Intruders – Poem (Based On A True Story)

**(PLEASE NOTE: This poem is based on a true experience, apart from verse five, which uses a bit of poetic licence. All other facts are totally genuine).

I went to my drumming the night before last
Our group was small, but the beat was fast
I played on the bass and the conga drum
It’s a casual group, and we have so much fun

Someone on cymbals; another played chimes
The latter helps us to play in time
The tambourines made a jangling sound
We played together; the music profound

Passion abounded as we played out our hearts
And before we knew it, an hour had passed
Time to stop for some snacks and a brew*
Then, in walked three men that none of us knew

I was really frightened; who were these men?
Walking amongst us like familiar friends
They sat themselves down like they belonged there
I wanted to run, but I was too full of fear

**They said not to move as they carried knives
So there was no way we were risking our lives
Sitting silently, hoping they would go
Was this a nightmare or a horror show?

They started to damage our instruments
Our fear and anxiety were so immense
Drunk off their faces but high on cocaine
We thought we’d never get out again

One of our group took out their phone
It got grabbed and onto the floor it was thrown
Then they suddenly left; every single one
It was over as quickly as it had begun

We called the police but they couldn’t come
Too busy, they said; we sat feeling numb
They’d call round to see us the following day
Asked if we were hurt and were we okay

We picked up the pieces; couldn’t wait to get out
What the hell was that all about?
I came home still shocked and went straight to bed
Will this ordeal ever leave my head?


*A brew is a common British word for a pot or mug of tea.



(Image – Google free images)

Ashes To Ashes (A Letter To My Mum)

A LETTER TO MY DEAR, LATE MUM

Dearest Mum,

I am writing this letter six years after you left this world. I hope you are in a better place now. I have written to you several times since your death as I buy a card for each birthday and Mother’s Day. I go to an old-fashioned teashop in town and order a pot of tea with toast, and marmalade, just like you had for breakfast every morning. I feel your presence as I write loving words to you. I imagine you are sitting on the other side of my table, and I talk to you, in my mind, about all the happy times we had together. I keep the cards in my bedside drawer along with the keepsakes that I chose from your belongings, including your pale blue and white checked shirt that you wore so often. It was worn thin and frayed at the cuffs and collar because you didn’t want to pay for a new one. You were raised to make do and mend like many of your generation.

I’ve written to you before about your moving but beautiful funeral. It was a celebration of your life as much as it was saying goodbye to you.

A couple of weeks later, in the middle of January, it was your interment. It was chilly and overcast, and a few spots of rain had begun to fall. I felt anxious that day, not knowing what to expect, not having attended an interment before. I had travelled the forty miles from home to Golders Green Cemetery and met Jill, a year younger than me, who was already there. She had flown over from Australia. We called in at the Reception Office to let them know we were there and waited for my other sisters, Lindsay, Anna, and your sister, Ellen, to arrive.

Twenty minutes later, they’d all arrived, with Anna and Lindsay carefully carrying a sturdy but pretty box with your ashes. It was painted with an image of a beautiful garden in summer – blue sky, lush green grass and pink and yellow flowers. We had chosen it carefully because you were always so passionate about your neat and tidy garden. It was where you loved to be at every opportunity. It seemed only fitting. You wouldn’t have wanted a dark, sombre urn to leave this world in.

Shortly, the graveyard attendant took us to the place where you were to be laid to rest. One by one, shedding quiet tears, we said our goodbyes to you as the box was gently lowered into the ground. As the last of the earth was thrown into the plot, what felt like a miracle or sign happened. Just as we were laying our carefully-chosen pebbles on your grave, as is the custom in Jewish cemeteries, the rain stopped, and the dark clouds in the sky cleared. We gazed upwards to see bright sunshine and a blue sky. Despite it being January, the sun was surprisingly warm. As we looked around, we saw lots of butterflies (a couple of Tortoiseshells, a Red Admiral and several Cabbage Whites). Then, we heard the buzzing of bumble bees and watched as they collected nectar from the daisies surrounding your place of rest.

There was an old, battered wooden bench nearby. We sat side-by-side, gazing around at the signs of nature that had come to pay its respects and to say goodbye to you. As we left the cemetery, the sky clouded over again, the chill wind returned, and a few drops of rain fell onto the windscreen of Lindsay’s car as we left. I’m sure it was a higher power that had sent us those joyful moments amidst the sadness of our loss. I’m sure you would have felt the same had you still been with us.

I miss you very much, Mum, but I’ll never forget the special times we had together and the many, many conversations we had on the phone. You were always there for me through thick and thin, and I was always there for you, too. I am eternally grateful to you. You will be forever in my heart and my mind.

With all my fondest love,

Ellie xxx 💝

Photo by Mariya: https://www.pexels.com/

The Flat (True Life Short Story)

Ellie was nine and didn’t want to go. She never liked going there. The dog always smelled and was continually bothering the cat. All that meowing, hissing, growling and barking made her feel anxious. Surely, keeping two animals in such a tiny flat is cruel, especially with six children there, too. No wonder the cat and dog are so discontented and fractious – hardly surprising.

Ellie’s aunt, Lily, was strict and unkind. Ellie never liked her. She was harsh and emotionless, or so it seemed. She had a wicked streak in her, always telling off her young niece for biting her nails. She would rub nasty Germolene* onto the ends of Ellie’s fingers, so every time Ellie started to nibble her nails, she got the disgusting taste of the ointment. Why didn’t Lily understand how traumatised the child was? Ellie was always crying – she was missing her mum, naturally, with her being in hospital again. Why didn’t Lily see that?

Ellie got on reasonably well with her two older cousins and one of the twins, but the other was domineering and a bully. Ellie was scared of Amy, who always made a point of saying she was twenty minutes older than her twin, Kate. She was glad to have her own sister, Jill, there with her. Although her sister was one year younger than her, she was a fair bit bigger and would often stick up for Ellie if there were arguments or a lot of bossing going on.

Ellie hated going to the twins’ school. She was in a different class from Jill, and she also didn’t understand the language in Hebrew classes, as her own family didn’t use it, not being religious. She had no friends and always stood alone in the playground corner during break times. She felt so isolated and very much wanted to go home. She wondered how many weeks she’d have to stay at the flat. However long it was going to be, it was far, far too long.


*Germolene is a strong-smelling antiseptic ointment.


Photo by Help Stay on Unsplash

Writer’s Block

I’ve been sitting here all day, staring at the clock
I’m trying to write a poem, but I’ve got writer’s block
I’ve got several partly written, but none of them seem right
As I’m looking at this naked page where everything is white

I’m getting so frustrated; oh, come on, get on with it
I’m stuck on what to write, and time’s getting on a bit
Get your brain in gear, dear; don’t sit there in a huff
I know you’re getting bored, and you’ve really had enough

I could try again tomorrow, but I want to write today
There’s a lot on my mind, and so much I want to say
I’m refusing to give in and will not give up the fight
If I have to sit here crying all the way through the night

It’s coming up to dinner time; I’ve not got anywhere
I think I’ve lost the knack; at least, that’s what I fear
I could watch the telly, but the signal is on the blink
So, I sit here, mind vacant, and I don’t know what to think

I’m at the point of giving up, but I’ll know I’ll be so cross
If only I could say that I don’t give a blooming toss.
But, no, I simply can’t, as I was hell-bent on achieving
Now, I’ve lost all my words, and I sit here sadly, grieving.





Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

On The Job – (Fiction)

Good morning. Please come in. The drain in the kitchen sink is blocked, and the cold tap won’t stop dripping. I don’t want the water flooding over the top, so I called you urgently. Do you think you can fix it?

Yes, of course, I can fix it, madam; I’m a very experienced and qualified plumber. I’ve been doing this job for twenty-five years now, so I know my stuff. Let me have a look. I expect you’ve been putting fat down the sink, haven’t you? You housewives are all the same.

No, actually, I never put fat down the sink.

Huh! You know, you should never do that. It ends up bunging up the sewers; then some poor geezer has to go down there amongst all the crap to clear out other people’s shit.

I told you, I don’t put fat down the sink – ever.

Well, it looks that way to me. Tut! This job will take extra time to sort out.

Oh, dear – is that going to cost a lot more? I don’t have a lot of spare cash. You know, I used to do my own plumbing jobs before my accident.

I don’t think women should be casually messing around with plumbing. They don’t know what they’re doing – they’ll only make the problem ten times worse. They should leave it to the experts like myself.  Us men, that is.

There are female plumbers, too, you know.

Really!! They’re not as capable of tackling these tough jobs as we are. They haven’t got the hands for it.

I really think that’s unfair of you. After all, as I said, I used to be able to sort out problems like this, especially in my own home.

Look, madam! I’m a professional, as I’ve said. Do you want me to do this job or not!? If you’re going to cause a fuss and complain, you’d better find yourself another plumber to do the job. I’ve had enough of this. Women are so ungrateful these days. So, you just go ahead. After all, you might be happier with a woman plumber. If you can find one, that is. Ha ha!  Don’t come back to me when it all goes wrong.

Would you kindly leave, please?

With pleasure, madam! Just as soon as you pay me.

But you haven’t done anything.


That’s your fault, missus – you wanted the job done. I charge a call-out fee – that’ll be £85 plus £60 for any time up to the first hour. Think yourself bloody lucky I’m not charging you for the inconvenience.

I don’t have that sort of money, and my husband is at work, but I’ll ring him and ask him what time he’ll be back. Hold on, please.

Well, if I’m coming back later, that’s going to cost you extra – taking up more of my time like this. Hurry up!

“Oh, hello. This is Mrs Warren here. Could I please speak to my husband, Chief Superintendent Warren ……

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR – THIS PIECE ISN’T TO IMPLY THAT WOMEN ARE WEAKER THAN MEN, BUT TO SHOW A POWER STRUGGLE BETWEEN A PARTICULARLY STROPPY PLUMBER AND A SEEMINGLY TIMID WOMAN.

Image by Vien Hoang from Pixabay




Measles

I never remember my dreams, but last night, I woke up at 2.30am in a state of panic and fear. I’d had a nightmare, only this time, I remembered it vividly. I have no idea where it came from; I hadn’t been talking to anyone about my experience, and it wasn’t in my mind yesterday. I’m left wondering why I would remember this now. As I wrote this, I was shaking, recalling every detail as if it were yesterday. These are my memories of that time.

I remember when I was five.
and only very small
I got measles and constant nosebleeds
and had to go into hospital

It was called ‘The German Hospital’
It treated contagious infections
I was scared and wanted my teddy bear
At five, I needed affection

But it turned out to be a prison
and I was shut up all day in a cot
and when Mummy and Daddy left me there
I was only a little tot

Hardly anyone came to see me
I was in total isolation
Even the nurses who came every few hours
just gave me nasty medication

I couldn’t get out of the cot
though I’d stand there and call and cried
Surrounded by four solid walls
and trapped in there, inside

And I added my own tooth marks
to those that were there before
on the cot rail, in utter despair
hoping someone would walk through the door

Not another child did I see
the whole time I was in there
Mummy and Daddy didn’t visit much
and nobody seemed to care

Not even an ounce of kindness
did I get in that awful place
and I stood for  hours, rocking my cot
with tears streaming down my face.


Feathers (Fiction)

Flash Fiction (My First Attempt)

Over the weekend and today, I wrote two pieces of coursework to send to my tutor. One was a 2,500-word true-life short story, which I may share another time. The other, today, was my first-ever attempt at flash fiction (under 300 words). As I said to my blogging friend, Jeff Cann, yesterday, I never write fiction, having always said I can’t do it, so this is unusual for me. I thought I’d share it with you here.

FEATHERS

Andrea was washing the dishes when she was startled by a scream from outside. She hobbled over to the kitchen window and looked to see where the sound had come from. A minute later, the phone rang. As she answered it, the irate voice of her neighbour shouted, “your bloody cat has killed a pigeon in my garden,” to which Andrea replied, “I’m really sorry, but how do you know it was my Lucy? She’s never caught a bird before; several cats prowl this area.”

The voice yelled, “Your cat was sitting nearby and looking very proud.”

She smiled to herself and tried to visualise a proud cat. “You’ll have to come and clear this mess up,” Mick demanded.

Andrea explained she’d injured her ankle, so she couldn’t help. She felt quite sorry for Mick now, having to deal with the feathered casualty and knowing how much he hated cats. She felt sorrier for the pigeon, as she loved all wildlife. She apologised, still not convinced it was Lucy’s fault but wanting to keep the peace. They’d always been good neighbours up until now; it would be a shame to fall out over this one incident.

She offered Mick some plastic bags and old gardening gloves to clear up the dead body. Five minutes later, she could hear him cussing as he dealt with the corpse in his back garden. Andrea finished washing up, despite the water being only lukewarm now. She glanced up and was horrified to see Mick, having hopped quietly over the low fence, furtively creeping along the wall to her dustbin. He lifted the lid and unceremoniously plopped the dead bird in.

Now, he was the one who was smiling.



Busy, Busy, Busy

I’m suddenly so busy; I don’t know where to start
I decided last week to try my hand at art
Monday morning came, and I trotted off to town
Got soaked on the way as the rain thundered down

The art group was crowded, taking turns with the paint
and I really do not have the patience of a saint
I left rather early as I didn’t want to wait
with half a piece of work that I didn’t think was great

Tuesday morning is my own; perhaps time to write
I’m short on ideas, so will my piece be trite?
My imagination frazzled; do I really want to try,
or shall I stop here and now and simply say goodbye?

Tuesday afternoon, I’m at the gardening group
It gets pretty chilly; I was glad I’d taken soup
But nothing’s really growing, and the flowers are dead
I’ll wait till the spring and do something else instead

Wednesday night, I’m drumming; I have a brilliant time
I’m really in my element and feeling quite sublime
Thursday afternoons, I pick litter in the park
We walk around in twos like the creatures in the Ark

Friday comes around, and I have time for myself
I just cannot settle like the Elf on the Shelf*
I ought to read or write, but my concentration’s poor
not helped by the postman who is knocking at my door

Saturday at last, and I am seeing my best friend
I hope that our relationship will never, ever end
We’ll have lunch together; dip our biscuits in our tea
We think so similarly, and we rarely disagree

And finally, Sunday comes, and I’m free to lie in bed
I sleep too heavily and wake up with a sore head
The shopping comes from Tesco; now there’s food to eat
I snuck a bar of chocolate in; my happiness complete!


*Elf on the Shelf (for those who don’t know it) is a classic game that children get involved in at Christmas. There is a toy elf, and the parents/carers place it in different places around the home every night, so delighted children think the elf is moving around itself. My youngest grandchildren are sure that the elf is magic because of this!

Image by Brian Merrill from Pixabay


Filling Holes

I feel lost without the space where I once sat
And the easy way I used to be able to chat
About so much that was bothering me
Dealing with it all in my now absent therapy

I’m now on a waiting list; I hope a place comes soon
Feelings and sentiments are confusingly strewn
What to do with all this time that goes so slowly by
Waiting for a new assessment; I hope I qualify

I miss the reassurance that I could cope
I like to think I can, and I still have that hope
I must find other means with which to fill my days
Emotion, when choked back, finds other ways

I’ve found myself with lots of empty holes to fill
I somehow have the energy; I need to find the will
Thought I’d visit a workshop to try my hand at art
A brand new shiny hobby I could possibly start

Wednesday night, I’m going to circle drumming
Listen to guitars in the next room gently strumming
Beating the drums will get pent-up feelings out
Dispelling anxious tension, I have no doubt

I don’t need to be perfect; just try to keep the beat
It’s easy to catch on to; no need to be discreet
It’s about celebrating life and having lots of fun
I’m passionate about it, and I’m not the only one

Thursday afternoons, I’ll go out picking litter
Even when the weather is absolutely bitter
I’m with a group of people; wouldn’t dare to go alone
Filling council bags with rubbish that’s been thrown

Papers, tickets, fag ends scattered in the park
It keeps us very busy until it’s almost dark
Doing something positive to while away the time
As out of my despair, I’m slowly learning to climb.


Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

My Therapy – The End and The Beginning

As some of you will know, I had my last therapy session with my therapist, Chris, this afternoon. I’m not going to say it wasn’t tough because it was. We talked about what progress I’d made, even when I felt I wasn’t making any. We spoke about my poetry and whether I was going to continue writing. I am, naturally. I NEED to write – it’s the breath from my soul, and I would be lost and speechless without it. After I got home, admittedly in floods of tears, I wrote this poem to clear my mind and express my thoughts.

I’m thinking of taking a short break – not from writing, but, just for a while, from trying to keep up with all the blogs I follow (and that’s a lot) because I need some headspace to take stock of what I’m feeling, what I need and where I want to go from here. I will still be here and will, at least, try to read some blogs when I’m able to. I hope you will all understand.

Thank you so much to each of you who have been beside me and supported me through such a difficult few months. I’m eternally grateful. I’ll be back before too long.

With my love, Ellie Xx 💗🤍💗

~~~

My last session left me feeling distraught
I’m not being brave like I know I ought
Just before leaving, I asked for a hug
The answer was no, and I felt like a mug

She did, momentarily, hold my hand
Just briefly, though, as hugging was banned
I thought that this was so very kind
It calmed my heart and soothed my mind

I duly filled out the last questionnaire
To see, on the whole, how well I’d faired
I could see my progress, and more than a bit
I was somewhat surprised; I have to admit

Now, I have to wait for quite some time
I’ve got an awful long way to climb
I won’t be with Chris, but someone new
I hope I can bond with that person, too

She said it’ll be months before I’m seen
I’m wondering what I can do in between
I’m trying to find some way to cope
without completely losing all hope

I owe it to Chris, and I owe it to me
Not to turn this day into a tragedy
I hope I’ll be able to continue to write
It helps me to battle, and it helps me fight

I’m debating whether to take time out
To let myself fully get over this bout
I want to write, but less time to read
Right now, I have to do what I need.

“The last time always seems sad, but it isn’t really. The end of one thing is only the beginning of another.”

― Laura Ingalls Wilder, These Happy Golden Years

(Photo by Rowan Freeman on Unsplash)