Category Archives: family history

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