after Billy Collins
What a relief it is not to be boarding that Qantas plane,
the hours of boredom, the cramp, the endless movies
and then that sudden view of Sydney Opera House.
How much better to be pounding the streets
wearing a designer mask, hopscotching dog shit,
then home to another delicious Zoom meeting.
There is no Harbour Bridge here but the swing bridge
in Middlesbrough comes close, both built
by Dorman Long and lovely in November fog.
No need to drag the kids round the NGA,
or force them to do yet another circuit of the lake,
pausing to listen to the Carillon.
How much better to sleep in my own bed
than wake in the one at The East Hotel
that ought to have its own postcode.
Why bother with studying crumpled maps?
Why get out of breath in the Blue Mountains,
and who wants a barbecue at Christmas?
Instead of wasting time in Paperchain
or stopping for a hot chocolate in Manuka
I can get a take-away tea from Costa
and drink it walking down Coney Street
which has the highest number
of empty shops in Britain.
And, after having my fill of window shopping,
I won’t have to bother taking snaps
that only cost money to store on the Cloud.
I can walk home, stepping off the pavement
to avoid all the germ-ridden people
carrying incongruous Christmas trees
Carole Bromley writes for both adults and children. Her children’s collection, Blast Off, is available from Smith/Doorstop and her most recent adult collection, The Peregrine Falcons of York Minster, from Valley Press, www.carolebromleypoetry.co.uk
How To Make Christmas
From photographs of other tables,
where precious metal made weight
of knives and spoons, in pictured rooms
whose chandeliers resounded
with the best Murano, not BHS,
we learned how to make Christmas.
I pickled beetroot, brined the bird,
wrapped the cake in rum-soaked muslin.
I showed you how to stir the pud,
and make a wish, without any silver sixpences
to push against the saturated fruit;
simple slivered almonds glinted in the crumbly dark.
We searched the outlets for French cast iron,
paid for wine monthly, then mulled it
with honey until it tasted of plenty,
of clove-spiked orange and floating star anise.
We had come far. We were kings
with three stuffings, none of them Paxo.
My legacies were boxed crackers and tinsel,
stocking toes tight with tangerines,
foil-wrapped chocolate coins.
Those goose-fat potatoes,
bread sauce (always wasted)
and apple-pie-alternative little more
than clippings from Ideal Home.
Janet Dean lives in York. She now writes full time after a long career in the public and charity sectors. Her poetry has been shortlisted in the Bridport Prize, commended in the Poetry Society’s Stanza Poetry Competition and featured in the Northern Poetry Library’s 50th anniversary Poem of the North. She is published in anthologies by Valley Press, Templar and Driech, and by Strix, The Morning Star and Ink Sweat and Tears. In 2020 her lockdown poem won second place in the Yeovil Poetry Prize.
Predicting the weather this Christmas
I predict it will rain, steady and prolonged,
from first blink of eye to booze-soaked snore.
The rain won’t turn to snow softening hard lines,
will try to dampen spirits, gush down gutters.
An after dinner walk will be out of the question,
unless you can persuade the family of its merits.
Televisual fare will be the usual noxious blend
of classic schmaltz, ads for the coming sales.
And that rain will carry on falling, poking fun
at rows of snow-clad cards, those jolly snowmen.
You see, it’s getting warmer every year, wetter,
less seasonal in every way. The bobble hats,
gloves, scarves have a smaller window than ever,
like number twenty-three on the Advent calendar.
Pat Edwards is a writer, reviewer and workshop leader from mid Wales. Her work has appeared in Magma, Prole, Atrium, IS&T and others. During more normal times she hosts Verbatim open mic nights and curates Welshpool Poetry Festival. Pat has two pamphlets: Only Blood (Yaffle 2019) and Kissing in the Dark (Indigo Dreams 2020).