“Christmas Afterthought” by James Whitcomb Riley and listen to Grandma’s Kiwi Christmas on National Radio NZ, Christmas Eve

After a thoughtful, almost painful pause,
Bub sighed, “I’m sorry fer old Santy Claus:
They wuz no Santy Claus, ner couldn’t be,
When he wuz ist a little boy like me!”

I thought this poem was a rather sweet sad thought. I have never thought of Santa being a little boy.  But I expect he came from a long line of Santas and what a great time he would have had growing up…all those elves for company and plenty of toys to play with not to mention rides on reindeer and learning to ski and snowboard. To find out more about James Riley 1849-1916, please go here. “When Riley died, Woodrow Wilson called him “a man who imparted joyful pleasure and a thoughtful view of many things that other men would have missed,” and some 35,000 people filed past his casket in the Indiana State Capitol.”

I wish all of you whether you celebrate Christmas or not, a time of peace with lots love and joy thrown in. I shall be enjoying family time and the emphasis will be on catching up with each other. There will be a lot of extra joy this Christmas as my grandchildren, one aged eight months, the other three years, have an infectious love of life.

If you like listening to radio you can hear my children’s story Grandma’s Kiwi Christmas read aloud on Radio NZ National Storytime on Christmas Eve 24th December between 6am and 7am. Grandmas Kiwi Christmas is the second story and you will enjoy all the others as well!




Tuesday Poem-Walking an imaginary dog-by Gordon Challis

I am re posting this poem today (with updates) in memory of Gordon Challis who died on 2nd March this year

You have to do this where I live —
the caravan park does not allow real ones.
Every morning
I slip out before too many people are around
dragging the dog at first
finding any spare power points
available to charge him up;
those with caravans already there
he pisses on
discharging an electrolytic urine
which strips the paint.
Then we try
outside the park: the sandflats of the creek,
the oyster-bladed rocks, the mangroves’
many attempts to start out again for heaven.

He sniffs heaven
in onion smells before the steak goes on
and makes no judgement whether breakfast
is the right time.

I go behind him holding the leash
gently though not letting him
surge too far foraging ahead
not too far down my road.
To passers-by I would appear
a blind man trusting my hand
to scan for obstacles or
reaching out to touch the small face of a child.

(c) Gordon Challis

Gordon lived in Golden Bay with his wife Penny. I am lucky enough to have been lunching with them both, when Gordon’s second collection of poems arrived, fresh from the publisher. Although Penny and I badgered him to open it at once, Gordon remained quiet and focused and refused to touch it until lunch was completed. I think his poetry has the same approach…carefully crafted and considered.

When I asked for some background to the above poem, Gordon said…’We were living in a caravan park in Northern NSW.  Animals, especially dogs, were not allowed. In the end Annie Laurie our cat, caused trouble and we moved into a flat.’  From simple beginnings….

Photo by Neil Wilson, Golden Bay Weekly.

This poem was published in Gordon’s second collection,  ‘Other Side of the Brain’, (Steele Roberts 2003). It was selected as one of the ‘Best NZ Poems 2003’ and later  published in ‘The Best of the Best,’ (Manhire,Bill (ed) Wilkins, Damien (ed) Published 2011.

To listen to Gordon reading the poem, click this link and scroll down to Gordon Challis.

March 2018 – Gordon died in Golden Bay earlier this month. When I think of him now it will be in pictures of him running on the beach with his beloved wife Penny …not too many years ago…sitting on his chair with a pen and paper quietly jotting down a line or two and quite recently striding along to the shops looking like an English country gent with his flat cap on his head.

For the latest Wikipedia update on Gordon go here

To read Steve Braunias’ memorial review of Gordon Challis go here

To honour Golden Bay’s hidden treasure of a poet, Gordon Challis, who passed away this year on March 2nd, GB Live Poets is holding a tribute evening on 26 April at 7:30pm. Join them to launch Gordon’s last collection of poetry and set of Spanish translations.

To read more poetry for Tuesday you can visit the Tuesday Poem archive where Tuesday Poets are still to be found posting poetry and literary news.