Childhood Poem by Tony Pitman

Childhood



Childhood
Pens.
Scratchy nib on wooden stick,
Dipped in inkpot desk set.
Try to write, big inkblot,
Raising high Miss Nelly's wrath.

When little, greatest wish,
Fountain pen and bottle of Quink.
Such things were scarce post war,
Lucky to have broken pencil to draw.

Remember queuing outside toyshop,
Water colours on sale, limited stock.
Unable to buy, no money to spend,
Just to see them brought content.

Best gift ever been given,
Brown fountain pen when eleven.
Reward for passing eleven plus,
Pride and joy till it was lost.

Now old with money to spend,
Huge collection, all types of pens.
Fountain, roller ball, biro and gel;
Favourite shop what stationers sell.

Eying a display of pens,
Childhood thrills rise again.
They're alive, raring to start,
Lucky children, what a sight.

Would the interest be the same?
If as available in younger days
Does the exciting fascination arise?
Simply from scarcity or a need to write


Bath Night.

Hung outside on nail at back
Early en-suite, big tin bath.
Taken down on Friday nights,
Fill with water, few inches high.

Kitchen becomes family bathroom,
Placed under light, out of gloom.
Special treat on cold winter's nights,
Element flickering in electric fire.

Rota for bathing firmly fixed,
Mam, dad, youngest child next;
Then the sibling first born.
Rest to follow in age turn.

Hair cleaning the prime ablution,
Labour rough hands do scalp scrubbing.
Lie back in vulnerable prone position,
Ladled rise, water in tepid condition.

Need to sit and soak awhile,
Others being dried with old towels.
Time to doodle with fingernail,
In old soap welded to bath interior.

All's finished, bath time done,
Shivering by fire in front room.
Bath lifted and emptied in sink,
Hung back on nail for another week.


Snowy's fright.

Pitch black and smelling vile,
Legs in water treading piles.
Six foot fall has caused a shock,
Trapped down here in pool of muck.

Shouldn't have trusted toilet seat,
Wobbly landing after leap.
Teetered on edge for an age,
Plummeted down with no grace.

Trembling with cold and fright,
Latest adventure will be goodbye.
Any minute tippler will go,
Washed down sewer in the flow.

Why oh why change from norm?
Running round yard eating coal
Saw door of loo left ajar,
Had to visit place that's barred.

Wait, noises from above,
People investigating what's up?
Silk rope dangling, tickling nose,
Grab with teeth and up we go.

Pulled to safety scraping sides,
Used as toilet brush on this ride.
At last daylight and fresh air,
Bounce round yard without a care.

Washed and scrubbed with Persil soap,
Drying by fire in posh white coat.
Much cosier than hutch outside,
An exciting day in Snowy's life.


Sick visit.

Bedroom dark in winter gloom,
Child in bed twixt fever and chill.
Old overcoats weighing a ton,
Keep out cold like eiderdown should.

Lonely place to spend his days,
Little chap longing for out and play.
Much too weak to lift his head,
Has to be here in sick bed.

Water in white pot stood nearby,
Spout on side for drink, lay down.
Noises come from down below,
Maybe a visit is on the way.

Doctor bursts in with his bag,
Not the choice the lad would make.
Looms over chap, prone in sack,
Menacing figure, always in black.

Cold metal probing chest and back;
Deep breath, keep still, blow out.
Must be serious or wouldn't be here,
This man's visits always cost dear.

As he thought, congested lungs;
Another case of pneumonia.
Hot poultices to be applied,
Encourage fluid to find way out.

Inspection over, alone again;
Listen to mumblings coming from stairs.
'Pneumonia, three strikes and gone'.
Oh my God, there's only another one.

Shivering in fright in night shirt,
Lad ponders on what he's heard.
Such a short life he now faces,
Make most of tonight's liquorice allsorts.



The slide.

Cold winter's morn with Jack Frost,
Off to school on local bus.
Exciting view through the gate,
New ice-slide on which to skate.

Stand in line then off on run,
Hit the slide, feet apart, side on.
Sway about to keep upright,
Or take a tumble on ride of fright.

Longer and longer the queue grows,
As more boys join the fun.
Faster and faster the slide's thrill;
Polished surface testing balance skills.

Whistle blows, time for classes,
Reluctant to leave ice attraction;
But temperature cold, slide won't melt,
Still be there when school's out.

Break time can't come too soon,
Sod the milk, there's skating to do.
Faces tingle as they hit cold air,
Group of lads stood in despair.

The line in the yard that marked the slide,
Now heaped with hot ash, glowing white.
Mr Rowbottom's been at dirty work,
Spoiling the fun with his boiler's dirt.

Anger simmers through the ranks,
Need to avenge the caretaker's prank.
How to hit him so it really hurts?
Must be his cellar where he works.

Line of lads waiting a turn,
Piss in boiler, so fire won't burn.
Hot cokes spit and splutter, belching fumes,
Stagger up steps, zonked but amused.


Nitty job.

Nit nurse Nora's due today,
Search for lice and powder give.
Plaster hair with comb that's wet,
Maybe wont disturb hair set.

Stand in line and wait your turn,
Please no powder, gives head that burns.
Rough hands pull locks apart;
What a job from nine till five.

Nurse is stern with heavy frown,
Concentrates most on the crown.
Ordered to one side or the other,
Passed the test or note for mother.

Back in class, clear this time,
Ponder, most nits in hair that's fine.
Johnny Mig sits down in front,
Scratching head, lice falls and runs.

May wind.

The wind is blowing hard today,
Gusting, swirling at the end of May.
Sun burns hot, the wind cools down;
Clouds are darting, fast all around.

New green leafs float through the air,
Ripped off trees that bounce and dance;
Drifting, flicking in the wind,
Mimicking butterflies while they can

Garden bushes bow and curtsy,
Supple and lithe, avoiding breakage.
Snapped dead twigs are freed to fall.
Late Cherry blossoms carpet the floor.

Delicate plant shoots seem to survive,
Their strength amazing for their size.
Nature has bred them for the onslaught,
Aware tree pollen needs a good blow start.

Birds in harmony with Nature's way,
Perched on branches enjoying the sway.
Gulls gliding on swift air currents.
Black birds low flying through the gate.

The wind does more than move things round,
Triggering fond memories of childhood sounds.
Homemade kites on Hikeshead Pike;
Dad's proud joy at his kids' delight.
Building a shelter on Blackpool beach;
Keep out the sand while family eats.
Model yacht on park paddling pool,
Mast bending over in graceful move.
Hair swept back on downhill run,
Wind a brake increasing fun;
Joins the game by switching round;
Head over heels and kiss the ground.

Memories of times not to revisit,
The wind can make most vivid.
Scenes alter, people are gone;
On the wings of the wind the spirit lives on.

Timeless wind without a clock,
Moving the plants as I watch,
Just as it did when I was young,
Again freely gifting Nature's song.


Plot of grass

Just a plot of grass like any other;
Nothing there to make it special.
Brown in patches, full of weeds;
Mowed in summer, covered with autumn leaves.

A tree as neighbour, Silver Birch for shade;
The only marker for this quiet place.
Silent now, sleeping in peace;
Protected by angel's spreading wings.

For this is a special place;
Here lie babies in God's grace.
Born and died before life began;
Untainted by sin, the curse of man.

Fifty odd children for fifty odd years,
Have been in this place beneath the tree.
Only God knows why their visit was short;
It'll be some party come the trumpet call.



'Hallo Tony'

'Hallo Tony'
Shouts gruff little voice from down below

'Hallo Libby'
Her infectious pleasure echoed in response

'Hallo Tony', she shouts again
'Hallo Libby', a happy call from deep within

Help us God to understand
Why somewhere along the way
We abandon that joyful little child
That always resides deep inside

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