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About Rattle

Added to the poem file today – Rattle.

This is  about words that I own inside my head. But as the owner of the words I become the subject of the poem. Words unspoken are abstract. I have to be self possessed because no one else can own my words, no one can understand my words and no one needs me or my words.

In lock down we are all trying to stay calm, stay safe, move from day to day in an almost robotic fashion. There is little stimuli to talk about and very few people to talk to. We fill up with words that go no-where. We get out of the habit of saying anything very much, but the words are all in there, building up, with nowhere to go but round and round like marbles in a jar.

So why is the poem called Rattle? I was made aware of a poetry competition called Rattle (USA) and considered entering. So I looked at past winners. They rattled me. I will not enter competitions. I will not trouble people to read my prose in a competetive light for what I write is far away from the type of poem that seems to win awards. I can enjoy my own words for myself. I am self possessed.

Face coverings

We have been told to wear face masks. Not the medical grade ones. Just any old face covering. Mainly on public transport or in shops or places where it will be difficult to maintain the two metre distancing.

You Tube has videos showing how these can be made at home, from tee shirts or socks – no sewing necessary. I made a few in readiness, but decided to buy one anyway (homemade by someone else on eBay). It’s nice cotton, with a pouch for an extra layer of fabric, and a metal strip to fit securely over the bridge of the nose.

I went a short walk yesterday and gave it a trial run.
The weather was quite cool so I had a hoodie on
And as I walked along I was aware of my breathing
It was warm inside the mask, and moist.
I breathed harder – (I was going uphill)
The mask sucked into my mouth
and when I breathed out
My glasses steamed up
I thought
How long could I keep the mask on in a shop?
Or on a long train journey.
Then I thought
Our medical staff have been wearing one right through their shift
every day – sometimes twelve hours, while wearing heavy plastic overalls.
Not a little cotton one like mine.
A medical, proper PPE mask and I wondered how they could do it
and I wonder
If we had been made to wear them every day from the start
would we have had more appreciation for those nurses ?
And would fewer of us have needed hearses ?


Pandemic 2020

It will be an astonishing year for poetry, I am sure. Not mine. So many more people have found their poetic voice – or the need to put their feelings down in words. It is, after all, the most bizarre, truly aweful time we are living  through. Being isolated away from your friends and family, unable to see loved ones, even when they are sick in hospital – unable to even be with them at death – is dreadful. And still it spread.

Social activity stopped. No open mics, no pub nights talking ryhme and reason. And these are just minor things compared to the closure of shops factories and economic day to day living as we know it. So you could think, well no-one will be bothered about, or writing, poetry, then. Wrong. It is thriving more than ever. Poetry has always been an outlet for the strongest emotions – love to hate, anger to joy. So it’s bound to play a huge part in the history we are making this year.

We had to learn new skills. Well, I did anyway! Had to learn to use technology to stay in touch. To have meet-ups digitally, through Zoom and Google. I don’t really like it. But if you want to see anyone from outside your home – apart from the grocery drop-off man and a distanced chat with a neighbour – it has to be done on line.

It feels a bit monotonous, day to day living. So the chance to go on line to vent poetry with other like-minded folk is a bit of an occasion. I like quizzes and You Tube more. Less effort on my part for those, unless it’s a tough quiz.

Pandemic 2020

I’ve put away my winter clothes
But not got summer’s out
There’s no point wearing anything
If you’re never going out

I’m staying up till one a.m.
And stay in bed till nine
I’ve still got bags under my eyes
But otherwise
I’m fine.

We eat when we feel hungry
We eat when we are not
We try to ration out the food
And then we eat the lot

We lounge about in lounge suits
(Our clothes would be too tight)
Our visits are all virtual
Except for Thursday nights
Then we stand outside our doors
In praise of NHS
And the others we rely on
To get us through this mess

Amanda Samm 2020

Sample Poetry

You may notice, as you flick back through the poem page, that several poems are only half there, or just samples.

I am in the process of adding them back to full versions. But if you can’t wait, they are all in my book “Candle”, which is for sale ONLY through this web site. Just go to SHOP on the top menu.

Any thing added after publication (November 2019) is here in full. Many of thiese will be “lockdown poems” written during the 2020 Pandemic. I wonder what it will be like to look back on these in years to come.




Tales from the Signal Box

I’m putting together a collection of poems written by my Dad, Charles T Broughton. He was a railway signalman and in between his busy lever pulling and wire messaging he would write down in verse his thoughts about his work and colleagues up and down the line. At some point I hope to make it into a book, to include copies of  his handwritten verses. (You can see one of these in the gallery. It may be of interest to railway workers and signalmen, or anyone interested in railwayana in Sheffield area. The poems were written from his box at Orgreave between 1939 and 1953. (on the back of British Rail and LNER report paper!)

If interested you can contact me and I can send you a link to download the PDF

He later worked at Tinsley Marshalling Yard box, from it opening in 1965. He died in 1974, age 63

Charlie at Tinsley Yard Signal Box


Here’s a sample from “Controllers”  from 1945

A signalman down at Woodhouse West

Has made himself an awful pest

He wrote the super every day

To get the job he sought as a



The super said “His face haunts me

Lets give him the job so that he

don’t worry me about his brain

Let him be a bally* train



Since he had the job he sought

Trains have not run as they ought

I’ll tell you about it in a bit

But drivers say that they can spit



*bally – my dad’s only curse word. Crops up often!

There’s another three verses to this one.