Sunday, December 24, 2017

Santa V Jesus

I have been secret Santa-ed. It causes some concern as I never put my name down on the secret Santa list. It wasn’t anything anti-Santa, although I have deep seated Santa issues. The whole list was constructed on a google form. I never found my way on to it. My username and password didn’t grant me access to the list, and yes, I could have emailed or phoned and days went by and I did nothing. I felt stupid that I couldn’t get on to the google list. Yes, pride was involved. I skipped the part of the lunch where the maths teacher dressed up as Santa and invited the rest of them to sit on his lap. My present remained alone and unclaimed in the bottom of the box. I feel unsettled that someone out there should have had an answering secret Santa present and they don’t. There are other Mrs Kerr’s on the staff but it’s not a case of mistaken identity as the label clearly states Melanie.

Yesterdays’ newspaper, read over a bowl of porridge, contained two articles about Santa Claus.

The first was a very tongue-in-cheek thing. Apparently Santa Claus is not in good health and some of it is our fault and some of it is his. We are responsible for the weight problem by leaving out mince pies for Santa to eat as he stuffs our presents under the tree. He would, apparently, be better off eating Rudolph’s carrots and giving the mince pies to the reindeer.

His part of the health problems comes with the stress of delivering presents to everyone all over the world in one night. Maybe we could help by asking for fewer presents, or none at all.

The reindeer came in for some of the blame. Who was to know how many ticks and fleas they carried, some of which could skip from hide to beard and cause distress. Of course, if he didn’t have the reindeer at all, Santa could do a lot more running from house to house and climbing on to roofs to get to chimneys. He would be that more fitter, that more streamlined.

All of this was said by a dose of doctors who ought not to have that much time on their hands for such frivolity.

The second article was written by an atheist who felt the need to justify celebrating Christmas without the Jesus content of it. She talked of church attendance when she was young and going through all the rituals of growing up, but always feeling that it was done for her parents rather than herself. She felt that everything about Jesus didn’t make sense. Christmas for her was all about family and present giving, for trees and tinsel and something good to break up the winter darkness.

She ended her article with the sentiment that it would be nice to go outside and look up. I thought she was going to say something about looking out for a really bright star – that somewhere still deep inside was a longing for the Jesus part of Christmas to be true. Not at all – she would be looking for a glimpse of Santa’s sleigh.

Something in me mourned the apparent loss of Jesus in the Christmas celebrations. What Satan couldn’t do by sending Herod into Bethlehem to slaughter the babies, he has found a neater way by replacing Jesus with Santa – so much more appealing. Santa with his nice and naughty list doesn’t make a permanent change in anyone’s life.

I confess that I have never been a fan of Santa. I see beyond the “Ho! Ho! Ho!” to a very unfair gift giver! It still rankles that good behaviour really doesn’t have a say in what goodies he leaves. It is all about how what parents can afford. I grew up in a one parent household with six children. She wasn’t irresponsible to have such a large clutch – just a good Roman Catholic and with a husband that would have looked after us all well had he not died young. It really didn’t matter how good I behaved, I was never going to get a bike. Other children grew up with both parents and the 2.4 average children. Bikes were no problem.

So, yes, Santa and I have never been on good terms. Had my family been born a little later into the pay-day loan era, who knows what kind of debt my mum might have got into to provide the bike simply to keep up with the neighbours. My Santa grudge goes deep! He is not harmless fun, not in my book.

“Santa will never topple Jesus from His throne,” said God as we sat reading poetry together over a cup of tea. “People might look at the tinsel and the trees and feel they have something to celebrate but all too soon the Easter eggs will be out in the shops. Christmas will be done and dusted and everything put away. Jesus – you can’t put Him away and move on. He insists that He walk with you through every day of the coming year.”

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Wasting Time

come and waste time with me, my love
stand beside me and see the moon
leave those pressing things behind for
tomorrow’s moon is not this one

come and waste time with me, my love
stand beside me and see the sky
clouds morning kissed and blushing for
tomorrow’s sky is not this one

come and waste time with me, my love
stand beside me and see the sea
Feel the sand between your toes for
tomorrow’s sea is not this one

come and waste time with me, my love
stand beside me and embrace life
explore the untouched corners for
tomorrow’s life starts with today

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Thirteen Ways to Look at a Fence

There are some poems where the imagery is beyond me. Last night a friend of mine was sharing with us his morning of creative writing in a workshop. They read through “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" by Wallace Stevens. He dug out his copy from a bag of stuff and handed it over to someone to read aloud.

XII reads “The river is moving. The blackbird must be flying.” It feels like something that might come out of a fortune cookie. That said, the last fortune cookie I read was “You have to be in it to win it”. I would rather have had Wallace’s two lines. It has that mystic mantra feel about it.

My friend also told us they had been issued with homework of a kind – to write a poem about fences or borders. I thought I would combine the “Thirteen ways of looking at…” with the fence. The images are obvious there’s nothing to analyse really.  I just thought about fences and 13 ways I look at them.

that which marks out the boundary
of what will be mine when
the mortgage is paid in full

my warning to you
that you are trespassing and
I will prosecute

something to sit on when
coming down on one side or the other
brings no clear benefits
and makes enemies

it rips the wool off
a sheep’s back and then
waves a white flag of surrender

think Canute by the sea commanding
the waves to come no nearer
then think cows in a field
and the fence

steel yarn
like loosely knitted garter stitch
stretched and nailed between
two concrete posts

wrapped around a building site
knocking on the doors of the young and foolish
saying, “Are you coming out to play?”

wood and whitewashed
an afternoon’s work for
Tom Sawyer’s friends

permission granted for
weeds in my garden
to crawl into next door’s border

a declaration of love
to keep you safe from

splinters of rust
biting my fingers
making me cry

invisible perhaps but
Montagues and Capulets can
never marry

always the reminder
that I’m not free

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Spandex Love

I have just finished with the Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge.  I am one poem short of the thirty required. As ever I am amazed when I read back through the collection how much they reveal about my hidden world. Sometimes I’m not sure I like what I see.

This poem – Spandex Love – was something not hidden but hard to admit to. Life has not been its easiest over the last month or so.  I’m aware that my troubles are not big ones in comparison to what other people face.

There’s that bit in the marriage vows where each person says “for better, for worse” and “in sickness and in health”. There’s no small print at the bottom with all the exceptions listed.  There is not a “get out of jail free” card that comes with the marriage vows. I wonder if we consciously take on board exactly what we’re saying and think “the worse won’t happen to me” or “sickness will not come near us”. On our marriage day we are at our most optimistic. Having said that though, the wonderful man who married Joe and myself spoke in his address to us about seeing death on the road and how, as a couple, we were as close to divorce has we had ever been. He talked about the dying as being something daily – always dying to self to allow our marriage to live and flourish. There are troubles which fly up, that can’t be avoided no matter how strong out faith is, and have to be dealt with.

How do those who face the worse or have to meet sickness head on do so with love? When loving someone becomes hard what happens next? Is it still love if there are gritted teeth involved?

It has been a month of watching my husband struggle with health issues. Yes, I know, a month is nothing. You’ve been doing it for years. Too often irritation and sharp words have peppered my landscape. There is, or perhaps more accurately was, a knot of anxiety. The “what ifs” piled up like traffic on a motorway when there are road works. And then there was the guilt that inevitably plagued me. I shouldn’t feel as if I’m not sure still love him. What? After only a month of “worse”? And when much “worse” is down the road somewhere.

I sat with God, as I have a habit of doing, or perhaps it was Him sitting with me, as He has a habit of doing when I’m too unhappy to seek Him out. Too often I expect a slap for my failures and a sharp rebuke.  Most of often I get a God-cuddle and a gentle word of encouragement. He tells me a truth that I withhold from myself – that He loves me. He lifts the heavy yoke I have put upon myself and sets His yoke on my shoulders with His assurance that I never carry it alone. We sweep away the dust that has settled, the dirt that has become engrained in my spirit and share a new picture of how things will be.

With this is mind I wrote the poem

Spandex Love

love is like Spandex, don’t you think?
every time it stretches
and spans the gap between
what feels to be impossible and
what turns out to be achievable
but can it tear? I hear you ask
if love becomes tired and dry,
rigid and inflexible, it snaps
keep love warm and soft
with laughter and shared tears