Time: 20 minutes.

OR…if you want to make life even easier…just grab some pints of ice cream and call it a day. No judgment here.

Time: literally a few seconds to open the freezer and grab some bowls.

And there you have—a no muss, no fuss, healthy and affordable Friendsgiving spread. Spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your chosen family.

Get to your nearest Albertsons today and find everything you need to make these yummy dishes! No Albertsons in your area? You can also find O Organics products exclusively at Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, ACME, Shaw’s, Star Market, Tom Thumb, Randalls, and Pavilions.

A young woman drinking bottled water outdoors before exercising.



The Story of Bottled Waterwww.youtube.com

Here are six facts from the video above by The Story of Stuff Project that I'll definitely remember next time I'm tempted to buy bottled water.

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via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube


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