Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I’ve chosen one of pareeerica’s Gothic Fairy Tale images for Read Write Image prompt #14 on Thursday. I was going to write a poem about the big end going on a motor bike and tying that in to a relationship, using the random word generator (blurt, sprocket, rasp) but I’ve spent most of the morning researching motor bikes. I know sweet nothing about motor bikes so this needs more time. So instead of either of these, here is a poem based on an image I’ve been carrying round in my head for a while. I’m also putting this poem on the Monday Poetry Train.


Long before most of us,
they had TV, sent the children
to private school, wanting
to give them the best
of opportunity. We drove
from London to Slough
every Sunday afternoon.
I went to the local school, told
the other kids that Wendy
was my best friend, fell asleep
in the back of the car
on the journey home.

Long before I did, Wendy
left home. Her mother has lived
alone now for several years.
I’ve driven my Mum, newly widowed,
to this same house in Slough.
The china tea cup jangles
against the saucer
in Hetty’s hand.


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A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, a long time ago, two peoples lived together in a magnificent land. They were alike in every way apart from their eyes: the Aristians had blue eyes and the Proliens had brown eyes. Some Prolien elders also claimed to  discern a difference in the cadence of their voices. The Aristians lived in the most fertile parts of the land, where the resources were most plentiful whereas the Proliens were concentrated in areas where the land was poor and there were few resources. Their children received little or no education.  Eventually, most of the Aristians lived inside the walls of the cities where the Proliens were only allowed in to work or on ceremonial occasions. The two peoples lived separate lives.

Life was hard for the Proliens but hope was kept alive by the prophecy that every mother passed on to her children. One day, a mighty prince would rule over the land. He would have brown eyes like them and he would rule with love, wisdom and justice. “How can this be?” the children would ask. “The Aristians keep us outside the walls. We will never be powerful enough to overthrow them.”

One day, the Aristians were celebrating a royal marriage, when a Prolien woman pushed through the crowd and sat down in front of the royal carriage as it passed through the streets. The king was beside himself with rage and had her thrown into prison. The Prolien people were also getting angry: they were tired of being humble all the time. This woman was an inspiration to them. They started to demonstrate in order to voice their grievances. To their surprise, they found leaders amongst their numbers. One leader’s eloquent speech gave them a dream of a better future, hardening their resolve. They won concessions. One  Aristian king finally agreed that the Proliens should receive a proper education alongside their Aristian peers.

Aristian kings continued to rule over the land: some were good and some were not so good. When Princess Aurora announced that she was pregnant, she received the best care available. However, as the time for her confinement drew near, she became more and more withdrawn; there was a mysterious expression in her clear blue eyes. When she gave birth to a son, everyone was delighted until the midwife noticed the colour of his eyes: they were brown.

In the months that followed, many wise men put forward as to why the young prince’s eyes were brown. Maybe he was a throwback to many generations earlier and the king’s line was not as pure as he had claimed. Maybe her husband did not have a pure Aristian pedigree. The princess listened to all the arguments going on around her with the same mysterious look in her eyes as when she was pregnant but she kept the truth to herself.

And so the prophecy came to pass. The prince grew up to be gracious to all his subjects; both Aristians and Proliens, with whom he  mixed with equal ease. When the time came for him to marry, he chose a Prolien woman. This shocked his grandparents at first, but such was his charm that he won them round.  What they didn’t know was that a well as his brown eyes, and the cadence of his voice, discernible to some of the elders,  a big part of his heart belonged to the Prolien people.

My perspective  on the inauguration of Barrack Obama, as the 44th president of the United States of America is affected by having a mixed race grandson. Most of us have mixed ancestry but this shows up most dramatically when one parent is black and the other is white. I see iObama as resolving the binary opposition between black and white. He has identified with the black community by marrying a black woman, a descendent of slaves, but he also owes much of who he is to his white mother and grandparents.

I’m aware that what I’m presenting here is too simplistic. I’ve glossed over the question of identity and colour isn’t the only thing that divides people; language and religion are also a source of conflict.

The following poem was in my first ever blog post on 24.09.06.

To My Grandson

Slung between cultures, your cradle is rocked
Between two islands half a world apart;
Your Taiwanese grandmother’s shaken and shocked;
Her daughter’s betrothal has broken her heart.
Forsaking tea houses where your forbears fled,
You may come to England to make a new start;
She makes chicken soup to counter her fear
Whilst I long to hold you and play a small part.

The tribes of Europe have mingled and merged
Through conquest and change of location;
Shamrock, flamenco, a Russian Jew’s smile,
Bed down with developing nation.

The future belongs to small people like you,
As east meets with west you’ll surely win through.

(Rupert Sebastian or Kai Chiang was born in Taiwan on November 3rd 2002. He now lives in Switzerland where he is being educated in French.)

Blue Mink – Melting Pot

Ceremonies is the prompt at Totally Optional Prompts and cadence, humble and resolve are the words at 3WW

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I’m posting unusually early this week for Read Write Poem’s  Ancestors prompt as I’m going away for Christmas and I won’t be near my computer on Christmas day.

When Grandpa Arrested a One-legged Drunk.

With hopes and expectations
of noble ancestry
or to stumble on high drama
I traced my family tree.

The only drama I could find
I would have you know
was Grandpa’s arrest of a one-legged drunk
a hundred years ago.

My great great great Grandma
had a bastard son
she died when he was only six
leaving him with no one.

The mother’s name was Margaret ,
John Parrot was the son,
she worked for a man, John Burgess,
whose housekeeping she had done.

John Burgess owned a Corn Mill
on Pepper Street it stood,
he adopted Margaret’s orphan child
though she’d never said he should.

The name John Parrot Taylor
was passed from father to son
till our dad stopped using Parrot
without telling anyone.

So I was plain Carole Taylor
and my brother was just John.
We found out about the Parrot
after Dad had gone.

Taylor is such a common name,
it’s in the U.K. Top Ten.
Though I can go back two hundred years
my family are all modest men

But if only I went back far enough
a branch of my tree would meet
the tree of Elizabeth Taylor
with face once exquisite and sweet.

I found no truth in the rumour
that my Dad’s Ma came from Spain
but her smouldering eyes and jet black hair
her nearest and dearest can claim.

My parents both had eyes of brown
which weren’t passed on to me
mine are as green as emeralds
from across the Irish Sea.

My mother’s Da was Irish
a moneyed man was he
but my granny said the Irish
should swim back across the sea.

My roots are deep in Cheshire,
In Knutsford and Mobberley.
Housekeepers, cooks, policemen
make up my family tree.

And the only drama I could find
I would have you know
was Grandpa’s arrest of a one-legged drunk
one hundred years ago

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Christmas poems


Christmas is coming

decorate the tree

complement the cat

Here are links to some of my previous Christmas poems:

boxing day baby

regina and the christmas tree

‘Boxing Day Baby’ was published in Souther Poets (ed. Forward Press, 2007) as ‘Boxing Day 1975’. It is about the birth of my daughter Kamsin, who blogs at Fearfully Made,  and is currently teaching English in Japan. She is the one who first introduced me to blogging, just over two years ago. Kay at Made for Weather, a superb poet in New Zealand, was the first person to add me to her blog roll. She now has  a son in Japan.

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Check out my Slide Show!

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