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'A Winter Childhood'
January 2018


El Hijo del Invierno

El sol de la mañana
El poeta que nace en el invierno
Caminando libre en la montaña y en Río Pequeño de Miami
Y en frente de un montón de un águila
Como un gran círculo cuando tú miras al viento
Y sobre la luna
Antiguas canciones
Y que yo escribo toda la fruta de la vida
Bandera roja, azul, y blanca
Un grande amor que sale de mi vida
Celebrando José Martí y Dr. Ramón Betances
En una grande visita en frente de La Patria
En 284 calle Pearl
En un hombre que es tuyo y es mío
Como marchando pa’ una isla
Hoy es el día histórico para nosotros
Es una hoja de amor mío
Era la memoria de los siglos
Testimonios presentes como una flor
En la última casa de José Martí en Nueva York
En el 120 calle Front
Feliz cumpleaños, poeta, companyero y revolucionario
Verso libre a la Guantanamera
José MartÄ«, presente

The Son of Winter

The morning sun
The poet born in the winter
Walking free in the mountains and in the Little Miami River
And in front of Eagle Mound
Like a big circle when you look at the wind
And about the Moon
Old songs
And that I write all the fruit of life
The red, blue, and white flag
A great love that emerges from my life
Celebrating José Martí and Dr. Ramón Betances
On a grand visit in front of La Patria
At 284 Pearl Street
In a man who is yours and is mine
Like marching to an island
Today is the historic day for us
It's a leaf of my love
It was the memory of the centuries
Testimonials present as a flower
In the last house of José Martí in New York
At 120 Front Street
Happy birthday, poet, compañero and revolutionary
Free verse to the Guantanamera
José MartÄ«, presente

© Carlos Raúl Dufflar 1/28/2018
The Bread is Rising Poetry Collective

Winter Childhood, circa 1980

I remember well
The snows were reliable
Rare was there bitter cold frost without whitened grounds
When the snow fell
We always hoped for school to be closed
The hope was almost always in vain
Living in Brooklyn
We were jealous of schoolchildren in New Jersey
Who always seemed to have no school on those days
The excuse was that, at least it seemed,
New York City had more modern snow removal
(We silently wished that would not be the case.)

One day, a few of us marched bravely through the snowdrifts,
making that turn onto Whipple Street
We heard the news, not on the news, but from other students:
It’s closed
And we hurriedly turned back around

Angel L. Martinez
The Bread is Rising Poetry Collective

A Tale of Two Winters

Nineteen-Forty-Seven was only the fifth in my experience and it was the coldest I have known. There was snow on the ground for ages and ages, and when it froze my sledge went for miles and miles with just a small push.

I remember going much faster than I expected down a slight slope, straight across the road, scaring the baker's horse, and the sledge stopped abruptly at the opposite kerb but I didn't, I kept going, out of the way of the horse and ended up against the garden wall. Got a right old shouting from the baker, and another telling off when I got home, bleeding mess on my jacket.

Nineteen-Sixty-Three was also a bit extreme. It was my twenty-first winter so I suppose it's the last time I can claim a connection with childhood, but it was the other extremity. I heard about the snow, the ice, the cold, at home with envy. I was on a minesweeper in the Persian Gulf, I worked in the engine room and had occasion to go below to the small machine room in the messdeck in order to check on the newly fitted air conditioning equipment. On our first use of it Cheifie decided to switch it on and leave it while we completed some maintenance in the generator room.

When we finished that an hour and a half later and re-appeared on deck everyone else was on the upper deck complaining about the heat, 120F in the shade, but unable to go into the accommodation area because it was getting to less than half that down there.
Muggins had to go down through the messdeck with instructions to simply switch off the AC and allow the temperature to get back to 'normal', sweltering, only bearable because of the powerful fans that kept the air moving.

It didn't take me long, I didn't hang around, it reminded me of 1947, boy that was cold!

Dave Chambers
Newham Writers Workshop


A Winter Childhood

I remember well the so-called Three Day Week in the early 1970s. It resulted in electrical blackouts at inconvenient times.

I took a girl to the cinema, only for the film to stop two-thirds of the way through and the ushers to appear with torches to escort us out. We did not receive a refund on the grounds that the show had started and we should have been aware that there might be a problem. I could not afford to by another two tickets to see the remainder.

The house in which I grew up, in rural Herefordshire, did not have electricity until I was fourteen. We had an Aga in the kitchen and a coal-fired central heating boiler, while for light we had huge Calor gas cylinders with copper piping taking it into every room. When we finally received a supply of electricity my father suggested we may as well remove all the gas piping on the grounds that it was redundant.

Being a great procrastinator and not wanting to be roped into helping with the removal, which I knew would happen, I said, “Why bother? If there’s a power cut you could use it to provide light.”

A few years later we did have a problem when a local transformer failed, so local it supplied only three houses. This happened on the evening before Good Friday, and the maintenance man said the stores would be closed until Tuesday so we would be without power until then. Unlike the other two houses that relied on candles and torches my father replaced the by now dead mantles in the lights and we had light in every room, though I do remember noticing how little light these gave out when compared with electric lighting.

Several years later the Three Day Week hit, and of course stores promptly ran out of lights of any sort, and in the short term even candles were being rationed. But we were in a more advantageous position than most. What a lot of people did not realise was that even gas-fired central heating relies on electricity for the controllers, and without it the boilers simply shut off.

One of my father’s patients – my father was a doctor – acquired his own generator and would sit watching television. What he did not realise was that while the mains supply is 240 volts his generator only produced 220 volts. The television set did not like this and eventually the cathode ray tube blew and his cunning idea turned out very expensive indeed, even more so as the television was almost new and a colour replacement for an old black-and-white one.

With our Aga the kitchen was lovely and warm, while the coal-fired central heating boiler continued to work unabated. As for light, once again my father replaced all the gas mantles and could conduct his evening surgery able to see his patients properly as well as any part that required closer examination.

I felt completely justified in my procrastination as it paid off handsomely in the end.

John Malcomson
Heeley Writers

November 1976

Tired , cold and hungry
we walk the hills of Waltham
cold, cold ,cold
that's all I feel
no fingers or toes I can feel

Dad and I selling poppies
the wind is bitter my face it stings
I am eight years old
all I want is the warmth of a fire
in them days it was a coal one

Dad is an ex-soldier
fighting in the war
so he is doing what he feels right

even my gloves are no protection
I start to cry such is the coldness
I have reached freezing point

then we visit Dad's old friend
a soldier from World War One
at the time I just wanted to go home
now I know the sacrifices made
I look at everything so differently

Katie Wilson
Stevenage Survivors


It was so cold
even winter didn't
want to come in.
Mister Frost
didn't paint windows.
Why bother?
Dress quickly
under your duvet.
Eating cold breakfast
standing by the table.
hurry, go outside,
so you can warm up
running in the circles.
School is across the street,
so you can run in slippers.
I came to the classroom door
and received a compliment
for pink healthy cheeks.

Marie Neumann



Skating in circles,
backwards, number eight,
and pretzels;
trying do not fall.

It's getting dark
and time to go home.
Did you ever try number 4?

Marie Neumann

Birches Sweet Shop

Up the two steps
Up the two steps
Magical sight awaits
Jars lined on shelves

Sweets colours of the rainbow
Rhubarb & custard
Sherbet lemons
Mint humbugs
Pear drops
Acid drops

Muffled in hat and scarf
Penny tucked in glove
Small hand reaches up to the counter

'Pennyworth of winter warmers please'
Popped into the mouth
A warm glow trickles down the throat
Spreads through the body

Footprints in the snow
Icy pavements
Lead the way to school
Wet coats hung on hooks

Tucked away hidden in satchel
Small crumpled paper bag
Sneaked into classroom
Trusty winter warmers

Pauline Faulkner


Anna's Collage - A Winter Childhood

From a WOW collage workshop led by Sue Rabbett


Artwork by John Joseph Sheehy


(Winter Childhood Morning 1960’s)

Jack Frost impressionistic
inside of bedroom window.
Lino sharp cold, on warm feet,
muffled hunting for
comfort of slippers.

Down to gloom-shadow
living room, single
light bulb tries, but
never quite makes it
into every corner.

Two bar electric fire
perch on edge of chair,
breakfast served up
on a stool,
blank TV.

Jan Hedger

Winters childhood snowing

I love the heavy snow fall
The grounds covered over cars buried
The rooftops white the trees the land
Disappearing a new landscape
The rivers frozen icicles from the gutters
Animal tracks in the snow
In the early fifties I remember building
The first snowman putting a pipe in his mouth
Expecting him to speak
Frozen hands and feet numb
The thaw coming the melt
The loss
The snowman dying withering away
The grass reappearing
The school reopening
As the snow melted away
I loved that snow fall that winter
So long long away back long ago

John Joseph Sheehy


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