Monday, December 20, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Alicia Ponder

Running away with a Christmas sonnet
by Alicia Ponder

Go kiss your prince beneath the mistletoe
And hang those stockings high above the hearth
For Christmas is the one day you can show
The greatest love of all and peace on earth

Still, I wish you would take your Christmas cheer,
Pack the day with bows and loving care
And bundle it so far away from here
And don't you mention Grinches, don't you dare.

For while the thought of presents makes some sing
And has the children dancing round the tree
Christmas makes me wish more than anything
That I could wash my hands and be set free -

Just wander off, enjoy the sunny beach
Forget the rules, and
in the sun-drenched

Thanks Alicia for your poem. I love the way it slips out of of structure, and into a languid free-form where content and shape take on a perfectly relaxed ease... even sweeter to my eye no doubt, because I'm about to follow suit, and climb out of my rhyming couplet work life!

Alicia is a Wellington-based author and a regular on-line Tuesday Poem contributer. You can find more of her poems on her blog:

Alicia's poems and prose also feature in 'Caught on Canvas', a popular art book about Wellington, and she has published several short stories in the School Journal, with more to come out next year in various places, including Australia. When she's not writing or coaching at Hutt Valley Fencing Club, she sometimes finds time to review the latest books at Rona Book Shop, relieve at Hutt Valley High School, and provide a taxi service for her two children.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I'm a stickler for writing things right. It actually feels good to own it out loud (even if I did play a bit loose with my grammar there.) I've been the boring parent who always responded "so much fun" to my children's enthusiastic "so fun". I've gaped at their father's loose edges around what's ok and what's not in the English language (he's a former English teacher, and loves languages.) That said, I have made some shifts these past years - wrestle, contort, surrender. One free-for-all zone is my telecom fone. (See?) ... except of course the 'you' word. That's still sacred.
The one other written word I hold onto with stubborn determination is Christmas (as opposed to the X version). This has taken some doing. I write with the speed of sound, mostly illegibly to everyone else, and I love getting to the end of a task as quickly as I can. But I hate the fact that this 'celebration', which does acknowledge a significant birth, has a popularised spelling that deletes the person - appropriately with an x, and usually a big fat capital one.
That said - I have been playing with a new spelling for this event. I've written it up there as my post heading. I think think this spelling puts some meaning back into what it is I'm experiencing. This sweeping madness, from which some of us take shelter, pull our hoodies over our faces, and others surrender and shop and get sick, is surely in response to a myth. It feels like it has mythological proportions. An unwieldy potent 'story', dreaded by so many, and with the power to disturb and unseat us, without showing it's real face.
Anyway, this year we're doing our wee bit to pull it out of the mist, give it a name and a shape that's human-sized. We're leaving town on Sunday and heading for a quiet spot in the bush down south for three days. We have not sent cards, not put up a christmas tree (though plan to locate a flowering pohutukawa by the end of next week). All gifts will be recycled (pre-loved by ourselves or someone else). And lunch will be simple. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tuesday poem: Tackling the day

Some time ago my then writing group dished out half a dozen words at the end of our meeting and we agreed we'd stud a poem with each one - raisins in a pud of our own making. It's the poem I'm posting today, and it feels appropriate as a what... galviniser? - joke? - aspiration? as I stumble to the end of 2010, still ploughing through a ridiculous amount of workatwork, my faith eye on that checkered flag, which should be waving at me on the 17th.
(I'm not sure the compulsory words are readily identifiable, but there are no prizes for correctly guessing one of them.)

Tackling the day

Look at you
Slinking along
Grumbling across the day
With your nose in the falling dark
Before your last foot's
Left home in the morning

By God
Not me mate

There'll be butter and jam
On my bread
At sun up.
I'll devastate crust and crumbs
With a sure jaw
And flashing incisors

I'll take time to kick the rubbish
Where it belongs

I'll spread my shoulders
And pump blood
And draw breath
Like a gale

There'll be no slither
No slits for eyes

You just watch me
I'll show you

I'll show you foreshore.