Have we learned anything?

 

Thought for today

A hundred years and what have we learned?

We still send men to fight wars in our name

And those who are lucky enough to return

Their lives will never be the same again.

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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November 11th

I wrote this poem last year after watching an old soldier in a wheelchair being pushed past the Cenotaph in the Remembrance Day Service.

The poppies (watercolour and ink) are also my own work.

 The one who came home

In my dreams

I can still hear

The crack crack crack

Of the machine guns

And I fear

Waking to find

I am still there

Knee deep in the stinking muddy ooze

So I turn to the booze

And once a year

I get to be pushed

Past the Cenotaph

While the crowds cheer.

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Remembering Leonard Cohen

Today, 7 November 2018, is two years to the day that Leonard Cohen died. I wrote this poem after seeing him perform at The Wembley Arena on his last concert tour in the UK. It is called Tower of Song after Leonard Cohen’s song of the same name.

Tower of Song

He stands stiff and stooped,

legs buckling beneath him.

Back bent,

head bowed.

When he takes off his hat

we see an old man.

And then he takes the mic

and we hear that familiar voice.

Deeper, more rasping

but still with the power

to melt my heart.

And from the noise in the arena

thousands feel the same.

He stands quite still

almost in reverence

while his musicians perform

and his singers sing.

He speaks for a whole generation.

He lifts us

with his words,

his music,

his compassion.

When our time is up

no one wants to leave.

We stand and stamp

and clap and shout.

A huge roar

as he returns

to sing again

and again.

At the end

he speaks to every one of us

as if we are alone with him.

It is like receiving a priestly blessing.

His words move me to tears.

Hey Leonard

That’s no way to say goodbye.

Leonard Cohen

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Flash Fiction in 350 words

Writing short stories is a huge departure for me as I normally write poetry. So your feedback really means a lot to me.  If you enjoy this, please let me know.

The writers group I belong to (Watford Writers in the UK) often runs a flash fiction competition. We have to write to a specific topic and word count. The subject this time was “The Party”. Here’s what I wrote:

Something in Common

The party music was deafening.

“I can’t hear myself speak above this noise,” Jenny said to no one in particular. Then, turning to the woman nearest to her, “I hate works parties don’t you?”

“Makes a break from home” yelled the other into Jenny’s ear.

The music stopped for a second and the two women smiled at one another.  “I’m Jenny”, said one, “from the Hertford office”. “Donna,” volunteered the other, “Camden branch.”

They moved into the adjoining room where it was quieter and found some seats.  “Can’t wait to get these off”, said Donna slipping off her high heels. Jenny nodded in agreement.  “I’ve given up killer heels. It’s trainers for me from now on.  Much easier for school runs with our three.  You got kids Donna?”

“We have a dog. Hubbie doesn’t want children. Trouble is he’s away so much on business that I’m the one that has to walk it every day.

“It’s the same for me” Jenny sighed. “I do all the work – mine’s never around!”

“Men!” they exclaimed in unison.

“Yet we can’t live without them can we?” smiled Donna. “And mine’s not so bad.  He still knows how to give me a good time.”

“You’re lucky”, Jenny responded. “It’s different once you have kids. At the first hint of anything that needs doing, mine’s off.  Disappears for days!  Even at Christmas! Sometimes I feel like a single mum.  Even when we’re away it’s the same. Always self-catering and it’s all down to me. I might as well be at home.”

Donna nodded sympathetically. “Yes, I am lucky Jenny. We’ve had some fantastic holidays. Ever been to the Maldives?”

Jenny shook her head dismally. “The most we’ve ever had is a day trip to Calais.”

Donna was busily scrolling through her photos.

“Look – this was taken outside our holiday bungalow last Christmas.”  Jenny looked at the photo. Took off her glasses, cleaned them and peered at it again.  “I must have had too much to drink – your bloke looks just like my Dennis”.

“Dennis!” shrieked Donna. “My husband’s name is Dennis!”

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


 

 

 

 

 

 


Poetry Day!

Happy National Poetry Day!

Celebrate by writing a poem or reading one.

It’s never too late to do something poetical with your life.

 

#NationalPoetryDay


Fame at last!

Come and hear me read my poetry at The Watford Fringe!

Those of you who live in or near Watford, UK, come and hear me read my poetry at the Watford Fringe Festival.

Saturday 6 October.  3-3.30pm

At The Watford Museum

194 High Street

Watford WD17 2DT

There will be a small entrance charge of £2.50.  Bar available.

http://www.watfringe.com

#WatFringe

Please come over and say hello!


100 words on freedom

As a change from posting a poem, I thought you might like to see this ultra short story I have written.  It is barely a story. More like a paragraph. 100 words.

I’ve recently joined a local writers’ group.  Sometimes we are given a specific subject and we have to write a short story to a specific word count. Sometimes it’s 300 words. This time it was 100.

The subject for this story was “freedom” but we’re not permitted to use the word ‘freedom’ in the title.

We then read each other’s work (without knowing who wrote what) and mark it.

The top three then get small prizes!

Everyone then gets to read out their work to the group.  It’s great fun and writing to a specific word count is an excellent discipline.

Here’s my very short story on freedom. Let me know what you think.

 

Thump

Ow. It’s so tight in here. Claustrophobic. And I keep hearing this thump thump thump all the time. It’s driving me mad. And there’s barely anything to eat.

We’re on the move again. I’m being squeezed so much my head hurts. Ouch. Ow. It feels like my body is being used as a battering ram. I can’t take this much longer.

Wheeeee! Hey this feels good. Looks like I’m finally escaping from this hell hole. Face to face at last. I can’t wait to meet her.  I’ve waited nine long months for this.

Freedom – here I come!

 

100 words

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 

 


The Wailing Wall

It’s been an exciting – and challenging – month for Israel in this the 70th year of her existence.

The USA officially recognising Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel by moving its embassy there,  Netta winning the Eurovision Song Contest with her song, “Toy” and all the celebrations of Jerusalem Day. All this coupled with the violent protests orchestrated by Hamas along the border of Israel and the Gaza Strip.

I thought this might be a good time to re-blog my poem, The Wailing Wall, which I wrote on my very first visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.  Let me know if you like it.

The Wailing Wall

A wall like any other wall

you might say.

Way above us in the cracks

the doves of peace are sleeping.

Look down and you will see

the scraps of paper,

messages left for God.

For this is no ordinary wall

and these are no ordinary people.

When you put your face

close to the wall,

it is warm

and smells of all those

who have stood here before

and done as you are doing.

For this is no ordinary wall

and these are no ordinary people.

By my side

a woman sobs and prays,

caressing the wall with her hands

like someone blind.

I stand a little lost.

How do you pray

if you’ve never prayed before?

The air is sweet

and scented and warm

and filled with the sound

of singing and sobbing.

Suddenly

I find myself crying.

For this is no ordinary wall

and these are no ordinary people.

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Waiting

Waiting

We are all expectant!

Waiting for news of the latest Royal birth. Kate Middleton – the Duchess of Cambridge – went into labour today!

Here’s a  poem I have posted before. I wrote it in 2011 when our daughter was in labour and we were expecting our first grandchild.

Maybe this is how Kate Middleton’s mother is feeling right now …

Waiting

I have never waited like this before

Not for me

Pacing the floor

Instead I find small things to do

Mindless silly things

Anything to keep me from thinking

I walk round and round the garden

Round and round the house

The hours stretch out interminably

I wish I could somehow

Move things along

My thoughts say hurry hurry

I go to the florist

And buy a bouquet

The biggest, bluest, most beautiful bouquet

Now it will happen I think

Now I will get the call

The phone rings

It is my husband

He is also waiting

But while he waits

He has meetings, lunches

discussions, phone calls

He is not waiting

Like I am waiting

He is not thinking

as I am thinking

I am remembering

My first time

How time was telescoped

And what – for those waiting

Was so many hours

For me sped past so swiftly

So amazingly fast

I was surprised when

they said how long it had been

how long long long

I long to get that call

I long to know that all is well

And that my girl has had her boy

8 September 2011

worth waiting for

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Simple pleasures

Two years ago today I lost a very dear friend.  Whenever I think of her – which is often – I think of her in her garden. She got the greatest pleasure from the simplest things.  A flower growing between the cracks on her terrace. A patch of earth where she could plant something new. She loved nothing more than pottering in her garden, getting things to grow.

I wrote this poem for her.

 

Frankie’s garden

As I walk round her garden

Frankie is with me

She is there in the whispering grass

And the poppies growing so free

Last year, I said, the earth was bare

And now the flowers have grown

Last year, she said, I was still here

But now you are alone

A robin came to say hello

We wanted him to stay

He sang a song and then was gone

Like me he’s flown away, she said

Like me he’s flown away.

grass pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In memory of FH who passed away on 5th April, 2016.

May her memory be a blessing.

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 

 


Charity shop find

This anonymous poem about the English language fell out of a book I recently bought at a charity shop:

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.
Well done! And now you wish perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead, it’s said like bed, not bead-
for goodness’ sake don’t call it ‘deed’!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth, or brother,

And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s doze and rose and lose-
Just look them up- and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart –
Come, I’ve hardly made a start!

A dreadful language? Man alive!
I’d learned to speak it when I was five!
And yet to write it, the more I sigh,
I’ll not learn how ’til the day I die.

 

Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Mother and Child

You give birth and overnight your life changes. Now there’s someone else who’s always going  to come first with you.  For the rest of your life.  Even when your kids are grown up, barely a day goes by when you don’t think of them.

Here are some poems I’ve written about the parent/child relationship.

I wrote this first one after the birth of our daughter.

Hannah Sleeping                               

  I watch my child asleep in bed

What dreams can she be dreaming

The little sleepy head

I want to build a wall around her cot

Shield her from the world

Instead I tuck the blankets tight

And kiss my sleeping child goodnight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When she got married in 2010, I wrote this:

I watch my child become a wife

What dreams will she be dreaming

For the rest of her sweet life

Their love will build a wall around their world

Around their lives

And as I take her hand in mine

I wish that I could rewind time.

I wrote this next poem in 1995, about six months before my mother died. 

 Role Reversal

Today, I held my mother

sobbing in my arms

Stroking her soft,  fine hair

Her chin nuzzled on my chest

And I could smell

the unforgotten fragrance

of her skin

I held her close

as I have held my children

and felt the frailty of her age

How odd and imperceptibly

the tables turn

And those that you have leaned on

lean on you

Those that you had turned to

turn to you

Now she is the child

And I am the mother

The 6 March was 22 years to the day that my mother died. It often coincides with Mother’s Day in the UK.

  

I visited the grounds at Hoop Lane crematorium – as I do every year – where her ashes were scattered.

You might think that this is a depressing thing to do. But, at this time of the year, it is uplifting. There are thousands of crocuses as far as the eye can see.

For the first time ever, I had a go at writing a haiku.  This is a three line Japanese poem.  It must have five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third, final line.

Remembrance

Scattered crocuses

Ashes scattered on the grass:

Scattered memories

 

© Andrea Neidle. My Life in Poems


Seeds of friendship

Most of us know the poem, “To Daffodils” by William Wordsworth.

“I wandered lonely as a cloud … ”

Here is my version – a lighthearted take on the original. I hope you like it.

 

To Hollyhocks

I wandered barefoot in the sun

Having taken off my socks

And all at once I came upon

A clump of golden Hollyhocks

 

I pocketed some tiny seeds

They flew with me on Easyjet

I scattered them among my weeds

And with myself I had a bet

 

Could I get these seeds to grow

Among my dandelion clocks

And if they did how would I know

That these were truly Hollyhocks

 

A few months on a fabulous sight

Hollyhocks of every hue

It looks like I did something right

And then I gave some seeds to you

 

And then as quickly as they came

My flowers disappeared from sight

I looked for them but all in vain

They had just vanished overnight

 

I think my gardener was to blame

Mistook them for some flowering weeds

My garden didn’t look the same

And I hadn’t even kept the seeds

 

Then you and I met up for lunch

And I told you this tale of woe

Ah you said I have a hunch

That I still have some seeds you know

 

You kindly posted seeds to me

Just like the ones I once gave you

When you were here with friends for tea

Such a thoughtful thing to do

 

What goes around comes around they say

It looks like we will prove this true

And who knows maybe come next May

I’ll have more seeds to give to you

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 


The 7 Ages of Woman

The 7 Ages of Woman

 

 

 

 

 

Noise making

Milk taking

Night waking

 

Friend making

Exam taking

Internet dating

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love making

Love faking

Heart breaking

 

Breakfast making

Children waking

School taking

 

Bed making

Cake baking

Leaves raking

 

 

 

 

 

 

Limbs shaking

Bones aching

Will making

 

Heart aching

Leave taking

Forsaking

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Another year, another birthday

Think my posting this poem is going to become an annual event!

I can remember in my teens longing to be 21. And now I wish that time could go backwards and I could be 21 again!

Another year, another birthday

Something happens

Between 69 and 70

You become a senior

and all of a sudden

you don’t recognise

that person in the mirror

and on the scales.

You shuffle in your slippers

read the papers

and pop pills.

The receptionist

at the doctor’s

knows your name.

Complete strangers

call you my darling

and my dear.

You want to be offered seats

on trains

And flat shoes seem

a better option

than high heels.

You are now

a silver surfer

so you search for

senior bargains online

There must be some perk

to reaching this age.

Hotels offer you

twin beds

and disabled bathrooms.

11 o’clock at night

seems very late to be out

and you find yourself

wanting to nap

in the middle of the day.

Your children ask how you are

but don’t really want to know

and people say you look well

when they mean

you are looking good for your age.

You have become invisible

to the opposite sex

and to anyone

under forty.

People talk about “special” birthdays

and give you soppy smiles.

You wish you were

growing old disgracefully

but just don’t have the energy.

Come upstairs and make love to me

I read somewhere.

I can do one or the other

was the answer

Don’t expect me to do both.

I’ve started listening to the Archers

and the weather forecasts

Doing crosswords

and reading the obituaries

Seeing the names of

people I once knew

Thank goodness Mick Jagger

can still strut his stuff

and Macca too

still performing

whilst others the same age

languish in care homes

uncared for and forgotten.

It’s odd to think

that in ten years or so

I will look back at this time

And think myself young.

 

Age 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Remembering

 I wrote this next poem in 1995, about six months before my mother died.

 Role Reversal

Today, I held my mother

sobbing in my arms

Stroking her soft,  fine hair

Her chin nuzzled on my chest

And I could smell

the unforgotten fragrance

of her skin

I held her close

as I have held my children

and felt the frailty of her age

How odd and imperceptibly

the tables turn

And those that you have leaned on

lean on you

Those that you had turned to

turn to you

Now she is the child

And I am the mother

MUM AND DAD BEFORE THEY WERE ENGAGED. LATE 1920S? THEY WERE MARRIED IN 1936.SONY DSCmum

In memory of Freda Hetty Finn.  Born London, December 13 1910. Died 6 March 1996.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Tribute to Leonard Cohen

The man who has touched all of our lives with his songs is dead. I have been a fan of Leonard Cohen for as long as I can remember. I read his novels, I bought his poetry. I remember buying a hardba…

Source: Tribute to Leonard Cohen


Thoughts on Mother’s Day – 6 March 2016

Mother’s Day has come round again.

It is especially poignant for me this year as it falls upon the day that my own mother died – twenty years ago today.

How I wish I could tell her about all the good things that have happened in my life. Especially that – were she alive today – she would now have five great grandchildren.

The last of these, a baby girl, was born only two weeks ago. Our first granddaughter after four grandsons!

Welcome to the world – Lily Hetty Ross.

LILY BLOG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I make no apologies for reposting this poem I wrote for Mother’s Day last year:

 

Every Day is Mother’s Day

First smile, first laugh, first sweet embrace

The tender way they touch your face

Every day is mother’s day

 

First sit, first crawl, first tooth, first walk

The joy when they begin to talk

Every day is mother’s day 

 

The fun when they begin to play

The cries when they don’t get their way

Every day is mother’s day

 

The day they start to question why

And ask what happens when you die

Every day is mother’s day 

 

The climbs, the falls, the hurts, the tears

As they learn to overcome their fears

Every day is mother’s day

 

The very first day you’re on your own

You take them to school, come home alone

Every day is mother’s day

The very first time they stay out late

And you remember your first date

Every day is mother’s day

 

And then one day you’re on your own

They’ve fled the nest, the kids have gone

Every day is mother’s day

 

The love, the joy, the guilt, the pain

The more you give, the more you gain.

You know you’d do it all again

Every day is mother’s day.

20160103_180949 for blog

© Andrea Neidle

My Life in Poems


Pearl Harbour

PEARL HARBOUR

Two years ago I visited Pearl Harbour in Hawaii where on December 7 1941 hundreds of Japanese fighter planes made a surprise attack on the American naval base. More than 2000 soldiers and sailors died that day and another thousand were wounded. It was this that finally persuaded Franklin Roosevelt to enter the Second World War.

I wrote this poem after visiting the Arizona Memorial.

They were doing mundane things

Reading

Shaving

Chatting

Polishing their shoes

Writing letters home

Getting over the night before

When they’d been on the town

Dancing, drinking, kissing

Making love

Laughing

Living

They were young

And who knew

What tomorrow would bring

Now here they are entombed forever

In their watery grave

The list of names goes on and on and on

900 men

Taken by surprise

And to this day

Oil still seeps from the sunken ship

And lies there on the water

Like a fallen rainbow

They say it is the tears of the dead

Weeping

And we who are lucky enough to be alive

Weep for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 


My kind of man

My kind of man

Always knows his way

His sense of direction

Is sublime

All the time

He only speaks

Now and then

And only when

he has something

meaningful to say

He stays calm no matter what

And always keeps his cool

He’s no fool

He never shouts

Or spouts nonsense

Always in control

He doesn’t need to ask the way

Never says I told you so

There’s not a lot

He doesn’t know

Confident

Self assured

Relaxed

Knowledgeable

And above all

Invisible

Yes

Yes

He’s the voice on my GPS

Green light

Red light

I’m going to make it home tonight.

POEM PIC 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 


Chasing Picasso

Trapped between

glass fingers

pointing skywards

we find the

Chicago art museum

and wander down corridors

lit by Renoirs

come face to face

with a Modigliani

The Chagall windows

are bathed in light

and love

Among the floating couples

and dancing rabbis

I spy the Statue of Liberty

torch held high

Chagall’s homage to America

Ten minutes to closing

and we run to find the Picasso

breathless

hopeful

leaping stairs

two at a time

“We’re closing ma’am”

I’m here from England

I explain

It’s my last day

I must see the Picasso please

Amazingly he lets me through

We have a few seconds

in front of the Picasso

the old man with the guitar

Only time to take

one swift photo

one fleeting memory

We leave

breathless and laughing

I feel as if

I have been

chasing Picasso all my life

confusing

amazing

challenging

witty

audacious

Picasso

Hand in hand

we stride back to our hotel

under brilliant blue skies

and the startling backdrop

of skyscrapers

windows shimmering

and winking in the sunshine

watched by thousands

of office workers

trapped behind their desks

Tomorrow we fly home

Tomorrow

I find

I left

my camera

behind.

Old man with guitar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Waiting

Waiting

I have never waited like this before

Not for me

Pacing the floor

Instead I find small things to do

Mindless silly things

Anything to keep me from thinking

I walk round and round the garden

Round and round the house

The hours stretch out interminably

I wish I could somehow

Move things along

My thoughts say hurry hurry

I go to the florist

And buy a bouquet

The biggest, bluest, most beautiful bouquet

Now it will happen I think

Now I will get the call

The phone rings

It is my husband

He is also waiting

But while he waits

He has meetings, lunches

discussions, phone calls

He is not waiting

Like I am waiting

He is not thinking

as I am thinking

I am remembering

My first time

How time was telescoped

And what – for those waiting

Was so many hours

For me sped past so swiftly

So amazingly fast

I was surprised when

they said how long it had been

how long long long

I long to get that call

I long to know that all is well

And that my girl has had her boy

8 September 2011

worth waiting for

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Message from the author

 Unauthorized use of any of these poems and/or duplication of any of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner, Andrea Neidle, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrea Neidle (My Life in Poems) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 © Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems