Strength Anew To Try

Wee Willie Winkie

Wee Willie Winkie

Traditional Nursery Rhyme
(Retold by T. A. Fry)

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Up stairs and down stairs in his night-gown,
Tapping at the window, crying at the lock,
Are the children in their beds, for it’s ten o’clock?

Hey, Willie Winkie, are you coming in?
The cat’s singing purring sounds to the sleeping hen,
The dog’s sleeping on the floor, doesn’t give a cheep,
Why then such a wakeful boy, who will not fall asleep?

Anything but sleep you rogue! glowering like the moon,’
Rattling loud your iron jug, with your iron spoon,
Rumbling, tumbling round about, crowing like a cock,
Shriekin’ like some kinda ghost, waking sleeping folk.

Hey, Willie Winkie – the baby’s in her creel!
While you’re still a wriggling, squirming like an eel,
Tugging at the cat’s ear, confusing all her thrums
Hey there Willie Winkie – grab him here he comes!”

Weary is the mother with a dusty child,
Small short sturdy ones, that run a country mile,
Children that wage a battle, before they’ll close an eye
But one more kiss, from rosy lips, is strength anew to try.


I have been using this time of staying put indoors to clean out some closets and sort some items.  I still have boxes from after my Mother’s death that I can’t quite figure out what to do.  There is a box of children’s books that are not the originals from my childhood but are sturdier copies, less love worn, of some of the classics that she used in her kindergarten classroom for the final 20 years of her career. Books like the Velveteen Rabbit, Make Way For Ducklings, A Toad for Tuesday and many picture books.  I sorted a box and a half and only found a couple that didn’t make sense to keep, not much help in winnowing the pile.

In among them was a newer book of children’s poetry.   A mixture of modern verse and old classics and nursery rhymes.  I was struck as I read so many of the nursery rhymes how perfectly metrical often the first stanzas that sound familiar to our ears and then subsequent stanzas of many feel broken and halting when read aloud. Is that because the words were not smoothed by millions of mothers and fathers reciting them each night? The first stanza is the one that was told, over and over and over again. Prior to all these screens that litter our houses, what did you do after the sun went down but read, make music and tell stories.  Children learned the literature of their family through the rhymes they were told.

What is the literature of your family?  Are their specific songs and rhymes that are part of your inner book? How many short verses can you recite from heart because someone in your life told them to you so many times to fill that space between bedtime and sleep? What poems are you keeping alive with your little ones, making sure the family treasure is passed down to the next generation?


Two Little Black Birds

Traditional Nursery Rhyme
(With a new verse by T. A. Fry)

Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill.
One named Jack and one named Jill.
Fly away Jack, fly away Jill.
Come back Jack, come back Jill.

Two little blackbirds flying in the sky.
One named Low and one named High.
Fly away Low, fly away High.
Come back Low, come back High.

Two little blackbirds sitting on a pole.
One named Fast and one named Slow.
Fly away Fast, fly away Slow.
Come back Fast, come back Slow.

Two little blackbirds sitting on a gate.
One named Early and one named Late.
Fly away Early, fly away Late.
Come back Early, come back Late.

Two little blackbirds sitting in a tree.
One named Fool and one named Free.
Fly away Fool, fly away Free.
Come back Fool, come back Free.

Jack and Jill

Retold in equity by T. A. Fry
(For no sister should be whipped for her brother’s clumsiness).

Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down
And broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Up Jack got
And home did trot,
As fast as he could caper;
And went to bed
With a plastered head
Of vinegar and brown paper.

When Jill came in
How she did grin
To see Jack’s paper plaster;
And Mother smiled
All the while,
Suspectin’ which of them was faster.

 

 

That Is What I am

Wanda Coleman_2
Wanda Coleman (1946 – 2013)

“Many have referred to Carroll’s rhyme’s as nonsense, but to my childhood world in 1950’s Los Angeles they made perfect sense.”

Wanda Coleman

Requiem For A Nest

by Wanda Coleman

the winged thang built her dream palace
amid the fine green eyes of a sheltering bough
she did not know it was urban turf
disguised as serenely delusionally rural
nor did she know the neighborhood was rife
with slant-mawed felines and those long-taloned
swoopers of prey. she was ignorant of the acidity & oil
that slowly polluted the earth, and was never
to detect the serpent coiled one strong limb below

following her nature she flitted and dove
for whatever blades twigs and mud
could be found under the humming blue
and created a hatchery for her spawn
not knowing all were doomed


Wanda Coleman, the self proclaimed poet laureate of Los Angeles, threw herself headlong into poetry.  She did what great artists do, they find a way to make a living from their creativity and Coleman had to hold down a myriad of odd jobs to accomplish her passions.

In 2020, Black Sparrow Press, Coleman’s longtime publisher, will release Wicked Enchantment: Selected Poem, a collection of Coleman’s best work spanning her career.   It is  edited and has an introduction by Terrance Hayes.  Both Hayes and Coleman have taken the sonnet form and pushed it into new territory,  relevant to their experiences and voice.  I have yet to pick up a copy of this compilation, but it is on my short list of poetry purchases for the new year.  What I enjoy about Coleman is her ability to incorporate profound metaphors with a sense of humor.  Most of her poems work on multiple levels of meanings and yet are not confusing or convoluted.  She worked with a deft ear for language and always entertained.   Do you have a favorite Coleman poem?   Please share.


 

Little Birds

By Lewis Carroll

Little Birds are dining
Warily and well,
Hid in mossy cell:
Hid, I say, by waiters
Gorgeous in their gaiters –
I’ve a Tale to tell.

Little Birds are feeding
Justices with jam,
Rich in frizzled ham:
Rich, I say, in oysters
Haunting shady cloisters –
That is what I am.

Little Birds are teaching
Tigresses to smile,
Innocent of guile:
Smile, I say, not smirkle –
Mouth a semicircle,
That’s the proper style!

Little Birds are sleeping
All among the pins,
Where the loser wins:
Where, I say, he sneezes
When and how he pleases –
So the Tale begins.

Little Birds are writing
Interesting books,
To be read by cooks:
Read, I say, not roasted –
Letterpress, when toasted,
Loses its good looks.

Little Birds are playing
Bagpipes on the shore,
Where the tourists snore:
“Thanks!” they cry. “‘Tis thrilling!
Take, oh take this shilling!
Let us have no more!”

Little Birds are bathing
Crocodiles in cream,
Like a happy dream:
Like, but not so lasting –
Crocodiles, when fasting,
Are not all they seem!

Little Birds are choking
Baronets with bun,
Taught to fire a gun:
Taught, I say, to splinter
Salmon in the winter –
Merely for the fun.

Little Birds are hiding
Crimes in carpet-bags,
Blessed by happy stags:
Blessed, I say, though beaten –
Since our friends are eaten
When the memory flags.

Little Birds are tasting
Gratitude and gold,
Pale with sudden cold:
Pale, I say, and wrinkled –
When the bells have tinkled,
And the Tale is told.

 

We Buy A Fish. We Are Fed.

 

Keillor
Garrison Keillor

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” .

Julia Childs

Supper

by Garrison Keillor

You made crusty bread rolls filled with chunks of brie
And minced garlic drizzled with olive oil
And baked them until the brie was bubbly
And we ate them lovingly, our legs coiled
Together under the table. And salmon with dill
And lemon and whole-wheat cous cous
Baked with garlic and fresh ginger, and a hill
Of green beans and carrots roasted with honey and tofu.
It was beautiful, the candles, the linen and silver,
The sun shining down on our northern street,
Me with my hand on your leg. You, my lover,
In your jeans and green T-shirt and beautiful bare feet.
How simple life is. We buy a fish. We are fed.
We sit close to each other, we talk and then we go to bed.


I have recently been forced to take my diabetes seriously.  It’s a bit like an alcoholic telling everyone he’s an alcoholic.  By doing so he hopes that everyone else will hold them accountable.  The problem with diabetes, at least for me, is because I wasn’t diabetic for 54 years, everyone seems to think if I would just exercise a bit more, lose a few pounds and eat right it would be fine.  I wish it was that simple. There is nothing simple about my diabetes.  I wake up and before I have eaten anything my blood sugars are so far above my target that I start the day feeling like I can’t eat anything.  If I use my blood glucose monitor as the green flag for actually eating there are days I completely fast and never get in the target range.   It’s no way to live.

I like to cook, I like to eat.  I am a decent cook.   My relationship with food has completely changed in the past 3 months, and I feel betrayed.  I feel like I can’t enjoy the simplicity of bread and cheese and a glass of wine unless I am going to ignore my blood sugars and the nagging of loved ones that something which was perfectly normal until recently is now some kind of violation of being a good person.   Eating normal food in moderation is not a moral failing for diabetics. But the only way to be seen as virtuous is to deny myself even the most simple of things.  Diabetes is like becoming a Catholic priest and having to swear an oath of celibacy, but in this case its swearing off the occasional treat of peanut M and M’s.

I refuse to be defined by my diabetes. I am going to make an attempt at trying to get it mostly under control, but my experience is doctors are only too happy to play the blame and shame game and watch your A1c climb year after year without really giving you all the tools to manage the disease because type II diabetes is considered a life style disease. But I’m not overweight.  And I don’t eat a lot of sugars. My body just doesn’t make insulin anymore. So, I can decide to live like a monk and stop enjoying food or I can accept that this disease is likely going to kill me eventually. The good thing is its going to kill me really slowly, plenty of time to enjoy life and eat lots of great food.


Fairy Bread

by Robert Louis Stevenson

.           . Come up here, O dusty feet!
Here is fairy bread to eat.
Here in my retiring room,
Children, you may dine
On the golden smell of broom
.            . And the shade of pine;
And when you have eaten well,
Fairy stories hear and tell.