Beads, Make Up, And Pink

The writing on the sticker inside
Mrs Jones’  wardrobe said
“Likes to wear beads and make up.”
“Loves pink”.

Each morning after breakfast in bed,
after ward staff shower Mrs Jones,
they dress her.
She chooses her clothes for the day,
checks they brush her hair
as they should, and
stares at it in the mirror
beside her wardrobe.
Her hair is blue rinsed and
set like the Queen’s every Thursday
by the rest home’s hairdresser.
They powder her face –
her hand is unsteady –
then carefully apply her lipstick.
Finally her beads,
she must have her beads,
strands of them
looped round her neck.

One morning her dresses weren’t
back from the laundry  !
After much rummaging
of clean dry clothes
they found a pink jacket and dress
in the clothes baskets.
“Ah !  Mrs Jones’ colour !”
what a huge relief !  For
Mrs Jones was outspoken,
yes, strident at times.
The pink outfit she was
pleased to accept
and graciously paraded
in the residents’ lounge.

Originally posted 21 February 2016.

Beads, Make Up, And Pink

Going Home

“Mrs Jones, where are you going ?”
Why do they always say that ?

The cleaners with buckets and mops,
the women in white uniforms
call out as she passes
along corridors, past bedrooms.
She knows it is time to go home now.
Surely they understand that ?

She walks briskly downhill,
how to cross the road ?
with cars rushing by ?
She wants to reach the other side
to go back home again.
Two uniforms appear with a wheelchair
to take her back to the place that’s not home,
to the room that’s not hers.

“Mrs Jones, where are you going ?”
Why do they always say that ?
She walks out again
but her legs get too tired.
She tells the man pruning his bushes
she must sit on his wall to rest her legs.
He smiles, goes inside, returns with a chair.
Two uniforms appear with a wheelchair !
They greet and thank the man !!
He rang the place she had left !!

They take her  back along the road
to the place that’s not home,
to the room that’s not hers.
But she must go home now,
she’s been gone too long,
surely they understand that ?

They say she lives here now.
Her husband will come this afternoon
and visit her in her room.

Originally posted 19 February 2016.

Going Home


Mrs Jones did her home chores
all day as she ran her home
just as her foremothers did.
Mr Jones took all this as his due
for long days at a man’s job
just as his forefathers did.

After more than forty years
he was puzzled when
shopping was not done,
clothes were not washed.
Mrs Jones was puzzled too,
she stared at him blankly
when asked if dinner was ready.

Mr Jones knew what men did
which was not cooking dinner
but only he was cooking meals.

Mrs Jones did her best.
She put the pan on the element,
turned it on, then wandered outside
to stare at the magnolia tree.
She put in the plug
filled the hand basin
with hot water and
was shocked when
the bathroom floor
scalded her feet.

When Mr Jones came home from shopping
the iron was smoking on its board.
He awoke one morning to find
a fire in the pan on the stove.

The doctor filled in forms,
officials met Mrs Jones.
Mr Jones filled in forms
and visited places.

Mrs Jones moved into her rest home room,
they cook dinner for her there.
Mr Jones cooks his own dinner at home.

Originally posted 16 February 2016.


Passing pleasantries

Jem writes about the Sussex coast and countryside where he lives. I really liked this seagull conversation.



I overheard a conversation
above me in the sky
as two seagulls passed up in the blue
casually flying by
But as I am not fluent
in ‘Gull’ I’m sad to say
that I have no idea
of what was said there yesterday

But judging by their faces
I am pretty certain that
a pleasantry was there exchanged
during their short chat
“Hello Steve, a lovely day”
“Yes John, I quite agree”
“Are you going fishing later?”
“Great, I’ll see you out at sea”

I’d like to think that’s what was said
above as down below
Exchanging words of greeting
with others that we know
A passing word, a little smile
goes a long, long way
and can make quite the difference
to the pleasure of a day


Photo – Jempics

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Passing pleasantries

Seascapes II


A brilliant blue sky beach.
A rocky bank crowned with
blazing crimson flowered trees.
Two dinghies upended on the sterns
against that rocky bank.
Children playing on the sand
at the edge of the lapping
aquamarine wavelets
splashing to and fro.

The old man stared at this scene
from his faraway homeland
painted on the framed tile
given him by a niece visiting him
after many years’ separation
from siblings he had
willingly left behind.
Now home to him was more
than those siblings as
homesickness filled him.

He clutched that tile tightly
as his children and grandchildren
celebrated his milestone birthday,
telling each  one of his childhood
memories of the beach near
the home of his large family.

They saw his homesickness,
kept at bay into old age
now shoeing in his joy
in this little piece of home.

Originally posted 14 February 2016

Seascapes II

Seascapes I

The young sailor with
his comrades in arms
lined the ship’s railing
on the commander’s orders.

Young soldiers and sailors
of white colonist stock
now crossed two oceans
to support their parents’ homeland
in their fight for freedom.
They left behind the islands
that had become their own home.

On the deck stood a taua,
a company of warriors of the
seafaring race who had settled
these islands centuries earlier.
They too were crossing two oceans
to fight alongside the colonial soldiers.
In ritual chant and dance
they farewelled their homeland.
They called on Tangaroa the sea
to protect and guide them
as he had their tupuna,
their ancestors,
sailing the vast Pacific
seeking new homes.

Many of these warriors
of both races died and
were buried on foreign soil.

This young sailor survived the war,
married in his parents’ homeland.
He would only see his own home .islands
again at the end of his life.

Originally posted 12 February 2016

Seascapes I

War Effort

The young accountant at five feet four
was dogged and determined
in all his rugby playing.
Injuries to his back and knees
not fully healing
became worse with his myopic eyes
not having thick lenses while playing.

In September 1939
Britain embarked on war.
The twenty three year old
tried to enlist with his friends
to serve his country.
The army rejected
his bad back and knees,
myopia and thick lenses
as did the navy and air force.
With old men not accepted for war
he accounted by day, worked
nights and weekends at
the freezing works in season.
Long days and weeks for his country.
People talked, pointed him out.
An able bodied man !
He should be fighting !

A white feather*, symbol of cowardice
arrived anonymously in the mail.

Desperately he applied yet again
to each of the armed forces.
Again they rejected his back
his knees,  his glasses.
He returned to accounting
and the freezing works.
Long days and weeks for his country.

Another white feather arrived.

After the war his friends’
long days and weeks on
desert and ocean
set them apart from
his long days and weeks
in office and freezing works.

His rugby days with
those other young men
never came again.

* White feathers were symbols of cowardice sent to young men
not fighting during WW I and WW II.

Originally posted 9 February 2016.

War Effort