Yuletide Blues - Diane Scantlebury

Christmas Eve
And I'm in bed,
With bloodshot eyes
And banging head,
Not through over indulgence
As you may think,
Or copious tipples
Of festive drink,

Christmas Day
And I’m in bed,
With a snake rattle cough
That would summon the dead,
So don’t bring me your glad tidings
Of goodwill and wealth,
'Cause my nose is streaming
And I’m feeling sorry for myself,

Boxing Day
And I'm in bed,
Drugged up to the eyeballs
Popped every pill or remedy
That's available to take,
But this Yuletide viral monster
Is impossible to shake,

New Year's Eve
And I’m still in bed,
No chance of testing out
My new suede shoes,
While I'm down in the dumps
With the Yuletide blues,
And the paper tissue shuffle
To keep me awake,
The bronchial rock and roll
Are the only New Year moves
I'm likely to make!

Diane Scantlebury

You Call This A Golden Handshake! - Lester Queripel

Today's poem is a "Golden Oldie" and was originally published here in December 2012.

A golden handcuff, a golden handshake
Surely there’s been some kind of mistake
I’m only fifty-five
I’m still very much alive
Yet I’m being shown the door
They don’t want me anymore
I’ve still got a lot to offer
Yet I have got to suffer
I have to stand in the unemployment line
Wait my turn…………………and sign
They’ve dispensed with all my knowledge
I will now have to summon all my courage
I don’t know how long I can cope with the indignity
We’ll have to wait and see

Lester Queripel

Obituary - Lyndon Queripel

You never stood in the middle
Of a complete silence
Without a pin drop
A curtain call
A breath of wind
Or Summer rain
On the window pane
Without a sound surround
A turn of the tide
A distant dog barking
Children trying to hide
Just laughing outside
Without a bluebird
Singing on the wire
A passing car
A squealing tyre
The tick tock
Of an office clock
Without a radio wave
Telephone tap
Radar trap
Supersonic boom
A jet soaring high
In a cloudless sky
Without a shadowed doubt
A ghostly whisper
In an empty room
A creaking floor
Footsteps in the corridor
Without your heart beating
Pounding, louder, faster
Pulse racing in the gloom
You never even heard
The shot that killed you.

Lyndon Queripel

Gull - Tony Bradley

Grey gull, gliding gracefully
in the September squall
I need only your wings
I have a plaintive call.

Your Autumn is here again
as, indeed, is mine
I, too, just had Summer
but the sun didn't shine.

These seasons, even time itself, have nothing for me
all I care about, everything of worth
was taken from me, before I realised
overseas, to the far side of this earth.

Gull, you now circle the same harbour water
for forty years I've had my tear-filled eyes on
that took Janie away, in a big boat
following the sun, beyond the horizon.

Tony Bradley

Sonnet For Newtown - Andrew Barham

Today's poem is a "Golden Oldie" and was originally published here in December 2012.

Suffer little children come unto me
But not so young for their Maker to see;
Cut down when their lives are just beginning –
What evil hour here is Evil winning?
Madness speaks, and Death untimely answers –
Get thee hence, Death! Cast elsewhere thy grim lures.
Children so young, so fragile filled with hope
For a bright future they will never see;
Through these dull days of endless night we grope;
Our pleas beseech whatever gods there be
Demanding answers from this tragedy:
From meaningless horror, we seek meaning,
Plunged as we are in Grief's bottomless sea –
Instead we hear only children screaming.

Andrew Barham

December 26th - Trudie Shannon

That Angel came again last night
Said Everybody’s missed it.
I can’t understand it.
No he wasn’t born in a stable but
Down at the bottom end of the car park
Between the supermarkets,
In a bus shelter.

No there wasn’t a star as such
Just the old street lamp, often put out by vandals.
But for that moment shining a dim light
Onto the concrete floor
A couple of members from the Salvation Army band
Who’d been playing in the High Street
Passed by, saw what was going on and offered to take her to the hospital,
They said they’d be back shortly, just needed to go and get the car.

Two stray dogs wandered into the shelter
And for no apparent reason stood guard.

A trio of bankers went by soon after, laden with expensive gifts
For spoiled children and ungracious wives
They tut tutted to each other when they saw
The swollen bellied young woman crying in her birth agonies
(Mary was sixteen)
Disgusting, shouldn't be allowed on the streets
Why the hell get pregnant, there's no need to these days.
And in their self righteous indignation, they headed home.

The street light flickered.

The Angel hesitated in recounting his story,
Momentarily seemed overcome with emotion.
He apologised, said I’m sorry
But this bit is so painful, such a terrible waste.

You see, when the Sally Army people came back with the car
The girl had gone, leaving her child wrapped
In a thin scarf inside an old Tesco shopping bag.

The two dogs sat vigilant, either side of it.

Such a cold night.

And with that, the angel disappeared.

Trudie Shannon

Do You Believe? - Ian Duquemin

Do you believe the heavens once held a star?
Guiding the wise men to lands from afar
Travelling miles with gifts they would bring
Knowing they'd find the new king

Do you believe that the shepherds in fields sound asleep
Were summoned by Angels to gather their sheep
As they too must witness the birth of a child
The baby soon born and beguiled

Do you believe that Christ was born on this day?
A saviour then placed in a manger of hay
An innocent child that his father had sent
On which every man could repent

If you do not believe...
Then why do you celebrate Christmas?

Ian Duquemin

I Believe in Santa - Donald Keyman

the powers that be
have ignored everybody's warnings
so we'll be lucky if we see
any ship sailing in
on Christmas day in the morning

the people's fears
are undoubtedly well founded
we shan't see that multi-million pound
millpond boat, but there's still
hope that Santa won't be grounded

Donald Keyman

Song Of The Christmas Turkey - Richard Fleming

We have grown fat, my friends and I,
and although some birdbrains say
these gifts of food Men bring us
must be treated with suspicion,
this I doubt.
I feed on corn aplenty and rejoice,
grow plumply satisfied and portly stout.
My fellows fast become inflated too:
such fine birds with no work at all to do.

I call the doubters paranoid and mock
their pessimistic attitudes and gloom.
Another feast arrives, I gulp it down
then gobble thankful sounds
and strut about.
We grow each day more pillowy and sleek.
Our future is assured, our species blessed.
This is the life, I think, no need to fear:
December is the season of Good Cheer.

Richard Fleming

Festive  Birds - Tony Gardner

Christmas is a-coming
The turkey's in a fright
Dreaming of a butcher
With a hatchet in the night
I don't begrudge you people
Your festive meal, he said
But I don't see why I should die
You could have duck instead

Christmas is upon us
And the ducks are full of fear
To hear the words the turkey spoke
At that dreadful time of year
When every bird was worried
And the ducks all wondered why
The people don't want chicken
It's so easier to fry

Christmas Day is fast approaching
And the chickens don't feel bright
Running wild around and clucking
And afraid to roost at night
They feel that they're hard done by
And they loudly crow and squawk
It isn't fair on poultry
Why can't they just eat pork

Then the hogs there in the pig sty
Set up an awful squeal
We're cooked too much already
Find some other Christmas meal
Something nice like T-Bone steak
Or ox tongue soup might do
For cattle meat's more tasty
And much easier to chew

But the roaring from the bull pen
Seemed to loudly disagree
And it wouldn't do to argue
With a beast as big as he
He snorted then he muttered
I don't see what there's to say
Just go for the tradition
Of a turkey, Christmas day.

Christmas is a-coming
The turkey's in a fright
Dreaming of a butcher
With a hatchet in the night.....

Tony Gardner

December 21 - Stephen A. Roberts

Today's poem is a "Golden Oldie" and was originally published here in December 2012, when, according to some, the world was going to end.

A brace of gin and tonics,
ice and lime;
South American, ironic
as we drink to the end
as predicted by an ancient
calendar, created without
an atomic clock;
invented by just another
delusional cult
who basked in their arrogance
in the face of suspicious ignorance,
weaving their spells
to maintain control
of a craven populace.

If you're reading this tomorrow
then the deadline was missed
and I got pleasantly drunk,
forgot the brandy butter,
parsnips and presents,
not to mention the Mayan days;
I mean, hic, the mayonnaise…

Stephen A. Roberts

Altogether, not a bad trip - Tony Bradley

The youngster trips again, more bruises
luckily his limbs, and his spirit aren't broke
he's got good at falling, though, up quickly and laughing
some people think he tumbles just for a joke.

He'd lie awake at night, worrying, wondering
why he so awkward and clumsy and all
nobody told him, you can't run like the others
you're deformed, unbalanced, you're gonna fall.

Because his feet were growing hoof-like, not flat
they were partly paralyzed, the circulation was poor
this caused callouses and chilblains, and trench-foot
even frostbite, his feet were always sore.

Suffering this daily torture as a youngster
made him very tough to normal pain
although small, he was good at fighting
he could take a punch, but come back again.

His playground boxing skill soon got him some cred
and the bad gang 'adopted' him, their little fighter
so he never ever got bullied, or laughed at
and that probably made his school days brighter.

He loved the games and sports at school
never better than average, but loved to compete
enough skill and timing, but balance always let him down
when a smooth, flowing action required two good feet.

At 15, he passed exams to join the Royal Engineers
the Army Doctor treated it like a joke
“During wartime, in the Regulars, they'd have stuck you up front
but there's no room in the Sappers for a disabled bloke.”

With the black humour he was grinning, but his head was spinning
the word 'disabled' echoed in his ears
this was his problem, right from the beginning
small wonder his anguish, over the years.

The Army doctor referred him to his family GP
who pretended the infant polio was already written down
they suggested, now, special crutches, or surgical boots
after 15 years trying to be normal, he suddenly felt a clown.

He took it on board, now this polio tag
to him, it was like a 'get out of jail' card
Now, he just had to do his best,
or do something else, if things got too hard.

He worked on building sites, got accepted, no problem
mind you do your job, everybody gets on fine
but suddenly the 'elf n' safety' boys came in
they thought he was drunk, couldn't walk a straight line.

Mustn't work at heights, no heavy power tools,
no carrying loads over twenty-five K
"for his sake, and the safety of others"
no more manual stuff, he had to walk away.

He'd gone a full circle now, returning to architecture
despite some saying he was too dim, when he left school
but, he was artistic, and knew a lot about building now
he'd carve a career out of it, now he's nobody's fool.

Now he's in his Autumn years, reminiscing
he's had some fun, he's not one to snivel
now he's in the garden, or beachcombing with the dog
and his real raison d'etre, spewing rhyming drivel.

Tony Bradley

Ship In The Sky - Lyndon Queripel

The morning Sun was warm and bright
Over the fields not far from home
When there was a flash of light
A shimmering of polished chrome

I've seen a ship in the sky
I've seen a flying machine

I've no proof, I've no photograph
I half expected you to laugh

There were no engines, no silver wings
And no sound filled the air
I thought I was seeing things
As I watched it disappear

I've seen a ship in the sky
I've seen a flying machine

It left me in wonder, it left me in awe
And it left me wanting to see more.

Lyndon Queripel

Port Soif revisited, on a calm day - Bryony de Lat

Some years away, I may decay, or die today, . . either way
I listed some sick soundtracks, for the day I'm to burn
and at this special venue, may I ask, can you . . .
scatter my ashes, without pomp, turn the urn.

Here, when the tide's high, it's a tropical lagoon
yet some locals still race off, on an annual chase
having saved up their wages, they scour travelogue pages,
but there really is no more beautiful place.

Bryony de Lat

Grizzlies In Town - Andrew Barham

Today's poem is a "Golden Oldie" and was originally published here in December 2012.

Where have all the Black Bears gone?
Eaten by Grizzlies every one!
So many Grizzlies in town –
One night last Summer
There were nine strolling around;
In The Village, a young male built his den
And all the little children to school in cars went then;
Mothers with cubs on the edge of the school grounds
Raiding gardens and dumpsters
And annoying the wife of the new parson –
It reminds me of a cartoon by Gary Larsen:
Bears on a fishing dock flossing their teeth
With fishing line to clean out bits of meat –

Yet! I've never actually seen a Grizzly
Though I've been within ten feet of a mother and cubs
Hidden from view by the thick brush along the trail –
She let me know I wasn't welcome.

Andrew Barham

The Human Sickness - Ian Duquemin

Human beings spread their sickness
Poisoning our Mother Earth
Yet she forgives and grants us life
With every new born baby's birth

Still we take, returning nothing
Planting only seeds of hate
Mother Earth embraces all
But too controls our fate

Every living, breathing, earthling
All have purpose, all the same
None have rights to be more worthy
Yet we are to blame

We the scourge of all the living
Think that we're superior
But one day Mother Earth shall teach
The meaning of inferior

Ian Duquemin

Men In Ice - Richard Fleming

Three figures, shrouded by a broken tent,
lie, curled like question marks, in icy death.
A group of living men
with breaths, collectively,
like exhaled ghosts,
pronounce a brief but solemn prayer
and execute one last salute,
then leave departing footprints in fresh snow.

Years pass.
A century of change occurs.
Two great wars come.
God dies.
Prayers seem a waste of effort.
Man strives for planets not for poles.
Sons become fathers, grandfathers, then dust.
Scott, Bowers, Wilson, shrouded still,
lie frozen in Antarctica,
as far from home as any man can be.
Entombed in ice, preserved
unchanged, they seem to sleep.

Amongst the floating bergs
a massive silence rings.

Richard Fleming

Pink Sky - Kathy Figueroa

Pink sky
Pure snow
Fluffy white crystals
Blanket the ground
Silence reigns
All around
During this time
Of rebirth
...If only this peace
Could cover the Earth...

Kathy Figueroa

"Pink Sky" was published on February 3, 2011, in The Bancroft Times newspaper.

Syrian Carol - Diane Scantlebury

Ding dong not so merrily on high,
When bombs are raining from the sky,
Find some shelter if you can,
There’ll be no peace
In your fair land,

The wise men have voted from afar,
To send their birds of Armageddon
Against your wayward rebels to fight,
No chance of negotiation or reconciliation now,
They’ve scores to settle
And to flex their might,

Ding dong not so merrily
For Syria upon high,
More homes to be blasted into rubble,
More innocents to die.

Diane Scantlebury

Closure - Tony Bradley

Strange, at last, years later,
the numb shock's gone away
the cruel pain I can live with
you just couldn't stay.

Hideously; suddenly, no warning,
I just wasn't to know
I like to think you were called,
and somehow prepared to go.

This must be your sweet work
this peace now shone through
'cos everything good in my life,
it all started with you.

It seems suddenly again, my life is worthwhile,
for no new reason, it's hard to explain
the memory of you is protecting me now
as if we're sharing some happiness again.

Tony Bradley

A Time Of The Signs - Lyndon Queripel

As I looked out this Monday morning
The birds were coughing on the wires
The sky bled and the smog was red
With the Sun almost breaking through
Yawning, I heard the sirens warning
Today there would be no coal fires
Again there was a pain in my head
I knew my prescription was overdue

A newsflash late on the State radio
Said that California was on the slide
The mystery of history held no clues
And the weather wasn't altogether fair
The clock was slow and so I had to go
Outside to ride on the rush hour tide
Elevated, escalated and calculated queues
A free for all to share in the stale air

Well I don't know but I've been told
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
The meek shall inherit the Earth
And that patience is indeed a virtue
But when a distant love grows cold
A fond heart will often wander
And incidentally for what it's worth
There's a "No Waiting" sign next to you.

Lyndon Queripel

Late Night Shopping - Donald Keyman

The Donkey is in the Town again,
blinking in the festive lights
window shopping in the internet showroom
until the rain provides the necessary excuse
to stop looking for this season's holy grail;

The relief provided by this
meteorological curfew shows in his face,
as he joins the drinkers in the De La Rue
to await the late night shopping bus back home,
the annual pilgrimage over once more.

Donald Keyman

Cave Paintings - Stephen A. Roberts

The stone age warrior
sits in his cave
and admires his handiwork,
paintings crudely sketched by his primitive hand
in blood and ochre, scenes of hunting and slaughter.
In the flickering light of the fire,
some of the figures appear to move.

The drone age warrior
sits in his cave
and witnesses his handiwork,
the paintings are not his, though still rendered by his hand
scenes in blood and ochre, of hunting and slaughter.
Fires are flickering, but
none of the figures appear to move.

Stephen A. Roberts

Where Man Had Been - Ian Duquemin

If everybody grew a tree
Including them and you and me
Our planet may begin to thrive
And in its beauty come alive
We'd breathe in air so clean and pure
Have pride in what each human saw
Something that we all gave back
To stop our cruel attack
And maybe in a future bright
A visitor may see a sight
A view that eyes had never seen
The wondrous place where man had been
An Eden for eternity
Designed by them and you and me
With healing hands the seeds we'd sown
Had saved our broken home

Ian Duquemin

Memories - Trudie Shannon

Our first kiss in a thrice built shed, wood smoke curling between us.
Our exchange of symbolic gifts.
The soft drift of a whispered story melding us together in the darkness.
Reunion in a bleak underground station, where strangers said "Never part".
Scrawling our small angel amidst pebbles and seaweed.
Rock hopping like misguided would be ballet dancers, chasing the tides.
Stone skimming to the earth’s end and still smiling.
And the tale of The Little Prince that wound around us
Binding us together in invisible glue.
You do not remember our first kiss
But if I remind you, perhaps you will glimpse our yesterdays
And be like Pooh bear who taught us that the uncarved block
Is as beautiful in history as it is in the present.

Trudie Shannon

Another World - Diane Scantlebury

I’ve drifted into another world
A place where many happy moments are spent,
A secret place, hidden within my head
Where balloons and bubble thoughts invent,
An inner sanctum where I can dream,
Word concoctions brew
And new imaginings scheme.

Diane Scantlebury

The Butterfly - Liz Woodington

Today's poem is a "Golden Oldie" and was originally published here in December 2012

Flying in the sky,
Fluttering her alluring wings,
Is a beautiful butterfly,
Totally free and alive,
Full of elegance and grace,
Displaying complete splendour.

Beneath the colourful wings
There is a story,
A life of hardship,
And of immense struggle.
To reach this place of glory
Shea has been on a journey,
A journey packed with difficulty
Which sometimes got extremely tough,
A journey of transformation
Changing her from insignificant
To someone of great value.

And if you were able to ask her
Was it all worth it?
Her answer
Most certainly would but

Liz Woodington

Georgia - Bryant Doyle

I've gone all unnecessary, get a grip, . . . there SHE is
My heart's gone all funny, and I've got the cramps
the most beautiful thing that ever walked this Earth
and I'm old enough to be her Gramps.

Old men still appreciate women, like good wines and ports
with their knowledge they can admire, though not partake
I've always had my own short list of tipples and snorts
but my unofficial role of wine-buff, I now gladly vacate.

Having just seen her, that list is nonsense
if scribbled on paper, it would be up in smoke
. ..God in Heaven, . . . DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS . . .
ignore me, I've died, I'm a happy bloke.

The (slight) age difference could invoke inappropriate response
hence the analogy women to wine, a cunning disguise
but it's only from a distance I look at GEORGIA
'cos I just melt when as I gaze into her eyes.

Bryant Doyle

It's Winter - Kathy Figueroa

Today's poem is a "Golden Oldie" and was originally published here in December 2012

It's winter, right now
In the Northern Hemisphere
There's much darkness
Cold weather and snow
So people try to spread good cheer
Festive outdoor lights are strung
To brighten up the gloom
Pretty decorations are hung
In the living room
People reconnect with
Friends and relatives they
Haven't seen for awhile
Folks go out of their way
To make others smile
At this time it's hoped
That everyone will feel like
They belong to one big family
Regardless of origin or creed
Everyone is welcome
Around the Christmas tree

Kathy Figueroa

Am I in Rochester? - Tony Bradley

My little brother and I sometimes looked after Aunt Winnie
Mother would bring her, but herself not stay
turns out Aunt Winnie wasn't a relative at all
but we had to watch her, sometimes all day.

Her mind used to wander, we were too young to realise
we just thought she was mad, or a witch
we used to play along, in her ramblings
we were either afraid, or amused, I can't remember which.

"Am I in Rochester . . .tickets please . . .mind the doors
let the cat out, Beryl, two-and-thruppence, . . .where's my hat ?"
We'd assume our roles, both looking for the 'hat', and stamp her ticket,
and I'd be 'Beryl', and remove the 'cat'.

If we were older and wiser, we'd have understood better
although, in a way, for Aunt Winnie it was good
she wanted to go back to happier times
and the days she was with us, the dear old soul could

Tony Bradley

Autumn (Nature's Artist) - Ian Duquemin

Soon the seasons change in colour
Blending into one another
Mosaic leaves shall paint the land
Enhanced by Mother Nature's hand
Reds and browns will cover all
As from the trees the colours fall
Spiralling before they lay
As autumn's own display

Ian Duquemin

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