Some years ago my eldest son, now 23, decided to learn Mandarin, so I thought I’d have a crack at it too. Yes, I’m that malleable. The text sheets only had a couple of suggested names, so he became Handsome From the North and I, Winter Plum Blossom.

One of the punishments landed on my progeny when they’re being unhelpful is to have extracts of Hiawatha read to them until they do something useful. Works fabulously. If I intone, ‘By the shores of Gitche Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water,’ I get instant obedience. Very Pavlovian, but with less meringue.

Handsome recently bought his own Hiawatha, presumably because he wanted the younger ones to do something for him; I feel a clean bedroom/car coming on. My little grey cells thought this was funny; thus appeared an East/West fusion…


Handsome From The North they called him.

And his arm was strong as bear

And his bare arm strong as lion.

And his lion around was legend.


And his mother was a blossom.

Of the winter, of the plum.

But the cadence was against her.

In a single line, she couldn’t

Put her name, poor Winter P.

For the Blossom, it was too long.

Though the Winter it was quite short.

And the Plum was even shorter.

Thus she struggled, though her daughter

Was a student, English major.

Though she rambled, rules were broken.

Yet she could not get her name in.

So she failed, sweet Winter Plum



Then she cheated even more so,

Put the cart before the horse-o

Blossom Winter Plum for syntax.

Though it sounded strange and foreign,

BWP was somehow pleasing

For at school; some moons ago;

An acronym all pupils used

To denote a thing of no note

Waste paper bin: WPB.

Thus bin name Winter Plum Blossom

As it carries probs with cadence

Blossom Winter Plum she’ll be.


Handsome found that thus to ramble

Passed right down the family tree

Then he sweated and he cried out

For a rambler such he’ll be.

Nights of torment, nights of terror

And yet nothing he can do

For the fates have now decided

He shall be a rambler too.

Fly his puns as straight as arrows

Hitting target, makes him quiver,

Bad enough to make a bull sigh.

Bravely shaft you with his humour.

Other mortals bow to topics

Verses, rhymes of serious note;

But he won’t change his tone, for he

Will not be blue: ‘snot in his genes.


Handsome’s father, Ha Ha, said

To Handsome’s brother, Minihaha,

‘Caution! Near the Big-Sea-Water

Temptation’s lying all around:

Little magic playing boxes,

Designer envy: Gimme Gucci;

Sticks hit balls to flags on greens;

Squaws whose clothing don’t abound

In the sun the paleskin’s redskin.

Beware of Peeling Face and shun

Fall-Over-Water, Spicy Wind.

But these vices have a function:

For moral lessons: mock a sin.’


Handsome From The North; they’ve shelved him

Now in print his words abound

His story tomes now are book ends

Bound, his stories became ledge end.



© Winter Plum Blossom 2012


About alisongardiner1

Writer of YA series of books. Broadcaster/podcaster Litopia After Dark.
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