Category Archives: family history

Grampee

Merry eyes, wicked smile, teller of tales.
Grandfather mine, I would sit on your knee
hear of Susan, the Mule that liked to kick officers
and saved you on a mountain pass.
How you were called the
Prince of Baghdad by your comrades
and of meeting real Princes in India.
Self taught, you bought me
Maths books to read with you
taught me poetry
squeezed me into your
invalid carriage and drove to
expensive French restaurants for lunch.
Your love of life and learning
and food
is mine, forever.

Copyright © 2022 Kim Whysall-Hammond

This poem is linkes back to Open link night at Dverse

Rattling the Drawers

I was spoon fed them
accepting passively the gift
yet another small burden to carry down the years
plastic bag of large sliver spoons all tarnished
a bit like me

Left in a cupboard
rediscovered when decorating
polished laboriously
put experimentally in a drawer

Now each meal uses one or two
dolloping pasta or curry onto family plates
use keeps them shiny, blessed fact
and their surfaces reflect laughter and love

I regret not asking my mother
back in her living time
where they came from
within a small working class family

Already I see the ones I will give this summer
to my eldest son and the woman he loves
as they start their lives together

I hope she will not see them as a burden

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

This poem was first published by An Ink Slingers Observance in their June 2020 print edition.

The Times he Cheated Death

As a baby, birthweight three pounds.
Swaddled in cotton wool, wrapped in tinfoil
tucked up by the steaming kettle
his mother bringing both twins to ruddy health.

In the Coventry bombing, a taxi driver sped
Mother and sons out of town, to sleep among trees.
They returned next morning, found their father
weeping by the flattened house.

That time he nearly didn’t come back
the anaesthetic would not release him
and his twin collapsed on the Parade Ground
could not be roused.

Fighting back from the unfathomable stroke
that took his right side and so his running
his special joy yet also
gave him his art back

The final summer, pneumonias repeated pulmonary attacks
when he saw new dawns after doctors had given him up.
Suddenly to be gone, after an evening laughing with my little boys.
Grandsons who barely remember him now.

After Amanda Topping

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

A poem about my Dad, Trevor Whysall.

Pony Lad

Deep along and under
coal damp flared, blew
took out men and rocks.
The pony knew it, that fetid puff
and bolted, taking his boy,
tightly clutching the harness, with him

Deep under and along
men scrambled, suffocated
wordless in the dark
never to see the green again.
But the pony boy was out
as the shaft tumbled and crushed
thanking God for his pony

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Wilfred Whysall, my grandfather was that pony lad….

Under Dover

Father and sons knew their worth
objected to their place in the ladder of profit
and so were sent to where southern mines
took men deep under the English channel
no sparkling mornings for them, but toil in darkness
too far for safety, too damp for peace of mind
off-shift, nightmares of death by water
haunted villages across the weald
on-shift the family built farther out
tunnel men all, determined to live
to fight for justice back up top
 
Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond
Wilfred Whysall, my Grandfather, one of the sons in this poem