Category Archives: Poems

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS…UPDATED

Twelve Days of Christmas…2013 version

On the first day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me…

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the second day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the third day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the fourth day of Christmas

My true love gave to me,

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the fifth day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the sixth day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the seventh day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Seven fudge-nut brownies,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the eighth day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Eight Margaritas!

Seven fudge-nut brownies,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the ninth day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Nine bacon-weenies,

Eight Margaritas!

Seven fudge-nut brownies,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the tenth day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

TEN Alka-Seltzers!

Nine bacon-weenies,

Eight Margaritas!

Seven fudge-nut brownies,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the eleventh day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Eleven minty Rolaids,

TEN Alka-Seltzers!

Nine bacon-weenies,

Eight Margaritas!

Seven fudge-nut brownies,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the twelfth day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me…

Twelve Pepto-Bismals,

Eleven minty Rolaids,

TEN Alka-Seltzers!

Nine bacon-weenies,

Eight Margaritas!

Seven fudge-nut brownies,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the thirteenth day of Christmas….

I had my stomach pumped.

 

– Sandra Lee Smith

AT THE KITCHEN TABLE

AT THE KITCHEN TABLE

At the kitchen table

We did our homework

While my mother stood at the ironing board

Ironing our dresses, shirts, pants, blouses, and skirts.

At the kitchen table

We listened to the Crosley radio

On top of the refrigerator

While the Lone Ranger, Amos & Andy,

Our Miss Brooks and many others

Filled our minds with images.

At the kitchen table

I learned all my times tables,

And how to type on a standard Underwood typewriter

Using two fingers,

Until I got in high school

And learned to type

Using all ten fingers.

At the kitchen table

We created homemade Christmas ornaments

Out of walnut shells and the caps to milk bottles.

At the kitchen table

We had dinner every night

At 6 O clock sharp

My mother on the left end of the table and my father

On the right.

I sat at my mother’s right,

On the end of the left side of the table

Because I was left handed.

My brothers sat across from me

And Billy spilled his milk

Until we were all forbidden to have any milk

Until after dinner.

At the kitchen table

 We said grace

And prayed for the soldiers in Korea

And my brother at St Francis Seminary

Where he only lasted a year -

But the prayers continued nonetheless

Because once started,

My father couldn’t stop.

We said Our Fathers

And Hail Marys

And Glory Be’s

Until our dinner was almost cold.

At the kitchen table

We were first and foremost

A family

Even though

Sometimes I didn’t like the entrée

And sat

At the kitchen table

For hours

Staring at cold unappetizing hasenpheffer

Or mom’s slimy boiled cabbage

Or whatever it was

That I didn’t like.

It was also

At the kitchen table

That my brothers Biff & Bill

Started a fire which burned a hole

In the oilcloth tablecloth

Until someone put out the fire.

It was at the kitchen table

That my parents

And their friends

Played cards

And ate bowls of chili

And drank cups of coffee.

It was at the kitchen table

Where there was a meeting

Of the minds.

And sometimes

Not.

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted MAY 16 2009

 

 

MAMA’S MAKING SOUP TODAY

MAMA’S MAKING SOUP TODAY

At breakfast mama tells us all

She’s making soup today,

And we all know just what that means,

We’d better stay out of her way.

 

‘Cause when my mama’s making soup

She makes a great big pot.

And some of it gets canned in jars

Because there’s such a lot.

 

From the garden come the carrots,

String beans and tomatoes,

From the cellar, pa brings out

A bushel of potatoes.

 

From the hen house mama takes

A hen that isn’t laying,

And as she wrings the chicken’s neck

She tells it to start praying.

 

From her herb garden by the door,

She takes parsley and some onions,

Checking stems so carefully,

She only wants the young ones.

 

She tells me to fetch water from

The well, and fill the pot,

And I ask Pa to help me out,

Because it weighs a lot.

 

Mama puts her apron on, and

Sharpens up her butcher knife,

When mama gets that soup look on,

You’d best run for your own life.

 

She’s peeling carrots, chopping beans,

And crushing up tomatoes,

And all the while she’s peeling and

Chopping up potatoes;

 

She throws the peelings out the door

And all the hens come running,

And gather round to hunt and peck

Where the cats are sunning.

 

Pa goes to fetch the mason jars

Stored down in the cellar,

And brings them up for me to wash,

‘Cause I’m such a cordial fellow.

 

Before long, Mama’s kettle boils

With vegetables and chicken,

And anyone who crosses ma

Is sure to get a licking.

 

The canning jars go into a pot

And mama cooks them, too,

And when the soup has cooked enough,

There’s plenty more to do.

 

Pa and I help mama fill

The jars up to the top,

And get the canner boiling

‘Til the water’s really hot.

 

When the jars have boiled enough

And are lined up on the table,

We all have a bite of soup,

And some bread, if we are able.

 

Into the pantry jars will line

The shelves from left to right

And I’ll be thinking of that soup

Long into the night.

 

–Sandra Lee Smith (FROM MY “AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD” SERIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

T’was a Week Before Christmas

T’WAS A WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS

T’was a week before Christmas

And all through the house

Gift-wrap was littered, it

Even covered a spouse,

Who sat forlorn in his old easy chair,

Wondering if there was

An extra cookie to spare—

For cookies were baked

And filled every tin

But to eat even one

Would be considered a sin—

(Unless it was one that was broken or burned)

Decorations hung everywhere that you turned.

In the guest room, presents were piled everywhere,

And trees were put up, not a moment to spare—

Twinkling lights and ornaments too,

But it will look pretty when we’re all through—

I’ve scorched all my fingers giving candy a test

And thought it was time that I had a good rest;

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,

I dashed to the door to see what was the matter;

Up on a ladder, Grandpa swayed to and fro—

Trying to decide where fake reindeer should go—

I was sure he would fall and smash all the lights;

I shouted come down and we’ll fix it all right!

The dollhouse is back where it belongs

And hundreds of CDs play holiday songs,

Pork Loin’s in the freezer and wood on the fire,

Eggnog in the frig, we hope will inspire

But if not there is brandy, bourbon, and port

To serve every guest who is a good sport;

We’ll work at it all until we fall with a jerk

And let Santa get credit for all our hard work!

–Sandra Lee Smith

In memory of Robert Fend who willingly climbed up on the roof every year to hang lights or  install fake  reindeer. He is still greatly missed by the grandkids and me.

 

­

 

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, 2012 VERSION

On the first day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me…

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the second day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the third day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

On the fourth day of Christmas

My true love gave to me,

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

On the fifth day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

On the sixth day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

On the seventh day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Seven fudge-nut brownies,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

On the eighth day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Eight Margaritas!

Seven fudge-nut brownies,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

On the ninth day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Nine bacon-weenies,

Eight Margaritas!

Seven fudge-nut brownies,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

On the tenth day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

TEN Alka-Seltzers!

Nine bacon-weenies,

Eight Margaritas!

Seven fudge-nut brownies,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me,

Eleven minty Rolaids,

TEN Alka-Seltzers!

Nine bacon-weenies,

Eight Margaritas!

Seven fudge-nut brownies,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me…

Twelve Pepto-Bismals,

Eleven minty Rolaids,

TEN Alka-Seltzers!

Nine bacon-weenies,

Eight Margaritas!

Seven fudge-nut brownies,

Six rum-laced fruitcakes,

Five pumpkin pies!

Four candy canes,

Three baked hens,

Two chocolate Dove bars,

A roasted partridge and a wedge of Brie.

 

On the thirteenth day of Christmas….

I had my stomach pumped.

– Sandra Lee Smith

 

LEFTOVER CAKE

LEFTOVER CAKE

When I was a little girl,
perhaps once or twice a year
my parents would have a party,
sometimes it was a New Years Eve celebration
to which children were not invited;
I’m not sure what we did
to occupy ourselves in our rooms on the second floor,
but what I remember is
the next morning
there were many tumblers
with an inch or two of liquid
at the bottom—but which did not taste very good.
I suspect my brothers may have
poured all the dregs together
to see what they had missed,
but what I remember best
is the remains of a cake
Left laying out on the table
now crusty and dried out–
but cake…was cake….no matter what its condition
so while my parents slept
We polished off the cake.

–Sandra Lee Smith

WHEN MAMA BAKES A CAKE

Sometimes when breakfast dishes have
Been washed and put away,
My mama looks at me and says
“Let’s bake a cake today!”
From a peg she takes her apron
While from a low peg, I take mine,
We tie the strings behind our backs,
And don’t we look just fine?
Mama’s biggest yellow bowl
Stands upon the kitchen table,
And I step up on a little stool,
To help, because I’m able.
Mama cracks some eggs fresh from the barn,
I take a fork and stir them up,
You have to beat those eggs a lot,
Before you can add a cup
Of sugar, butter, flour too,
And soda for the rising,
And Mama grates some nutmeg in,
For a taste that’s right surprising;
It’s my job to butter up the pans
And dust them both with flour,
And then the cakes go into bake,
And that takes ‘near an hour.
While they bake, we tidied up,
And tiptoe cross the floor,
Cause you don’t want those cakes to fall,
And have to make some more.
The kitchen fills with spicy scent,
And I can hardly stand the wait,
It’s always something special, when
My Mama bakes a cake.

–Sandra Lee Smith

NO TIES ON EARTH TO BIND HIM (FOR ROBERT)

NO TIES ON EARTH TO BIND HIM
(For Robert)

No ties on earth to bind him,
This spirit freely soars,
Spanning mighty mountains,
Skimming distant shores.
Amongst the stars in heaven,
Beyond the reach of man,
This spirit wakes in wonder,
And cries aloud, “I can!”

And seeing those who loved him,
Still bound by earthly ties,
He hears their sounds of mourning,
And feels their sorrowed cries.
Yet from that timeless, distant space,
Beyond the reach of man,
His spirit wakes in wonder,
And calls to home, “I am!”

–Sandra Lee Smith,
September 22, 2011

ONE DAY WHEN MAMA AND PAPA WENT TO TOWN

One summer morning I woke up
And much to my surprise,
I didn’t smell the coffee brewing;
I went down—and could not believe my eyes;

There mama sat, in her Sunday best
With gloves, her purse and hat –
Then pa came in –and he’s dressed up too,
What could I make of that!

He said “The team is hitched to go”
Mama said “I’m ready too,
I just need to give young sis a list
Of things for her to do”

My eyes were wide; I took the list
That mama wrote for me;
I was to go and gather eggs,
And give the hens some feed;

I was to take some jars from the pantry shelf,
Some applesauce and beets,
And there was bread and butter that
My brother and I could eat.

”He’s got his own chores,” Papa said,
And “You have got your own,
Don’t want to hear about no fussing,
Feuding over some old bone”

“Yessir,” I said, my eyes still on
The list that seemed so long,
Ma said “I want you to make up supper
And we’ll eat when we get home”

“Yes mam,” I answered, feeling fearful,
They’d never gone away before;
Mama gave me a kiss and off they went
Out through the kitchen door.

I fixed tea for Bud and milk for me,
And got out bread and jelly,
I ate a lot of fresh baked bread
To satisfy my belly.

Then Bud went out to tend the pigs
And led the cows to pasture,
Then he went out to sow the seed
That Pa said he should master.

With mama’s basket, I gathered eggs,
And fed the hens some mash,
Mama sells the eggs in town,
That’s how she gets some cash.

I cleaned the eggs like mama did,
And laid them down in straw,
I swept the kitchen and the yard,
It wasn’t hard at all.

I brought up applesauce and beets,
And then thought I’d bake a cake;
I followed mama’s recipe
And put it in to bake,

From the smokehouse I cut a slice
Of ham and chopped it up,
Then in a pot I put runner beans
And carrots, ‘bout a cup,

Midday my brother came to eat
More mama’s bread, and butter,
Then I tidied up the kitchen,
So there wasn’t any clutter.

‘Bout supper time it all was done,
And I had the table set,
When we heard the wagon wheels,
Bud said “That’s them, I bet”.

Oh, pa and mama praised us both
And said we’d done them proud,
They ate the supper that I made,
And Pat said that he allowed

He’d left some room to try the cake,
I fixed the plates with pride.
I saw my mama’s eyes fill up;
The first time I’d seen her cry.

Then Papa said “We have some news”
We wondered what it was,
They went to see the bank, today,
And the reason was, because,

He said they’d paid the mortgage off,
The farm was free and clear.
Bud and I stood up and clapped
And gave a rousing cheer.

I really didn’t understand
How much it meant, that day,
Years would pass before I knew,
By now I’m old and gray;

Bud and I stayed on the farm
Long after our folks had died,
And now the land belongs to us;
I feel gratitude, inside;

It could have all been left to Bud,
A lot of people think that way,
But papa left it to me, too,
There was naught anyone could say.

And so I cooked and kept the house
And tended to Ma’s hens;
I sold the eggs to folks in town.
The circle never ends.

–Sandra Lee Smith

WHEN IT’S CHRISTMAS ON THE PRAIRIE

Come winter on the prairie and as far as you can see,
Snow makes a great white blanket across the endless prairie sea,
Pa gets the big sleigh from the barn and greases up the blades,
To make the pulling easier for the horses, on the grades.

Mama takes out the oldest blankets, that help to keep us warm,
Pa checks the sleigh most carefully, to keep us all from harm.
Then snug in mittens, scarves and coats that mama made from wool,
Pa takes us every morning to our little country school.

He stays a while to help our teacher fill the old wood bin,
She thanks him with a curtsy, brings out the gentleman in him.
We students hang our coats and things in the cloak room at the back,
And teacher claps her hands and says, “Since Christmas’s coming that—

Today we’re going to decorate a tree that kind Mr. Mc Clune
Went up north to get for us and will bring it to us soon,
For now we’ll all make popcorn garlands and chains of colored paper,”
And from a box she lifts up a silver star—nothing had escaped her.

No reading, writin’, rithmetic, no studying today!
We’re going to decorate a tree and enjoy a day of play;
On Christmas Eve our families will come to see the tree,
And Santa will come and give us each a bag of candy, free!

“Tain’t no Santa,” One of the big boys in the back row shouted out,
The little girls in front began to shriek and cry and pout;
My younger sis is with the little girls that were in tears.
I knew I had to do something to take away their fears.

“You take that back!” I said with fists clenched, ready for a fight,
When teacher intervened and said “Now, boys, this isn’t right.
On Christmas we all celebrate the birth of Christ the King,
George, you say you’re sorry and we’ll all forget this thing.”

Then teacher told a story, while we cut and pasted rings,
As we made a garland for our tree, she told of many things,
Of the birth of one small baby, in a manger far away,
And how folks far away and near remember Him on this day.

She told about Saint Nicholas who filled the wooden shoes,
Of all the good Dutch boys and girls to remember this Good News,
She said how now, we all remember Jesus in this way,
And all of us remember Him on every Christmas Day.

The big boy, George, he was abashed, and said he didn’t mean it,
But he had no ma or pa and no Santa Claus would visit;
He lived with one old aunt who had no time for foolishness,
No time for trees or holly, for Santa Claus or Christmas.

On Christmas Eve our families came and crowded in the room,
We’d cleaned our desks, the blackboard, and candles chased off gloom,
Then Santa came and brought a sack, and we all lined up to get
A little bag of peppermints, a night we’d not forget.

When all the candy had been passed out, Santa stood upright
And asked, “I wonder if a boy named George is here tonight?”
George came forward and I noticed that his face had turned beet red;
As he said “I’m sorry, Santa, I really didn’t mean to be so bad.”

“Oh, I know that!” Santa laughed, “Why, I know what’s good and true,
There’s just one gift I have to give, and George this one’s for you!”
And from his burlap bag, he reached and handed George a box;
George opened it and all of us heard him gasp with shock;

Inside the box there was a very fine Swiss army knife;
George’s eyes lit up with wonder, “I’ve wanted one all my life,
But,” he said, “I never told this to a single living soul!”
Santa patted him on his shoulder and said “Oh, George, I know!”

We all shed tears and teacher said “Let us sing a song of praise,
That we all remember this night all our living days.”
And so we sang, then hurried home in the cold night with elation,
Before we left, I heard my ma extend a special invitation.

George said he didn’t think his aunt ever would agree,
Ma said “I won’t take no for an answer; dinner is at three.”
And so next day, George and his aunt and our teacher came for dinner,
That all of us told mama was so fine and sure a winner.

In the parlor there were presents for sis and George and me,
Scarves and mittens ma had stitched and it was plain to see
That no one had done this much for George in all his sorry life,
“Scarves and mittens!” George exclaimed, “And a fine Swiss Army knife!”

We all sipped hot tea with cookies ma had baked, just for this day,
And our guests all carried home tins of cookies wrapped so gay,
Before we went to bed that night, I heard my mother whisper,
“You dear old Claus, I do believe, I’d like to kiss your whiskers!”

Years later, when my pa was old frail and could not see,
I ventured then to ask him what had long been bothering me,
“How could you know,” I asked him, “About George and that army knife?”
“Because,” he said, “I wanted one, most of my own life.”

George married my kid sister and they have a bunch of boys;
Their farm is off in Kansas and sis tells me it’s a joy,
For George just loves his rowdy bunch, for them he’d give his life,
And every one of those young boys owns a fine Swiss Army knife.

–Sandra Lee Smith, 2010

(*This was a poem I wrote in a small collection of poems called An American Childhood, for my poetry club in 2010. Then my Canadian girlfriend, Doreen, took all of the American Childhood poetry and put it together with illustrations and one of her own poems, and compiled a booklet titled MAMA IN THE KITCHEN/AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD, 1900, RECEIPTS AND VERSE WRITTEN BY SANDRA LEE SMITH).