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The Day I Met You

(For my nephew, James)

You probably know that after your birth, you had to stay in hospital. At that time, mothers could not stay with their babies.

Your mum was keen to breast feed so she expressed extra milk to leave at the hospital when she could not be there.

To get to hospital she was dependant on buses. Sometimes, she arrived to find they had already fed you formula which was upsetting as they would not keep the breast milk, and it had to be wasted.


As a child I had several bouts of tonsillitis. One bad infection was just after you were born. At that time it was the trend for children to have a tonsillectomy, and I went into hospital on Wednesday 21st December 1960


It was Doncaster Gate hospital – the same one that you were in, although a different ward. I had my operation on Thursday 22nd and we both came out of hospital on Christmas Eve, Saturday 24th, 1960. I was six years old. You were six weeks old. For Christmas dinner, I had my mother’s home made ice cream direct from a gas powered fridge and you had your mother’s milk direct from your mother.


That’s what I remember about the day I met you.




He Always Wanted to Say Things

Here is a poem I wanted to share. I find it very emotional and it means a lot to me. I first saw it on the staff room noticeboard of a children’s nursery when I was a student there.

It was attributed to R Nukerji – but I cannot confirm this was the original writer. Recent research suggests it was written by a Canadian student who commited suicide shortly after handing the poem in to his teacher. I think this might be “media hype”:  it does not detract – or add – to the message within the poem.

It has no official title other than its first line – so here is –

He always wanted to say things, but no-one understood.

He always wanted to say things but no one understood.
He always wanted to explain things but no one cared.

So he drew.

Sometimes he would just draw and it wasn’t anything.
He wanted to carve it in stone or write it in the sky.
He would lie out on the grass and look up at the sky and it
would be only him and the sky, and the things that needed saying.

And it was after that, that he drew the picture.
It was a beautiful picture.
He kept it under the pillow and would let no one see it.
He would look at it every night and think about it.
And when it was dark, and his eyes were closed, he could still see it.
It was all of him and he loved it.

When he started school he brought it with him.
Not to show anyone, but just to have like a friend.

It was funny about school.
He sat in a square, brown desk, like all the other square, brown desks,
and he thought it should be red.
And his room was a square, brown room like all the other rooms.
It was tight and close. And stiff.

He hated to hold the pencil, and the chalk, with his arm stiff
and his feet flat on the floor,  with the teacher watching
and watching.
And then he had to write numbers.
And they weren’t anything.
They were worse than the letters which could be something
if you put them together.
Ad the numbers were tight and square and he hated the whole thing.

The teacher came and spoke to him.
She told him to wear a tie like all the other boys.
He said he didn’t like them and she said it didn’t matter.
After that they drew.
He drew all yellow and it was the way he felt about morning.
And it was beautiful.

The teacher came and smiled at him.
“What’s this?”, she said.
“Why don’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing?
Isn’t it beautiful?”
It was all questions.

After that his mother bought him a tie and he always drew
aeroplanes and rocket ships like everyone else.
And he threw the old picture away.
And when he lay out alone looking at the sky it was big and blue and
all of everything, but he wasn’t any more.

He was square inside and brown, and his hands were stiff,
and he was like anyone else.
And the thing inside him that needed saying didn’t need saying anymore.

It had stopped pushing.
It was crushed, stiff.
Like everything else.


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