Another birthday

My birthday seems to have come round even quicker this year!  I wrote this poem a while ago. I’m sure it will resonate with some of you. And if it doesn’t – it might give you a glimpse of what you have to look forward to!

Another birthday

Something happens

Between 59 and 60.

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.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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Happy birthday

Another birthday

Something happens

Between 59 and 60.

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.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


The 60s revisited

These two poems are very much of the sixties. Not surprising as that’s when I wrote them! 

You might think that my poem “A Light for Eleanor”  was influenced by the Beatles’ song, Eleanor Rigby. In fact, I wrote it long before the Beatles’ song was ever published.

Although Eleanor was written in the 60s, the kind of shallow person it describes could just as well be someone from today. 

A light for Eleanor

Eleanor shines like the moon on water

of a sky lit night

and rainbows in a pool

She moves like a nightmare

feeling her way through the people

and the days of their nights

Eleanor the party giver

reclines on the sofa

rings on her fingers

and round her eyes

Eleanor talks like typewriter keys

and all the men listen

their eyes and hands wandering

Eleanor, conventionally different,

conforming but not knowing.

In the murky light of morning

eyes take a long time to open

Hands reach out to touch

the wrinkled mattress

of yesterday’s hopes

Aftermath of an elegant evening

Eleanor wakes

to the ash of her life

on the floor.

 

Naomi

Who hears Naomi crying in the night?

Only the stars

There’s a passing plane

full of people

going to some suntanned beach

And Naomi turns to the pillow

She cries for yesterday

and the moon shines in

at her window

As the people on the plane

are served with Martinis

by sour faced girls

with sleep in their eyes

Naomi clasps the cover

in her dreams

The people on the plane

fasten their safety belts

Naomi sleeps

The stars have gone

 

 © Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


They chose to live in Sidcup

I often get inspiration on the tube. I look at the people around me and imagine their loves and lives.

This poem was written after visiting a colleague’s home in Sidcup, Kent. Afterwards, someone said, “I wonder why they chose to live in Sidcup.”

Going home on the tube I sat opposite a middle aged couple, tried to imagine their life together and wrote this:

They chose to live in Sidcup

They chose to live in Sidcup

Semi-detached – even in bed

They chose the rhythm method

and bred two bilious children

A well spaced boy and girl

After church on Sundays

they chose to watch

the Eamonn Andrews Show

from the pseudo leather sofa

where they nearly

conceived a third child

out of boredom

They chose to plant

rose bushes in the garden

Got more pleasure from the flower

than they did the marital bed

They chose to drink Nescafe

but roasted coffee beans

under the grill

to deceive the Women’s Guild

Tuesday coffee mornings

They chose to die in bed

Staking their claim

to a plot side by side

in the local cemetery

A birthday present to each other

But death chose them

one Monday morning

when their family size Sedan

with the tiger in its tank

and vote Tory on the windscreen

wrapped itself around

the shared drive lamp post

they had always meant to move

They chose to go to heaven.

Like  teenagers everywhere, I’d look at my parents and wonder why they stayed together. The next poem is a combination of my thoughts on my parents, a random couple I saw sitting on the tube and a young girl’s powerful imagination.

Thirty years ago

Thirty years ago

he liked her in red

so she wore it at their wedding

causing relatives to stare

and talk in shocked whispers.

He carried over the threshold

a carnation from the bouquet

in his teeth.

Thirty years ago

someone called her a brazen hussy

for wearing too much make-up

at a funeral.

Thirty years ago

he was given a black eye

by a black shirt

for distributing

peace pamphlets

at a fascist meeting.

Thirty years ago

they didn’t want any children

They were going to travel the world

Ride a camel in the Sahara

Race beetles in Barcelona

Hitch to Hong Kong

Sleep under the Seine in Paris.

Thirty years ago

they weren’t going to be

like their parents.

Thirty years ago

his teeth were his own

and she never coloured her hair.

Today, thirty years later

like a couple of bookends

they sit in silence

she, with her knitting

and he, watching

the football on the TV

as if his life depended

on the game.

Thirty years later

her face is pinched and drawn

the lips turned down.

Thirty years later

their childhood friends

are married

dead and dying

And the past is dead too

as far as they’re concerned.

For thirty years

they lived for their children

And now there’s nothing

to keep them together.

Thirty years later

they never did get to Paris.

And he wouldn’t remember

he once liked her in red.

 

 

© Andrea Neidle. My Life in Poems


The 1960s

The 1960s was a fabulous time to be growing up. Student revolution, flower power, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and Spurs winning the ‘Double’.

And with the death of  President Kennedy, his brother Robert, Martin Luther King, Marilyn Monroe and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, a time ripe for poetry.

This poem, written shortly after the death of Brian Jones, was published in the poetry magazine, Enigma. I also sent it to the radio  DJ John Peel. I still have the postcard he sent me with his reply.

To Brian Jones

I dreamed your death

before it was conceived

Acid on your mind

Held your hand

limp and flaccid

skin upon skin

whites of eyes staring.

Acid on your mind

stopped your ears with chlorine

feet twitching

in a mad dance of death.

The watcher turns his back

A generation weeps

And I who never wept or cried

I will not dream again.

 

I always feel a bit sad and reflective on new year’s eve. Here’s a poem I wrote at the end of 1966.

Seeing the old year out

Look over your shoulder

and the year has gone

Gone with the tide

and the sea-washed sandcastles

Gone with the rust of autumn leaves

swept up in a heap

by twilight men

Children are sliding

on the frozen park lake

and the gulls sweep

past my window

Look over your shoulder

Tomorrow is standing

in my light

Turn around for a second

and say goodbye

to the sands as endless

as time itself

and the dust that lies

thick upon remembered things

the sun on the bodies

of golden girls

the sky lit night

the shooting stars

that fell upon your dreams.

© Andrea Neidle. My Life in Poems