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Archive for the ‘Family Poetry’ Category

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BANJO BAY..episode 17

 

The little town of Banjo Bay sits proudly in the cove,
Welcoming her sons home from their toil,
Her harbour filled with laughter, her streets bedecked with love,
A place for growing up and growing old.

The winter winds blow wildly along the rocky shore
As Nicholas DeWinter tamps his pipe,
The sparks fall gently down upon the spotless cabin floor
Like starlight on a dark December night.

He hears her gentle reprimand and then her cheery laugh,
His Clementine, his faithful loving wife,
Together have they basked in sun and faced the tempest’s wrath,
Together have they built a worthy life.

Their little cabin in the woods, far from friends and foes
Somewhat of a sanctuary it stands,
A bastion against the biting wind that oft times blows,
Every plank shaped by his calloused hands.

In his ancient rocking chair beside the roaring fire
Nicholas brings out his well worn tools,
Clemmie takes the other chair as every night before,
Busy with her needles and her wools.

A portly soul is Nicholas, as wide as he is high
But nimble in demeanour none the less,
His busy fingers flying as he works the little knife
That whittles on the shards of oak and ash.

And so they sit, contented, busy in their task,
Occasionally glancing to the door,
The door that rattles endlessly against the wintery blast
That sends a random snowflake ‘cross the floor .

Nicholas puts down the knife to gaze at she he loves,
Regret now rising in his caring breast,
No children was she blessed with though she had love enough,
As ‘mother’ she would surely be the best.

And now ’tis Clementine who stays her knitting to observe
With deep regret that far outruns his own
That she could not provide the son he surely must deserve
To share the tree of life which they have grown.

The northern lights rain down above the streets of Banjo Bay
As Nicholas DeWinter and his wife
Sit and smile together at the end of every day
Like book-ends to a hard but happy life.

………………………………………

The little town of Banjo Bay now settles down to sleep,
Another busy day has come and gone,
Tomorrow they will go to church, joyful thanks to give
To celebrate the birth of God’s own son.

Yet what have they to celebrate? This poor and wretched breed,
The fish that once were plentiful are gone,
Three years of harvests decimated by the searing heat
And still this wretched breed must carry on.

Wives take turns with frying pans as children gather round
For ne’er a child will ever go without,
Husbands gather at the Inn their sorrows for to drown
Where every tot of rum is on the house.

Counting every blessing, but blessings they are few
Yet always, where life blossoms there is hope,
The tide will turn, the fish return, a better day is due,
Until that day arrives they wait, they cope.

………………………………………

The blizzard roars around the wood, brutal in it’s bite
As Nicholas DeWinter loads the sled,
His great cloak buttoned to the throat, the lanterns all alight,
He gives the leading Husky dog it’s head.

‘Go carefully’ pleads Clementine for never has she seen
A cruel wind as terrible as this,
‘Tis now or never Clemmie, before the snow sets in ‘,
She gives a wave, they smile, he blows a kiss.

………………………………………

And now we see him silently along the cobbles cold,
No door is locked for none have much of worth,
Into the cosy cottages where families lives unfold,
The poorest yet the richest of this earth.

He sees the children sleeping, his old heart swells with joy,
He leaves the little trinkets he has brought,
For every child a knitted sock that holds a wooden toy,
‘Not much’ he thinks ‘but better this than nought’.

Every child in Banjo Bay will wake to this surprise
And wonder for their benefactors name,
As mothers turn to fathers, a twinkle in their eyes,
‘Nicholas has come to call again. ‘

And now the homeward journey where Clementine awaits
To hear the story of his escapade,
Of how he stalked the pretty cobbled streets of Banjo Bay
There to leave the gifts that they have made.

But not only is it Nicholas who stalks the cobbled streets,
There tragedy awaits to match his stride,
To wrap around the shoulders of he who leaves the gifts,
And tragedy will not be put aside.

The snow lies deep, the wind blows wild, the avalanche roars past
To leave an icy chasm deep and wide,
The sled is rent to matchwood, the Husky breathes his last
As Nicholas is cruelly tossed aside.

A jolt, a curse, a stab of pain that sears his screaming throat
For there it is his whittling knife has fled,
His saintly blood flows like a river o’er his rugged cloak
Now painted deep in gorey shades of red.

………………………………………

Meanwhile at the cabin Clemmie trims and lights the lamp,
The hour is late and still she is alone,
Throwing on her shawl she sets off through the cold and damp
In hopes to find and hasten him back home.

The chasm is before her, her husband at the crest
And plain to see his life is all but spent,
She casts aside her woolly shawl, the storm will do the rest,
Together will they go. They are content.

‘Did you get there Nicholas? Are our children served?
‘All are served my darling. Every one’
‘And is it finished Nicholas? Is this our final word?’
‘All is finished Clemmie. It is done’.

Two lives as one cannot go on when one is set to leave,
Like book-ends in a hard but happy life,
Their souls now rise to light the skies of man’s eternal sleep,
Like starlight on a dark December night,

copyright Catherine Turner 2019

 

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Don’t judge a book by its cover

Or a person by the skin

For though the cover is dusty and worn

A treasure trove hides within.

My hands are a little bit shaky,

I need glasses to help me see

And it seems that the world I have helped to shape

No longer listens to me.

An old person! Yes, that’s what I am,

I stumble and I forget,

But I still have a lot I can offer,

My time isn’t over just yet.

My shaking hand still rocks the cradle

And brushes away a tear,

My tired eyes still read the fairytale

While holding my little one near.

He smiles as he runs to my open arms

And for me that is more than enough

For a little child’s eyes never see the years

They only feel the love.

By Catherine Turner

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The little town of Banjo Bay sits proudly in the cove,

Welcoming her sons home from their toil,

Her harbour filled with laughter, her streets bedecked with love,

A place for growing up and growing old.

The scarlet dawn awakens to the song of Mrs. Jones,

Four and twenty children has she bore,

And every time the father says ‘Enough! The final one!’

And every time the mother says ‘One more?’

Three sets of twins and three of quads then six, who came alone,

And every one is loved as is his right,

Every mouth is filled, every head is neatly combed,

And every rosy cheek is kissed goodnight.

A for Annie is the first, the second B for Brad,

And C the third is beautiful Claudette,

Then D for Daisy, E for Eve and F for Ferdinand,

And thus they travel, through the alphabet.

A hard life hers but happy and no other she desires,

With spark enough to take all life may bring,

Contentedly she stirs the pot upon the cheery fire,

Each scarlet dawn awakened as she sings.

A farming man is Mr. Jones and happy with his lot,

Providing for his wife and swelling brood,

His vegetable garden fills the ever-bubbling pot,

So never will his children want for food.

His herd of cows give up the milk that growing children need,

His sheep give up the fleece that keeps them warm,

Fresh laid eggs from happy hens and apples from the trees,

Oats and barley gathered in the barn.

Waving fields of wheat supply the flour for the dough,

Snuffling pigs provide the breakfast feast,

Self sufficient Mr. Jones no other life would know,

The little farm has everything he needs.

From ‘morn till night the busy farmer ploughs and reaps and sows,

While Mrs. Jones is left to do all else,

Cooking, cleaning, shaking beds and washing dirty clothes,

All the while a-singing to herself.

Soon she will be bouncing yet another on her knee,

The family crib waits in a tiny room,

Tomorrow she will go to town, a doctor for to see,

To turn the sweet Yolanda in her womb.

For unlike every other who was born with ne’er a hitch,

Yolanda is a baby in a hurry,

But Mrs. Jones is confident that though the babe is breached,

No cause has she or Mr. Jones to worry.

Now there upon the cobbled street the ailing wife we spy,

For sweet Yolanda can no longer wait,

In haste, back to the little farm her stumbling footsteps fly,

Where Mr. Jones is waiting at the gate.

And there, beside the little gate, delivers he the girl,

But near to death his ever-loving wife,

No other child will follow sweet Yolanda to this world,

For sore the damage done to give her life.

The evening tide rolls in upon the golden, sandy shore,

As Mr. Jones a silent vigil keeps,

Little faces peer around the creaky bedroom door

A-watching o’er their mother as she sleeps.

But when the sickened reaper calls he finds no soul to claim,

For on the little farm the tide has turned,

Against all odds the roses bloom upon her cheeks again,

The pot is stirred, the cheery fire burns.

But all can see, that changed is she, the spark of life she lacks,

No longer does her song bring in the dawn,

Only tears of longing for the little baby, Zak,

The baby who will never now be born.

No morning kiss to send the farmer out to till the soil,

No loving arms to hold him as he sleeps,

Sad is he to see the love they shared so badly spoiled,

But thankful he, his tortured wife he keeps.

Tide on tide roll in upon the shores of Banjo Bay,

The baby crawls, the woolly sheep are shorn,

The wife scrubs out the heavy pot and clears the toys away,

The husband ploughs the field and sows the corn.

A life that isn’t perfect but a life that could be worse,

The tragedy behind, but not forgot,

But tragedy is never far, it waits to cast its curse,

And now it comes to twist the strangling knot.

The evening star shines down upon the narrow, cobbled streets,

As sweet Yolanda wakens with a start,

The fire of fever burning on her pretty, freckled cheeks,

The drums of hell a-pounding in her heart.

Along the alphabet they fall, as would a pack of cards,

Mrs. Jones in torment kneels to pray,

‘Dear Lord above reach down and save the harvest of my heart,’

‘Take the devil’s pestilence away’.

‘How wrong was I to weep and wail and shun a loyal man’,

‘To worry for a child you cannot bring’,

‘When every blessing you could lend was here, within my hand’,

‘Heal them Lord, and ever will I sing’.

The evening fog rolls in upon the gently waving wheat

And shrouds the empty streets of Banjo Bay,

Many a prayer is said this night on many a bended knee,

Some are welcomed, some are turned away.

The citizens of Banjo Bay stack up the bales of hay,

For all must help to bring the harvest home,

Singing as they swing the scythe in glory of the day,

And singing there beside them, Mrs. Jones.

And now beside the rusty gate the happy farmer stands,

Listening to she he calls his bride,

A-singing to the children who will work this blessed land,

And every one is present, A to Y.

copyright Catherine Turner

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The first star of the evening

through a misty window pane

Prompted me to whisper

that old childhood rhyme again

I didn’t wish for beauty

for all beauty has to end

I didn’t wish for friendship

for she was my truest friend

I didn’t wish for money

for I knew a Mother’s worth

Not even for security

for this I’d had from birth

I didn’t wish for guidance

for she taught me wrong from right

I didn’t wish for love

for I had known it all my life

The wish I made was for the thing

I thought I’d never ask

For what I knew must happen

I hoped would happen fast

Through a misty window

in a room of sterile white

My crying eyes looked out

upon the first star of the night

The saddest star in heaven

that I made my wish upon

The star that made my wish come true

that last long night with Mom

copyright Catherine Turner 2001

Star light, star bright, the first star I see tonight

I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight

Alfred Bester

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As I walked out on Christmas Day
I met a little boy at play,
And though the snow was crisp and deep
He wore no shoes upon his feet
But slippers showing dinosaurs
That long ago had lost their roars,
No gloves had he or cosy coat,
No woolly scarf about his throat,
But in his hand he proudly gripped
A paper kite, creased and ripped,
I called out “That’s a bonny kite,
Is that what Santa left last night?”
He smiled at me and with a cry
He threw the kite up to the sky,
It soared above us as we gazed
And as he laughed I was amazed
That such an uninspiring toy
Could give such pleasure to the boy.
That afternoon I felt so sad
While thinking of the little lad,
Then went upstairs and filled a box
With toys my kids had long forgot,
And through the snow ,excitedly,
The little boy I went to see
Imagining his little face
When in his hands the toys I placed.
I saw the house, the windows bright,
Curtains open to the night,
And through the window I could see
The members of his family,
His father proudly held the lad
Who sat in wonder on his lap,
They sang together merrily
As mother laughed and poured the tea,
No China cups, no steaming ham,
Just saucers cracked, just bread and jam,
The room was bare but filled with joy
That spread it’s arms around the boy,
Twas obvious that they were poor,
But not in love, of that I’m sure.
One moment more I stood and watched
The boy that Santa Claus forgot,
I didn’t knock, there was no need,
I left the toys where he would see
Then turned around and walked back home
To spend my Christmas all alone.

Copyright Catherine Turner November 2016

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Hello Lord. It’s me. Do you remember me at all?

I’m sorry that it’s been so long since I last gave you a call

It was late one Christmas evening; I was only six or seven

I prayed for you to send a teddy bear to me from Heaven

 

I haven’t asked for anything since that Christmas eve

I thought that I was too mature, too grown up to believe

But Lord, I’ve lost the angel who overheard that prayer

She left her children far behind to live with you up there

 

You must be very happy with the new friend that you’ve got

But Lord, I’m feeling lonely, and I cry an awful lot.

I wonder can you spare the time to help me out somehow

I didn’t need you in the past but, Lord, I need you now

 

I know you’ve lots of souls to save and spirits to set free

I know there must be millions who need you more than me

But could you find a moment in your hectic life up there

And send a speedy answer to my selfish little prayer

 

There’s one more favour I must ask before I say goodbye

If you see my angel as you’re travelling round the sky

Please don’t mention anything about this conversation

I wouldn’t want to worry her or cause her aggravation

 

Don’t let her know how weak I am, or that my tears still fall

Keep our little secret………just tell her Cathy called

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Scared of living but afraid to die

Cocaine nights are his only high

Screams from the past and shadows in the night

Heartache that burns him in the cold daylight

There’s a pen in his hand but he’s no writer

His heart’s been beaten and he’ll never be a fighter

We can stand by his side and point the way

But he lives alone with that terrible day.

Adam Williams January 2002

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Remembering

poppies as red as blood were the flowers that grew in the mud.

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When my son Sean was still at primary school he wrote a poem for remembrance as part of a history lesson about the wars. I have been trying to recall the words but will have to do a search amongst the old photos. I know I still have the original somewhere.

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They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old

Age shall not wither them, nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning

We will remember them.

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The little town of Banjo Bay sits proudly in the cove,

Welcoming her sons home from their toil,

Her harbour filled with laughter, her streets bedecked with love,

A place for growing up and growing old.

The morning sun shines brightly on the narrow, cobbled streets,

As Jane Golightly rubs the chalky board,

‘Good morning children’ she exclaims ‘Come quickly, take your seats’,

‘Good morning Miss’ they chime with one accord.

Four and twenty little faces beam in adoration,

As teacher’s pet would everyone be known,

For joyfully she bears the burden of their education,

And every one she loves as t’were her own

As prim and proper as they come, the wagging tongues will say,

But maybe not as proper as they think,

For when the bell is rung and school is over for the day,

Jane Golightly likes to take a drink.

A drop or two before her supper helps her to relax,

Another drop to help digest the bread,

As she prepares tomorrow’s test she pours another glass,

Then one or two before she goes to bed.

Medicinal, that’s what it is, or so she tells herself,

A glass of comfort in a lonely life,

Long years now since Jane Golightly sat upon the shelf,

A teacher she will be, but not a wife.

No soul in Banjo Bay can know the secret that she keeps,

It never did her harm, and yet, of late

The devil’s demons hover at her shoulder as she sleeps,

And every morning chalky fingers shake.

No favourite should a teacher have, but rules are made to bend,

To one above all else her time she gives,

That one is little Jacob Brown, a boy who needs a friend,

For miserable the life the poor lad lives.

A mother who was laid to rest the day she gave him life,

A father who should hang his head in shame,

For every time he raises up a heavy hand to strike

The little boy who has to take the blame.

A grubby, frightened face set underneath a mop of curls,

Pouting lips that never learned to smile,

Too old to cry, too young to run from such a cruel world,

Innocence: grown old before it’s time.

No mother’s hand to comb the hair or wash the freckled face,

To gently rub the bruise and ease the pain,

No father’s hand to reassure, to cherish and keep safe,

No friend has he in all the world but Jane.

And now the sorry scene is set. The cottage dark and cold,

Jacob Brown takes up the leather pouch,

There inside he places every treasure that he owns,

Then Jacob, with a pounding heart creeps out.

Toward the lights of Banjo Bay he flies with leaping nerves,

Down to where the little school house stands,

In hopes to find the peace of mind that every child deserves,

Never more to fear a father’s hand.

‘Wake up Jane Golightly!. Come quickly! Let him in!’

‘Your friendship and protection does he seek!’

But lost is Jane Golightly in the deathly grip of gin,

With the devil’s demons does she sleep.

The little town of Banjo Bay prepares to meet the storm,

As Jacob crouches there beside the gate,

A simple cotton vest is all he wears to keep him warm,

A helpless lad, left in the jaws of fate.

And that is where she finds him, betrayed by friend and kin,

The father’s guilt not half as is her own,

For he has offered nothing, and nothing has he given,

But she has offered all and given none.

The morning sun shines down upon a restless, rolling tide,

As Jacob in the grip of fever sleeps,

And there is Jane Golightly sitting at his side.

A sad and silent vigil she must keep.

And now we see her taking up the little leather pouch,

That which he had carried on his flight,

There into her lap the meager trophies tumble out,

Pathetic tokens of a loveless life.

A marble and a penknife, a conker on a cord,

A handkerchief of lace, threadbare and frayed,

And here a little piece of chalk she used upon the board,

And there the scarlet ribbon she mislaid.

Now with her hand upon his heart she takes a sacred vow,

‘No more the demon drink shall pass my lips’,

‘My life I pledge from this day forth to thee, sweet Jacob Brown’,

And now upon his brow she plants a kiss.

A little lad in need of luck and luck comes none too soon,

For Jane Golightly takes the youngster in,

Little lads are hardy things and soon the roses bloom,

The boy who couldn’t smile begins to grin.

And what of he, the father, who had caused this misery,

Away to join the Legion some will say,

Fighting in a foreign land beyond the seven seas,

Never to return to Banjo Bay.

But thicker now than water runs the blood in Jacob’s veins,

And little boys will always need a dad,

Time and distance gently weave their magic spell again,

The villain now a hero to the lad.

Tis many a morning Jane Golightly comes into the room,

To see him dreaming, there beside the step,

Listening for a footfall she knows will never come,

Watching for a face he can’t forget.

But if Mohammed will not come the mountain has to move,

And so it is our story must unfold,

When Jane Golightly comes to wake the object of her love,

The leather pouch is gone. The pillow cold.

The chilling mist rolls in upon the narrow, cobbled streets

As Jane Golightly tosses back another,

Her shaking fingers marking the examination sheets,

A teacher she will be, but not a mother.

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The dawn is gently breaking,
The air serene and still,
No mans land, a grassy field
Just beyond the hill,
The battery, a homestead
With windows welcoming,
The tangled wire a 5 bar gate
Where bluebirds sweetly sing,
Each muddy trench a furrow
Furnished by the plough,
Each tortured cry of misery
The lowing of a cow.
The acrid stench of cordite
Like heaven’s perfume drifts,
To mingle with the belching smoke
Of Autumn’s cooling mist,
Faces dressed in terror
Are smiling as they rest
In crumpled khaki uniforms
As sharp as Sunday best,
This blanket torn, how soft, how warm,
A silken downy sheet,
How sweet, this quiet moment
With all the world at peace.
The dawn is gently breaking,
Sweet Saviour I implore,
Hold back the sun, and let me dream,
For just one moment more.
Cath Turner..2014

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