“Let’s count the pigeons !” That’s just what she said, As she pointed out a trio pecking pavement up ahead. One was grey and one was blue and one was sandy brown – “I bet we get to fifty by the other side of town !” So hand-in-hand, we kept the tally, Up the street and down the alley.
“Let’s count dandelions !” another time she said, As she pointed out a golden host within a council bed. Some were buds and some were clocks and some were full of roar – “I bet we find a hundred round behind the superstore !” So side-by-side, we kept on counting, Till we reached the rusty fountain.
“Look at all the wrigglers !” on a rainy day she said, As she pointed out the molluscs that had made us watch our tread. Some were black and some were brown and some were rusty nails – “I’ll count all the sluggies up, and you can count the snails !” So one-by-one, we kept the score, But I forget who had the more.
“Look at all the people !” on a sunny day she said, As she pointed to the crowds that loitered while the man was red. Some were old and some were young and some were inbetween – “I bet we see a dozen more before the beeps and green !” So back-to-back, against the crush, We totted up the lunchtime rush.
“Look at all the pigeons !” just the other day I said, As I pointed out a posse crowding round a crust of bread. Some were fat and some were thin…but none were worth her gaze – “Oh dad, you always say that when we meet on access days.” So that was that, no longer fun – Our number-taking days were done.
A running bump along my arm Is memory that I was scarred – The grave to mark a childhood tear That now you’d scarcely know was there. I got it playing down the farm, Or maybe tripping in the yard – I must have hit the surface hard, But in the end did no real harm. A trophy I must always wear, A lesson learned, a minor scare – I smile to think how I am marred, And like to stroke it sometimes, like a charm.
It sits beside my first tattoo, That’s self-administered, indeed – A careless stab with ball-point pen, A funny-coloured freckle, then. It used to be a deeper blue, As if I’m of a noble breed – It must have hurt, but didn’t bleed, And now just sits there, still in view. I could not even tell you when, But certainly by age of ten. It can’t be scrubbed, it can’t be freed – I like to poke it sometimes, as y’do.
I guess you’re still alive, Somewhere out there, Somewhere new. I guess you’re busy busy, In your never-ending rush. I know that you’ll survive You’re latest dare – You always do. I guess that you don’t miss me, You were never one to gush.
You love to do it all, To paint your skin In polychrome – You’ll find another place to stay, And then you’ll disappear. I know that when I call, You won’t be in, You won’t be home. I’ll leave a message anyway I know you’ll never hear.
But then, from out the blue, An absent ring, A sudden voice, And down a noisy line I hear your Sunday morning walk. I know before you speak it’s you – I’m listening, I have no choice – I just pretend I’m fine As I let you talk and talk.
Now whether Jesus was or not, There surely were an infant lot Who could succumb to Herod’s plot: Their bodies drawn and quartered. But where was God to stay these brutes, And spare His people’s tender fruits, And never let His nation’s roots With newborn-blood be watered ? For what uncaring god divine Would only spare His royal line ? His Promised Land – incarnadine, His folk – unsoned, undaughtered. Rejoice ! The children never died, The massacre was not applied – The priests are wrong – the Bible lied: The innocents unslaughtered.
It is easy, far too easy, At this mawkish time of year, To call it crass and sleazy, And commercialised veneer. Muzak-strewn and wheezy, And bubble-wrapped and cheesy, And cuddle-cute and queasy, And worthy of our smuggest sneer. But once we’d dowsed the festive ember, How then would we warm December ?
It is simple, far too simple At this twinkly time of year To only see the pimple On the face of winter cheer – The self-appointed saviour And the goon from Scandinavia Who spy on our behaviour, Yet who we’re told we should revere. So kids must don a wimple On their thoughts, and simper insincere With innocence of dimple, And conviction in the flying deer.
There’s very little needs to change, Just don’t forget that kids are smart – There’s plenty in this world that’s strange Without the need for lies to start. Tell them all the pretty stories, Tell them that they are just stories, Tell them thanks to Newton’s glories, How we know that deer can’t fly. Tell them that it doesn’t matter – Love them as they are, reply. Birds are tiny, deer are fatter, That’s the price for antler-clatter – Evolution tells us why, Despite what stories say. Robins cannot haul a sleigh, As deer cannot fill the sky.
Crackers crack and streamers stream With gingerbread and clotted cream, And dancing fairy lights a-glow Between the carols and the snow There’s something this year diff’rent, though…
Look, I don’t mean to scare you, It isn’t something that’s gonna hurt – I just thought I ought to prepare you, To keep your eyes and wits alert. Because you’re growing up, you see – It can’t be helped, it has to be.
Yeah yeah, it’s all that mushy stuff, That touchy-feely slushy stuff, That boring stuff like peace and love – I guess you’ll find out soon enough.
There comes a time as you grow older And the snow turns into sleet, When sprouts have grown a little colder, And the needles prick your feet – It isn’t much, just little things As you become aware, I guess, Of all the cold the Winter brings, When tinsel shines a little less.
Don’t worry, there’s still lots of fun – And presents – when all’s said and done. I guarantee you’ll have a ball – I mean, it’s Christmas, after all ! And all that carey-sharey stuff, Comes nat’rally – it’s not so tough When you are growing big and tall – I guess you’ll find out, soon enough.
I wrote this several years ago, so when I say “There’s something this year diff’rent, though…” this isn’t meant as a reference to the bizarre upending that is 2020.
Parents, hey ? But what can we do ? They’re everso old, but it’s hard to remember. They talk about Santa as if he were true, And force us to visit him ev’ry December. They want it so magic, and find it appalling When robins are fighting and snowflakes aren’t falling. And can you believe that they really believe In such a ridiculous story ? When even a six-year-old kid can perceive It’s not just his beard that’s hoary. But how can we tell them ? But how can we hush them ? We cannot dispel them, the heartbreak would crush them. They joyfully, eagerly, giddily smoulder, Until they explode on the Eve. We hope they’ll grow out of it when they get older, But right now, just let them believe.
They really think gravity’s losing its drag, It sticks to our feet, but it won’t stick to Santa’s. They talk about Rudolph as if she’s a stag When only the does, come December, have antlers: Now Helga ! Now Freya ! Now Magda and Bretta ! On Ingrid ! On Astrid ! On Dagmar and Greta ! He makes all our toys with his workforce of elves, And only by sleigh they’re arriving. But why do they look like the ones on the shelves ? It sounds like our Santa’s been skiving. But how can we tell them ? But how can we plunder ? We cannot dispel them, their innocent wonder. They’re joyfully, eagerly, giddily merry, And thoroughly cute and naive. So hang up the stockings and leave out the sherry And once more pretend we believe.
Patsy Doe, a girl that I know, Hates semolina second to none – She find it just so stodgy-slow When puddings are meant to be fun ! Her mamma tells her “Patsy, really ! It’s only a bowl of unmolded spaghetti. Just think of it as chopped-up fusilli, And eat up all your dessert already.” (Ah, poor mamma, you’ve no idea just what you’ve done !)
From this moment on, young Patsy Becomes enamoured by dried clumps of wheat – She reads gluttonously, so that she Can understand each straw and sheet – Strings and pens and pipes and worms, Shells and wheels and butterflies – So many forms, so many terms, She wants to try them all for size. (Ah, poor mamma, so many types to cook and eat !)
So Patsy learns the difference Of tagliatelle and fettucini, (Like how her brother can tell at a glance A Maserati from Lamborghini.) She tells her fam’ly of how Columbus Ate up his pasta dry, of course – Until he discovered the tomato, thus He finally created the perfect sauce. (Ah, poor mamma, too much pasta means no bikini !)
Patsy Doe, a girl that I know, Finds carb makes her grow up faster – Time to shake up the status quo And swap her olive oil for castor. Enough of the childish alphabetti, And ravioli parcels with loot in – With Atkins, maybe she’ll be less sweaty, And none of the cool kids are eating gluten. (Ah, poor mamma, with cupboards full of uncooked pasta…)