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As a 2nd/3rd grade teacher, on the first day back at school each January, I would borrow bells of all sizes from the music teacher and let my class ring in the New Year. Later when I taught art, I had 5th graders paste the double face of Janus (Roman god of gates and doorways) in the top center of the paper, looking forward and back. They would draw a memory (good or bad) from the old year on the left, and one thing that might happen in the New Year on the right.

Since retiring, I’ve had the luxury of time in which to reflect on my life and write more chapters of a memoir, BUGSY, SLUG, THE BEATLES AND ME. Last year my old my high school class in England held a reunion that I couldn’t attend. Instead, I sent this prose poem listing memories from 1st Form thru 6th Form (the equivalent of grades 6-12 in the US) at Sandown Grammar School:

S triped summer dresses and swimming at the Blue Lagoon.
A rt teacher Mr. Binch’s encouragement: “That’s interesting!”
N eville Anderson’s solo “O Valiant Hearts” in the Little Hall.
D ancing the foxtrot, Virginia Reel and Strip the Willow in the gym.
O ut on the field in all weathers – jolly hockey sticks!
W illie Wiseman our heart throb, along with Adam Faith and Elvis.
N etball practice for Sandham house, Grassy towering over the net.

G erman with Hinny and Helmut; my penfriend Gerlinde.
R omantic poets with ‘Lit’ English. Did she have a first name?
A nthems I still remember from the choir in Assembly.
M r. Fennelly (Flan) scrabbling in the dirt at an archaeological dig.
M usic with Pastry, including a song he wrote for Speech Day.
A lgebraic and chemical formulae, unused, long forgotten.
R ailway crossing on a blue Raleigh bike, my 13th birthday present.

S ewing a yellow gingham apron with Buster Rogers.
C od Cooper’s bulging briefcase; Bert Ayling’s red cushion.
H at that I dared not remove because I lived opposite Miss Tovey.
O ld Owens (Taffy) tapping his ring on the radiator; and the
O M skipping in plimsolls at the Inkies’ Christmas Party.
L atin declension, conjugation and Caesar’s Gallic Wars.

Our Prairie Writers homework this month is A NEW BEGINNING, for which I wrote a similar piece, but looking to the future:

A nticipate everyday miracles.

N o recriminations over last year’s failures.
E very nook and cranny of the office filed and dusted.
W riter’s Market on hand with homes for manuscripts.

B ooks to finish, books to publish, books to read.
E xpand my speaking/teaching platform.
G oals to be set, goals to be met, but with grace periods.
I magine myself a morning person, fit and trim.
N ever neglect the arts—painting, piano, poetry.
N ational Gallery visits, via calendar and in person.
I sle of Wight in May for a high school reunion?
N ephew’s gift, a journal to record my journey.
G ear up for 2013. This could be the best year yet! Read More 
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[No character is intended to represent anyone I know, alive or dead.]


Every year, we dragged from the attic a dusty, plastic tree.
We decked its flimsy boughs with tarnished balls, despondently.
“Not this Christmas,” Father said,
“Now that Aunt Matilda’s dead.”
“I agree,” said Uncle Bruce.
“Let’s cut down a fresh, green spruce.”

Each of us would draw one name, recipient of one gift.
It led to deep resentment and created many a rift.
“Not this Christmas!” Momma joked,
“Since your Aunt Matilda croaked.”
Cousin Doug said, “That’s good news.
Give whatever to whom you choose.”

She used to make low-fat, low-carb desserts that no one liked.
Woe betide a guest who brought some eggnog that was spiked.
“Not this year. We’ll have a blast,”
Said Grandpa. “Old Matilda’s passed.
Lace the punch and sweeten the pies.
Ask Santa for clothes in a larger size!”

Lunch was always somber. Kids were seen, but never heard.
Pets were banished from the house, even a cat that purred.
“Not this Christmas. Bring your dogs!
Matilda dear has popped her clogs,”
Said Grandma. “You are free to play.
Enjoy a loud, rambunctious day.”

Year in, year out, through Auntie’s gripes and gossip we had sat.
“God rest her soul,” my sister sighed. “She’s gone, and that is that.”
Then Uncle Ron proposed a toast
To banish Aunt Matilda’s ghost.
So all the women, kids, and men
Cried, “Not this Christmas. Never again!”

© Hazel Spire 2012 Read More 
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