The Story Behind My Poem, ‘The Children’

Sometime in the late 90’s, in a Florida café, I attended a poetry event with my friend and artist Kiki Calafell.

Kiki and I began talking about the loss and death of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped and murdered in 1996. We discussed the national Amber alert system created to honor her name. We pondered on how police notified and solicited help from the public in the past.

Kiki and I were both in the helping professions at the time and so we talked about kidnapping, trafficking and abuse, the tragic reality of what might be happening to those long-term missing children, the psychological and personal ramifications of surviving the dynamic changes and the deep level of bereavement it can have on a family. As we talked I scribbled on a paper napkin the words ‘senseless, yet profound’, because… what might be happening to any missing child was and is senseless, yet our conversation was so profoundly important. So important that this poem is what resulted from our talk that night.

After the death of Amber Hagerman, a national alert system was created by a group of radio broadcasters and local police in Fort Worth, Texas. Prevention education and awareness training is integrally  important to the safety, health and welfare of our nations children. Please support school and community based youth prevention programming.

To learn more about how you can be helpful during an amber alert go to and to find out more information about missing and exploited chidren you can start with If in need, call the Missing Children’s hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST.

Here is the link to hear our poem, The Children:

(Photo: Paula Curci with Kiki Calafell, official artist for The Acoustic Poets Network, at Curci’s poet laureate affirmation, photographed by Gary Duff.)

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