National Poetry Day Series

Remember, Remember the Babes in the Wood

I was busy murdering babies –
as you do
the cherub grins
the sapphire-eyed,
dark skinned,
beauties –
all dead.

It’s enough to make a writer cry.
it’s enough
to make
you throw away the pen
tear apart the keyboard,
by stinking key

my babies,
I loved your family
just enough
to see you die

Your silent tears
echoing through
to your brothers
and sisters,
as they hang their heads
onto the bloodied page
and weep.

                             -A J Ponder


AUTHOR COMMENTARY: Often my poems occur when one idea hits another, and not unlike chemistry, or maybe physics, how powerful they are depends very much on how fast the ideas collide and the weight they drag along with them. For a long time before I wrote this piece I’d been contemplating on how exactly to take the literary saying – kill your darlings/kill your babies to the next level. The literal death as opposed to the literary one, and I had the first line, “I was busy murdering babies, as you do -” but it hung there – alone. All my other ideas completely lacked an emotional kick.

I was thinking about this, and my own little cherubs when they were young – somehow whenever they were upset “The Babes in the Wood” poem always sprang to mind, and of course that leads to Hansel and Gretel and the tragic parental choice of watching your children starve to death or letting them die alone in the wood. Fortunately I’ve never had to make a choice that difficult, but it was exactly the emotional kick I needed and the poem tumbled out – albeit a little roughly. After all how fair would that be to write a poem about editing and then not have to do the hard yards?


A J Ponder is a member of the Tuesday Poem hub with her blog, An Affliction of Poetry. She likes to experiment with shape, style, rhyme and rhythm, often harking back to traditional styles. Best known for her children’s stories she most recently won the Sir Julius Vogel Best Short Story Award 2012 for Frankie and the Netball Clone. This year she was also runner up for the Arc 1.2 competition, The Future Always Wins, with a “gown up” story, ‘Dying for the Record’.


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