2012 Poetry Theme Challenges
#21 The Best Years
Some say childhood years are the best. The days we were free to play and imagine before the heavy duty side of life kicked
in and we had to earn a living, keep our own homes seem to be blissful indeed. These days kids seem consumed by hi-tech and not
the simple games of my childhood and I wonder how many of them will remember possessing a precious "twelvsie" marble, so called
because I had shattered 12 marbles belonging to my friends with it, or sending a Dinky car on a death trip on a plastic track
that spiralled down the stairs. So the challenge this time is the toys and games from our childhoods before the Xboxes and Wiis
The Best Years
Opening my toybox after all this time
Silent tears begin to fall down my face
Seeing memories covered in dust and grime.
The beings there all lie sentient now
Uncared for, ignored, yet alive somehow.
Yes! Aware and alive and still with form
For what is memory but a previous norm?
It's a place of solitude with so much around.
There is no one to understand my place.
Yet no-one would know just by the sound?
Those within saw my look and my shame,
They knew of my life, I was not to blame.
So we sat and talked all through the night
By the following morn everything was right.
Colours From My Toybox
It's something I did when I was alone,
Cognisant now but never repentant
To all intents, by my parents unknown.
I did nothing I was ashamed of.
Aeroplanes and nudes, I would paint
Too young to know or care about love,
My sketchings in a book, I wasn't a saint.
Before I was taught to write in verse
I used crayons and sketches as my escape
Everyone seemed older which was worse.
My parents would leave me in charge
And frustrations and desires would discharge.
But I didn't go to bed when I said I would
My use of crayons was well understood.
Perhaps by that time I'd seen too much strife
And overheard too many conversations
My crayons released my feelings about life.
Even then realising the hypocrisy of adults
My innocence belying awakening sensations,
They refused to allow me in their council
My coloured crayons, became my expressions.
Noiseless always as my feelings were birthed
On cartridge paper solid enough to draw on
To hold my feelings, for what they were worth.
Would you like to join me here in my recall?
Watching the world go by, sit here quick
Choose one of my crayons, here take your pick
But not the dark red it's my favourite of all.
Heartbreak in the Toybox
Did you lie to me 'cause of what I see,
Or were you just lying to feel good?
Owli looks at you and then at me.
He blinks, looks confused and cries,
The others in the Toybox sit, stunned.
Were you lying to you, believing your lies?
Wambi, so tough yet so soft, sobs gently.
And I have felt his pain times before
He is crying because he trusted you,
It's hard to trust, yet he did once more.
My heart, yes it is broken! See, I bleed,
And I gave to you, I gave all I had inside.
Kanga looks accusingly at you and your deed
We all loved you and were fooled as you lied.
Hearts Lost in the Toybox
The music being played is sad now,
And Kanga wipes away a little tear,
Even Wambi has a little sniffle to show
She has gone away and they miss her,
For even toys have souls and feelings.
It began that first day that was just a blur
I had ignored them for my other dealings
Then I knew I had lost them to her,
But I didn't mind, they had lost me.
And ignored me, I was only a bother.
Now a sad little band's gathered here,
She hurt more than me when she went away
Now each one's lost, and sharing the misery
What would it take for her to stay?
Even Owli is sad and speechless.
The bright colours of the toybox
Look drab, lifeless and meaningless.
Kanga's swinging his tail in a corner
Then moved away as unimportant,
And in his home he is a foreigner,
We all try to forget her, but we can't.
An hour is too long without her,
Two weeks has days too many hours,
We want her here, now, right there.
We must wait until cloth hearts heal
And mine surely is my main concern
But my heart is not made of cloth
Will that also heal with her return?
I spent so much time in love's joy
I simply forgot all about myself
Now I am just another cast off toy.
Just gathering dust on your shelf.
Promising you love me with a smile.
The only one you love is yourself
And I'm defunct no longer in style.
The model you desire is new.
Now I lie here just a cast off
Not even a memory with you.
Whilst you have moved on
I've been replaced by a wannabe
I'm wishing only that with time
You will once against want me.
Marbles in my Toybox
I hold a complete universe in a small black tin
Containing marbles, small round imagined spheres
There a young boy sees his imagination begin.
Forming stories, adventures I'd play my part
The glass became the sea, the colour the land;
A world with dreams and voyages on demand
Holding a glass ball; an adventure would start.
There in the Land of Nod reality was not fit
On some worlds defending freedom, is the norm
And free will has not been granted nor will it.
In this Garden of Eden, anything was norm
Strangely this globe is never cold, always warm.
I will never ever part with this collection
In writing my will I must use circumspection.
My Toybox at First
There was a time when my Toybox was all
In there was Kanga, Wambi, and Dingo, my pals,
And above us was Owli, the clock on the wall.
When I was young I'd to talk to Owli all night
Together we would get into a terrible maul
In the deepest danger we'd hear his call
He'd sit and listen and help, make things right.
Together we'd escape from that dangerous state
And later brag about what fun we'd had
But who had saved us was Owli our mate.
He just sat there, never saying a word
But we knew who had saved us each time
And never given him any credit, our crime
In those days to apologise was just absurd.
Tears in my Toyboxt
I was 10 and playing with my friends
My father saw me and packed a wobbly
Your too old for this, this is where it ends.
So I closed the lid on them and walked away
My tin soldiers were the finest in the world,
Only the meccano and leggo allowed to play
So a different pattern of behaviour unfurled.
During the week when my father was away
I'd do what I liked because he couldn't see
But at weekends I daren't go astray.
Kanga and Wambi knew right from the start,
And wise old Owli, obviously knew more.
They knew that very soon we'd have to part
They all knew our friendship was no more.
Guilt is a Heavy Burdon
I gave up everything for you
You became my favourite toy
There wasn't anything I wouldn't do.
Wambi and the others look at me
I see the accusation in their eyes
And feel their betrayal justifiably
I wonder, dare I compromise
Owl sits there, he's far wiser than I
But he just sits there and looks so sad
As if to say; "why! Why! WHY!"
I turn away guilt, it's a heavy burden,
And use the excuse that I am older.
But then I realise all of a sudden
They too are older, and only need me.
Future of the Toybox
Today I was reminded of my past
My grandkids were looking in my toybox
And Kanga and Wambi cried out, "At last".
Even Owli's replacement looked and smiled
Realising that dream life had begun again.
We have now a different Owl and child
But the same Kanga and Wambi reign.
The same Kanga and Wambi that I loved
Have moved on but sense my lineage
And will carry on knowing its approved.
They will show the girls their dreams
And with them their fantasies play
Until adulthood and all its schemes
Will ultimately seduce them away.
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Images of play shall come into view
When he opens the page of a book
But what he see's may not be true
As imagination takes over his mind
Not everyone shall think the same
And finds visions of another kind
Imagination shall take the blame
He see's before him green fields
Flying high his kite over the brook
Is this really what his image yields
Or fantasy within a childs dream
He see's what he wants to believe
To be always what it might seem
That only a dream shall conceive.
I recall days when my life was young
So green the country had featured
There at the top of my voice I sung
I was happy to be there on my own
For deep inside instincts had flown
To a safe retreat I felt complete
All my life I had been so discreet
Where e`er feelings of passion lay
If only to be complete upon my own
It was here I forever want to stay
Friends I had of beast and birds
To them only I spoke soft of words
Yet I found myself for many a day
Yearning for more in a natural way.
Art By Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale
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Standing on the threshold of adulthood
The building blocks and games became the past
Long days of laughter turned and vanished fast
The need for play we all misunderstood.
I swapped the plastic dolls for crimson lips
Replacing Barbie in fashion's parade
Whilst swilling beer instead of lemonade
And cashing-in the worker’s green payslips.
The years have passed to times of looking back
I wonder where it went off the dreamy track
The career failed to path my way in gold
From 9 to 5 never giving any slack
I'm looking back and feeling time grow old
As childhood dreams return to make me bold.
My Dearest Fred
Through darkest nights I had a friend
To hold my hand and wipe my tears
My broken heart was his to mend.
His name was Fred, my special mate
We came together, it was fate
My other toys I've put away
But Fred, he's here with me to stay.
My childhood secrets we would share
The hopes and dreams, and deepest fears
When no one else was there to care.
The only bear to hold my heart
How years have worn your seams apart
I've mended you from toe to head
To keep you near my dearest Fred.
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open your petals
and let me smell you,
wrap your arms around me
and enfold me in your manifold charms.
I am not a busy bee
nor am I a humming bird
but I will love you pleasantly,
enraptured by your nectar.
don't be shy
I am weary but not wanton
I am but a traveller,
no common thief or highwayman
but still I would inspect your treasure.
Open your petals
and let me bury my nose
in your sweet and lovely fragrance,
let me savour the early morning's
dew drop on your trembling flesh
with my eager and curious tongue
- I am no drunkard or vagabond
merely a man in need of such sustenance
as only you can provide.
open your petals
open them wide
now is the hour
shower me with thirst-quenching love.
I am not a hawk
nor an I a dove,
I am merely a man and a poet,
fallen, fallen from above.
The daffodil and daisy
the buttercup and rose...
I loved them for a little while
but then I saw you burning
like a little golden chalice
gleaming in the gloaming.
I have run through twilight fields to seek you,
my legs all torn with thorns;
do not close your heart to me
or give me to the Moon's white worms
- open your petals
and keep me from all cold and harm.
I would climb the old forgotten staircase
made of perfume and dreams
and walk upon the mist-wreathed banks
of the lovely crystal stream that meanders
through the Land of the Everlasting
where Angus Og walks forever between green hills
and Pan is always playing his pipes
beneath eternal summer stars...
Open your flower
now is the hour
together our comingled essences
will climb the staircase and the ladder;
quickly now, before some mischievous zephyr
blows this dreaming world away
like a puff of incense or smoke.
Up the gently spiralling slope
pull me by the golden rope
through the sky's secret trapdoor
carefully concealed in Heaven's sweet-meadowed floor
by God before he fled the world
to chase a pretty flower girl.
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Maryse and PeterScooldays
Chocolate bear days and licorice dreams
when you could buy Four Walkers, Four Fruit Salad
or Four Black Jacks for just a penny,
crowded shoulder to shoulder in the Tuck Shop
before the school bell rang.
Lucky Bags and Flying Saucers,
Swizzles, Lovehearts and Aniseed Balls,
toasted coconut tobacco and sweet cigarettes
(a full chocolate Smiker's Kit ay Christmas with chocolate
cigarettes and cigars, a chocolate pipe, matches and lighter).
Floral tablets and Acid Drops,
Kola Kubes and tubes of Smarties,
Chocolate Eggs and frozen Jublies,
jelly-beans and jelly-babies,
sugar mice and twigs of Sticky Bark;
wine-gums, toffee apples,
and for the old ladies, butterskotch and barleysugar,
Everton Mints and Old Fashioned Spangles.
Mars Attacks and American Civil War gum and cards
with pictures so violent and gory
there were calls to have them banned...
Is it any wonder that when we finally exited the Assembly Hall
to go to lessons, having sung the praises of Jesus
and been admonished to bring our School Fund in on time
we twitched and fiddled at our ancient, initial scarred desks,
flicking inly pellets of paper at each other,
passing secret messages and drawing of robots and nudes
feet and fingers tapping, tongues and senses buzzing
far too much to pay attention to the mundane facts of
Geography and History, French verbs
or balancing quadrilateral equations,
waiting for the eleven o clock bell signalling break when we all piled out
into the playground to play football or tag or watch the inevitable fight in the corner
behind the bike shed, shouting and eager for the first bright drops of blood
to stain the dirty concrete red...
I started school late, I was almost six
I remember the first day my Mum took me in
To register me and then to get the things I needed.
I was thrilled with my books, bag, pencils, sharpeners and erasers
My lunch kit and uniforms, white shoes and socks...
We even had to wear a tie.
But when the day rolled around that I was due to start
I was a mess. I fought, and kicked and screamed.
For weeks my cousin, older by four years,
Would bring me home at lunchtime,
She, perspiring, huffing and puffing.
Me in floods of tears, sobbing.
Sometimes she was sympathetic, at other times
She would tell me, as she dragged me along,
"I really don't like you Maryse Achong."
After all I was taking her away from her friends and her lunch break,
Though I couldn't care less... I just needed to get home.
My parents tried everything.
My Mum would make up funny songs as she bathed and dressed me
At mornings and I would be crying.
They questioned me gently, spoke to my teacher. It was
Quite simple. My answer was:
"I don't want to go to school..." why couldn't they just understand that.
She packed things I liked in my lunch kit and
I would leave with my Dad and older brother.
He would give me pocket change for the tuck shop.
By then I would be fine, but by late morning
I would be bawling like a banshee.
When my cousin couldn't or wouldn't bring me home,
I would cry so hard that
My teacher would drive me home.
Then suddenly everything changed...
I made new friends and began to enjoy school.
I was up in the mornings, showered and dressed and eager to
Get going... my parents, and no doubt my cousin and teacher, breathed
Sighs of relief.
They say they are the best days of our life
but for some they are days of endless strife,
bullying and despair over coming exams,
breeding grounds for drug addiction and petty crime
- not everybody survives the system
- how many shoot outs and massacres take place
every year in the land of the free
and virtual lack of gun control?
Checkpoints at the gates in search of knives.
It all seemed so much simpler forty years ago
Where, I wonder, did innocence go?
Even small islands in the sun
Are under threat of knife and gun
Within the very walls
Of those once hallowed halls
Of education, learning.
Those were the days of fun and fears
Of madcap joy, of bitter tears
Yet still we always knew
We were the lucky few
And there were others yearning
To have that chance; and now it’s free
Some have no sense of loyalty
They show no gratitude,
Display bad attitude...
Old values quickly spurning.
What has happened to our children?
Where did we go wrong?