Tag Archives: family

Friday Poem: Human Family

note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

By Maya Angelou

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.

Friday Poem: To my Sister

It is the first mild day of March:
Each minute sweeter than before,
The Redbreast sings from the tall larch
That stands beside our door.

There is a blessing in the air,
Which seems a sense of joy to yield
To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
And grass in the green field.

My Sister! (’tis a wish of mine)
Now that our morning meal is done,
Make haste, your morning task resign;
Come forth and feel the sun.

Edward will come with you;—and pray,
Put on with speed your woodland dress;
And bring no book: for this one day
We’ll give to idleness.

No joyless forms shall regulate
Our living Calendar:
We from to-day, my friend, will date
The opening of the year.

Love, now a universal birth,
From heart to heart is stealing,
From earth to man, from man to earth,
—It is the hour of feeling.

One moment now may give us more
Than years of toiling reason:
Our minds shall drink at every pore
The spirit of the season.

Some silent laws our hearts will make,
Which they shall long obey:
We for the year to come may take
Our temper from to-day.

And from the blessed power that rolls
About, below, above,
We’ll frame the measure of our souls:
They shall be tuned to love.

Then come, my Sister! come I pray,
With speed put on your woodland dress;
—And bring no book: for this one day
We’ll give to idleness.

By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

Peering into the Kitchen

It’s Christmas Eve and the kitchen is a mess
everything crusted with flour as more pastry is made
because someone has eaten all the mince pies already.

The jelly stuffed full of Rum soaked sponges has finally set
providing a foundation for our Christmas Trifle
and the Christmas Cake has been iced
with red rocketships rather than holly.

Meanwhile someone is melting dark chocolate
to make a Yule Log the way Grandad used to
and not looking guilty at all.

I smile and close the door on my adult sons as
their chocolate fuelled laughter resounds in my ears.
Christmas is finally here!

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

This poem appeared yesterday on Sarah Connors Advent Calendar, but I couldn’t help but blog it again today, as it is about our own little Christmas Eve tradition.

Many years ago, I would leave the bulk of the Christmas baking until Christmas Eve, and have an all day marathon with my two little boys. By the time Daddy came home from work, they were happy and above all tired. Not over excited at all, so sleep came easy to them and Father Christmas could drink his Calvados, eat his mince pie and fill those stockings.

The mess is a family joke –when they were young, somehow the house on Christmas Eve was littered with floury handprints…

As they grew up, the lads decided to do all the baking (and a lot of eating) on thier own. They make the Christmas Cake (a traditional fruit cake), mince pies, a chocolate Yule Log cake, and a Trifle. And yes, extra batches of pies are made, as the first batch always vanishes.

They cook the main meal on Christmas Day too, so we are very lucky parents!

Wilma


I sit on the stairs
of another woman’s house
one I love deeply
my mother was the star to her
rockfast grace and kindness
but stars burn out and die

Wilma still shines
her back may be bent but
her eyes glow
this house was sanctuary
and freedom to me
the love she and hers gave me
gentle and calm

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

For Wilma, my Mums best friend for 70 years. I love her as a mother and was overwhelmed when her daughters called me sister recently.

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

Riverine

My youngest son is rushing
from the sharp hills of adolescence
over rocks and stones, always onwards
like a river to an unfathomable ocean

His thoughts are deep
his soul ancient, older than the flow
kept within his banks

He bickers down valleys
sometimes stilled, mostly calm
until an overflow of joy
forces a burst, a breaking of the levee
and he talks, oh he talks
of his passions, fears and hopes
as a waterfall speaking to the wind

Who will dive into his depths
see the treasures within clear waters
bring them to the surface
for the world to see

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Stanza 2 References “The Negro Speaks of Rivers By Langston Hughes 

Silent Night?

The TV and Xbox are quiet
no more Elves fighting Dwarves
or befriending them

The hall way is full of scattered trainers, coats
and, strangely, various hats
cowboy, trilby, tiger, Nessie

Crowded into the room above
they laugh and whisper
thinking they are silent

Sleep eludes us all………

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

 

Ah, the days when the house was crowded with teenagers….