from "GOING DOWN THE WHITE HILL"

all poems on this page ©winnie caw 1996
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'They're going down the white hill. Look, Mummy!' And so, the title was inspired by my son, Alex. He was playing at driving his cars down the side of my white bedspread to the floor. He was in control of his cars. For the cars, it was a hazardous experience. For the period after my divorce it seemed to sum up my state of uncontrolled uncertainty - tempered with a great deal of fun!

15th August 1995

A Passion.

Oh! beautiful!
Oh! wondrous thing!
Sleek, chic,
Deluxe-and-delightful,
Disdainful and distant,
Fast and impressive,
Cool and calculating.

Driving my pressure
around the gauge...

...and back again.

A smooth ride at a high price.
Was it worth it?
Of course.
The memory of her
stills my heart, still.

I see cars
As most men view beautiful women.

Admire them?
Certainly.
Covet them?
Often.
Lust after them?
Most definitely.

But I will never understand them.

***

11th July 1989

Optimism

If time would whisk a life away;
and you and I were old and grey;
then, would we still see tumbling stars
the like of which we see today?
No tarnished memories to cloud our way?

Poppies abound and eyes held close
fixed upon each other's delight;
I am a blossom in your grasp,
held tenderly. The nurturing bodes well
and gentle breezes blow, whispering,
"My love, I love you.
Hold me tight and never leave me go."
(There is none other here but us.
We glide and soar, and keep each other fast.)

A lark sings, and I do believe
I am that lark;
this wondrous joy lifts me light as air.

And what if two souls have but newly met?
And what if Fortune plays a cheating game?
The die is cast, and Love looks down on Fate
and smirks, and says, "Destroy this, if you can.
We have a battery of arms, a strength of love
and we shall see this through!"

***

13th June 1991

The Snake

I was born in the Year of the Snake.

In the Year of the Snake I fell in love
(madly, goose-pimply, forever in love)
and got engaged.

In the Year of the Snake my divorce came through.

Slowly I heave off my many coats
as the snake heaves off his skins.
The heavy, dark grey coat of guilt
(mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa);
the scratchy cloak of resentment
(that he should treat me so!);
The garish jerkin of anger
with its many buttons torn off in fury;
The ill-fitting garment of inadequacy:-
It is a wondrous garment
fashioned by my husband.
He spent more time enhancing it
than our marriage
as year followed repetitive year.

Standing here, finally, unprotected and alone
I sense a different sort of cold
and slowly start to clothe myself against all chills.

Now ~ Oh joy!
To bask in the sun again!

***

10th September 1995

The Emperor's New Clothes

I do not like
Stevie Smith:
her poetry, her sentiments
or her song.

I do not want her in my bible.
So there!

Her self-pity
       self-pity
       self-pity

God preserve us from her self-pity and

Her despair!

***

18th September 1995

(Still in) The South-East England Blues

We couldn't wander on the plain
for fear of sipping acid rain.

To roam about was such a lark,
skipping the dog-poo in the park.

Couldn't find the nineteenth tee;
pollution makes it hard to see.

'Seaward!' (in desperation) we say;
then, amid oil-slicks, gaily play.

Time for tea, and homeward bound
- bloody traffic jams all around.

Public transport not much better;
a chance to read another's letter (Uninvited - naturally).

The life you've left; mile after mile?
I hope this gives you cause to smile.

Is there, for us, a better place
to meet each other, face to face?

Sing, "All for one, and one for all!"
With apologies for doggerel.

***

12.35am 18th September 1995

John Betjeman's/Winnie Caw's Westgate-on-Sea

Hark, I hear the bells of Westgate,
    I will tell you what they sigh,
Doom and gloom and cell-like room
    as the penguins creep on by.

Happy bells of eighteen-ninety,
    Bursting from your freestone tower,
Hippy bells of nineteen-seventy,
    Chastity belts on free supply.

Feet that scamper on the asphalt 
    Through the Borough Council grass,
Girls in gymslips tying prefects
    to the central reservation light.

Striving chains of ordered children
    Purple by the sea-breeze made,
Desperately scribbling homework,
    Coat and hat and school-scarf clad.

Some with wire around their glasses,
    Some with wire across their teeth,
Some whose jaws are wired together
    so the muck they couldn't eat?

Church of England bells of Westgate,
    On this balcony I stand,
Bells? The R. C. ones I cherish
    make an even louder clang.

For me in my timber arbour,
    You have one more message yet,
Pull the bloody place down right now
    'ere the town and people rot!

***

18th September 1995

p.s.

John... Keats
John... Drinkwater

John... Masefield
John... Betjeman
 

...I don't qualify as a poet
'cos my name ain't John.

***

13th November 1995

Here I am

I am not a victim.
Don't victimise me.
I want to be intimate.
Don't intimidate me.
I am a mother.
Don't mother me.
I am a child, but
Don't treat me like one.
I like to play.
Let's have some fun!
 

***

14th November 1995

I wrote a poem (short) last night.
I don't want you to see it.
It's just the way I see life (but
I don't want you to see it).

It isn't me, it isn't you;
it isn't anything we do;
the fact that nothing we can say
will make a unity out of two.

And so, instead...

I heard a fox was killed last night.
A simple fact of nature?

 

No.

Disease and injury had meant

an R.S.P.C.A. man, sent
to put an end to tortured life,

administered injection.

My son will no more see that fox:
bounding - careless - over green;
dustbin contents scoffed unseen;
calling girlfriends in the dark;
hounding pheasants through the park;
giving shock, and pleasure, through
('Look! A fox!' 'I saw it too!')
adult children's eyes anew.

Reynard, walk in peace today
in hen heaven, if you may.

 

***

12th June 1991

'B' Words'

Alex's 'B' words

are better than mine.

He says, "bisketti* is bisgusting!"

and, "Can Bebecca come to tea?"

I retort, "Be quiet!" "Behave"

and, "Be good, or..."

After all, he's only four.

****

(*bisketti = spaghetti)

***

12th June 1991 

Rodent Rapture


Stuart's got a hamster

called Thomas Peter David
(also known as 'Hammy')

He zooms around in his ball on the floor
and...

...he doesn't do much else

except eat, and sleep, and demolish his water bottle.

***

12th June 1991

Days of Whines and Proses

I live in a tip.

Wouldn't I just love to say, "Do come in!"
"Any time you're passing..."

But my house is a designated disaster area
(Disaster by Appointment)
lovingly created by two small boys.

"Hold on, I'll just move the Lego."
"Mind those cars on the floor!"

As the felt tips seep silently into the tablecloth.

***

8th July 1991 

'Carry you'*

Carey was an only child
playing in the dirt.
Carey was an only child
never would be hurt.
Carey was an only child
didn't need a hand.
Carey was an only child
alone in all the land.
Carey was an only child
thought she knew it all.
Carey was an only child
until she heard the call.
Carey was an only child
turned to God one day.
Now Carey, the only child,
lets Jesus in to play.
Now Carey, the only child,
has found such joys abound
She only has to nod her head
and Love is all around.

"Carry me over the white hills yonder

to the glistening sea.

I hear the echoes of my past;
It all comes back to me."

* when Alex was tired with walking, he would throw his arms open to me and say 'Carry you, Mummy'

***

8th February 1996

Valentine 

I love you because...
you listen.
 

I love you because...
you know
 

feelings grow with seasons.
The best mature slow
as apples in the autumn
from blossoms in the bud;
morphing imperceptibly;
nurturing all things good.

***

7th March 1996 

...and fare you well.

Perhaps I ought to write:
Perhaps I ought to say ~
'Whatever you wish for you, yourself,
I wish for you today.'
Today, and every day.

A man without self-knowledge,
A man without a dream,
Will do his utmost to avoid
that awful inward scream.

Life isn't (always) all it seems.

A message written here, for you,
(before it reaches there)
blurs and distorts from truth to lie;
never what you want to hear
(it's not what you want to hear).

I wish you joy and happiness;
I wish you peace, at last.
Your walk with God continues;
Your walk with me is past.

My walk with you, is past.

***

9th March 1996

 

Variegated impressions of black and white

I have a book,
a poignant book,
of memories.

Dads and mums
and aunts and uncles,
all the kids
and granny, too ~
Birthday candles, all aglow;
Now and always, still aglow.

Sail boats pass the winning post
while idle chatterers, by the lake,
ogle soldiers:
muscle-bound and proud,
bicep-bulging, sports-strip clad.

All of them long past dead;
Lying in Time's murky bed.

Panamas for sunny days
and pony-rides along the prom;
smiles and sandcastles and smiles
for miles and miles and miles and miles.
Scorching white-hot days gone by;
Ghost-clouds fixed in distant sky.

Studio-shy smiles and socks;
Curly-headed, chocolate-box;
'Here's my brother! Snap him too!'
(never mind the missing shoe);
In black and white, pure charm shines through.

Champagne-wish for groom and bride;
('Am I showing my best side?');
Dad and Mum and Uncle Paul
and sister Flo and cousin Joe
and Great-Aunt Ida (her hat's too tall) ~
Is there room enough for all?

Prestige for posterity, on view;
Bicycles much more than cars
('Aren't we proud that they are ours?');
Solemn looks from the apron-men;
Seaside fashions: back again,
come again, and go again.

I turn the page.

My favourite.
A chorus line of seasiders:
legs-a-kicking, smiles-a-smiling,
wish-you-were-here-too,
all-beguiling.
All, bar the lady at the back
walking stone-faced in her hat.

All these snap-shots are a joy.
This album found me at a fair.
The owner lives? I know not where.
Members of your family?
Friends and lovers?
Sun and sea?
None of it belongs to me.

These images will stay the same
however often life may change:
Birth and Death ~ all their seasons past.
Monochrome reflections will outlast
us all. How sad! And happy, too.

***

12th February 1996

 

Yours Ever (Identities change with the passage of time)

Once, I was my father's daughter;
Now, a mother to my sons;
The change of role repeats with time.
 

Facets of my father's being
are in me, and in my children;
Evermore, they will be mine.
 

As the dawn will follow sunset;
Sure as sleep will follow wine;
Kin and likeness, they are mine.
 

Be a father to your children;
As my father once was mine.
Fruits of seasons, past reflections;
All my being stilled in time;
Hidden knowledge will come flowing
through your children, lost in time.
 

Here

A blessing on my children
and their children.
Time is kind.

After loss, defeat, unknowing,
will come knowledge.
Out of time.

*** 

12th March 1996

Pandora in the mirror

Tell me a tale, Pandora.
With eyes so green; what have they seen?
What myriad images there must have been?
A multitude of sorrows: fleeting and enduring,
Bruising and strengthening, true and imagined.
Time. Changing carpets of sand into walls,
Into dust, into walls again. Everything changing
and remaining the same. The story, once told,
becomes an epic, a saga, a sad tale.

Tell me your story, Pandora.
Reflections of others distorting the mirror;
The true self dissolved in another;
In time out of mind, out-of-mind values
embracing the saved and the damned.
Collision, collusion, confusion,
Acquiescence, understanding, disbelief:
A panoply of views, conflict, dogma;
The alter-ego buried in the ego.

Tell me the ending, Pandora.
Caring, at last? Forgiveness of past?
The moon in your shoe? Or only illusion?
Fusion of tenderness, empathy, love?
Learning of lessons from Persons above?
Learning of anything, other than self?

Fulfilment and happiness greet me like a dream
in the night ~ unexpected, unprepared;
Meaning much and promising little;
Leaving only Hope.

***

7th March 1996

The White Hill

The White Hill is a monster;
The White Hill is a bane ~

a blot ~ upon the landscape;

No shelter in the rain.

The White Hill signals heartache;
The White Hill echoes pain;
A crying on the hillside
of countless thousands slain.

The White Hill is a promise
that promises ~ all fake ~

will lead you into darkness;
will lead you to the lake,

the Lake that Drowns all Sorrows
of desperate souls, awake;
despairing of tomorrow.
New promises to make.

The White Hill is a monster;
The White Hill echoes pain;
a crying on the hillside;
no shelter in the rain.

***

WMC

Selection of Vol. I @  I Find My Way 1968 - 1976

Selection of Vol. III @  Bus Stops - Poems 1996 - 2002

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