Thursday, 30 April 2009

Yearby yearning

In the mirror I see a reflection in the glass
Looking growing yearby yearning
Time goes by

Time passing yearby year
Flowers slowly
Life suddenly

In the mirror
I see a reflection in the glass

Getting sad and old
Life slowly gone
Time passing
Suddenly tears have past

Eyes blue grey
Pale and small
Getting bluer
Going blind

My memory
Now my voice
Learning to talk + remember

Not sure I believe in angels
Maybe life could start again

Summer sun
Growing yearby
Sand rain marred seeds growing

In the mirror
I see a reflection in the glass


Pauline Eaton
Oct 2006

photo: Lois Blackburn 2006

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Marlhill manifesto

in your mind, your thoughts. An
expression of what you see - stand observe
voices express paper
An outlet for a reflection of your
mind’s eye. A reflection of what you feel
It could It should It
should be enjoyment - enjoyment yes when
you can a purpose in what you do
It’s true reflection of what you see, reflection of what you
it should give pleasure, it should be a pleasure. A reflection,
a relaxation, complicated or automatic
voices express paper
There’s no right or wrong. Six
people would draw it different. We all see colours different,
we all see shapes representation
You are the you that’s seeing your version, your self
a child sees a house is a square
box, children Wildflowers
the countryside, the hedgerows, the berries
If you can’t see it now it is what you would like to see
You can touch what you picture in your mind as
What power we had has gone to remembering what was, a
reflection picture in your mind – art is what
I do
Touch everything

Drawing is a gift from memory
you can see or not

use what you’ve got and make use of it
colours and shape, the sound of
music produced by these colours. Expression the greatest
compliment, music produced by colours
Have you tried footprints in the sand? Footprints
compressing the grass?
Energy in the world

Marlhill Court, Sheltered Accommodation
Oct 2006

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

a nearly man

I don't look in the mirror
only when I can't avoid it
when I shave

when I was younger
when I used to go to the dancing
bryllcreme on my hair
I had hair then
Old Spice
dab on

thats what we used to do
get ponced up
my features

I've always been a nearly man
an ordinary Joe
a nearly this
a nearly that
I used to think I was

good at my job
I was a gardener-painter
a nearly man
ordinary Joe
in the street
I'm leaving

certain things
certain things denied
in your life
you don't tell
when you wake up at night
you go back

you go back to the war
to the POW camp
when the daylight's
not broken
go back years

waiting to sleep again
your wife snoring
next the marches
the POW camps
being captured
the treatment

yesterday gone
tomorrow's out of sight
the next day does not come
time's your own ambition
you are free
not tied to

your life
certain things
you don't tell
a nearly man ordinary Joe

Harry Wantling
October 2006

time disappears when you're in hospital

time disappears when you're in hospital
nights are very long
days are just as

people seem to think I need to be entertained
I’m happy reading

among my friends of recent years
humorous stories and jokes

memories you create for future generations
remembered as jocular
things you do with your grandchildren
they will say

I remember
Granddad remembering

do an awful

when friends die
certain instances trigger good/sad
life goes on
days are very long
nights are just as

forget awhile
then something happens remember

death brings

24th Nov 2006

simple questions

always a good memory

something more
losing your parents
your wife
that you never forget

going to school
going to communion
playing football
nothing really
simple questions

certain things
earliest un-forgotten
in the front room
in my mum's arms

simple when you know the
remember them today
forget tomorrow's memory

24th Nov 06

Monday, 27 April 2009

The Boredom

the b o r e d o m
the nothing-to-do nothing-
there’s nothing real

27th October 2006

make me feel

make me feel
old-fashioned photos
my mother’s age
my ways changed
pulled-in waists
grandfather wore his
chain, drawing, photos
from my mother
make me feel
good old-fashioned

Hilda Barker
20 October 2006

Friday, 24 April 2009

Pills by the bucketful

day by day
the red plague
hope the next will be a little bit better
had so long
a great thing when you can jump out of
the body


fight against time
it will come nevertheless
can't move like I used to
must be something stopping me
cant do anything else
hope and pray for a cure
heat or cold
or drugs or whatever
tormenting irritation
can apply
pass the parcel of things

headline: mind can conquer body
make the most of what
little we’ve got
know we’re not going to improve
an acre of barren land
go on day by day
best to think about other things
yellow sand
and hope for
pills by the bucketful

no end
no end to it
yellow red curse
feel it burn and hurt
changes each time time's tempest
makes you depressed
have to block out
brick it out
burn down
the prison

5th Dec 2009

golden lads and girls

they look like me
they look like me
but aren't
like me

a different youth

look like me child
of flesh but
of brain
they know
a lot
of things these days

May Ferris
29 Sept 06

One Good Friday

awful to go
got the call
quarter to three
sister said come
said very sorry
such a shiver
oh no he’s
gone broke my

h e a r t

couldn’t help
still want
them back after
his good
they stick in

Vera Stevens
20 October 2006


do you not believe in god well what do you
believe I believe in strong faith how do you
the earth was made if not by god apart it was a
secret god died on the cross having a strong faith
is one of the things that gives a long life definitely
most definitely with out him you are no good
its time you believed im
turning the table because theres only him to turn
to he died on the cross for us + was buried in 3
days + came to life again for re------------surrection
imagine an image
an image i dont know but why i do believe
you have troubles you go to him
what he looks like nobody knows you can tell god
hes the one with his hat on
from this day forward
your life will be better better i believe it are people

in gods image

some arent + some are find the devilsome to live a
good life to live up to what people need heaven + earth definitely you will go to heaven to live permanently so you better

heavens a wonderful place its allovertheworld
definitely most definitely i do i believe in the
resurrection we will meet the persons who have
gone before what else is there theres
nothing else
never think about hell just the other everyones
forgiven thats the order of the day (some criminals
go to hell go to hell) i don’t think heaven ages
people I suppose gods over it gods over it theres
nothing else
im happy quite

Nora Brumham
29 Sept 06

Photo © Lois Blackburn 2006

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Thee thy summer

21 pills day
make sweet make sweet thy beauty
parkinson’s you see
started out with vertigo
dizzy all the while
fell four times
smashed my face
started parkinsons’s

day before the operation
I could walk
now I can’t
make sweet make sweet thy beauty
be not self-willed
cant balance
cant walk
thee thy

tablets yknow calm you down
sorry mrs jones you’ve got parkinson’s
shock shock
tablets make sweet
7 in the morning 3 dinnertime
7 t night
one and water one and water
mdp for parkinson’s
choke little
little tube
be not self-willed
pink and blue
thee thy summer

choke bit
shake bit
sometimes in the morning
everything whizzing round
vertigo started in
started out with vertigo
parkinson’s you see
thy beauty make sweet make sweet

Doreen Jones
17th October 2008


my father said it when I was 17
never grow old
your life changes it’s difficult to cope
puts you wise
when you are talking about the past
you are talking 93 years ago
when I was busy playing
mine was a grandmother
a fairy grandmother
a high ruffle
a navy skirt touched her foot
a brooch
the other a witch
frightened me to death
hook nose
plaits over her ears
one was a storybook
a great granny 93 beautiful
straight backed white haired
walked up to 92
long black bonnet
straight high-back chair

a big family lived to a ripe age
they looked fair refreshing
(take a mental note: enjoy
the weather)
guided proud old English farmers
I am a grand
a great-grandparent
couldn’t quote the children

grandchildren close but
we can talk anything on a level
they’re my equal and we talk and
right let’s go outside grandma and have a fag
get older
it comes whether you like it or not
a terrible waiting

a long time a long time ended
being here
I’m accepting it
I’m not safe
something frantic
an angry tone
a chain round my neck
I’m getting weary
today is not a fair measure
an impossibility physically
educationally beautifully poetically
a complex question
I feel happy disgruntled annoyed
today I feel

Collaborative Poem
8 December 2006

cogito ergo sum

We’ve got all the time in the world
So I’m a living being
Cogito ergo sum

My brain’s ticking over
Time to say sorry for Henry or Henri
Cogito ergo sum

Bones of a Roman mystery
Time to say sorry for Henry or Henri
We’ve got all the time in the world

Cogito ergo sum
So I’m a living being
My brain’s ticking over

We’ve got all the time in the world
Bones of a Roman mystery
Cogito ergo sum

There’s still time
So I’m a living being
Cogito ergo sum

1st Dec 2006

Burnt Umber

I started painting when I was 7, 8 years old
it takes time
it takes patience

read Francis Bacon
read the French painters
they have one answer
read the Dutch painters
they have another answer

I notice recently that my mind is retreating

Greece has a wide deep Religious Tradition
Greek Icons
being a youngster
keen to put my nose into many things
we’re talking 1928/35
Greek Christian Monk
descended from ‘Metora’
old man
living in a barn
I looking for adventure
he contacted me
“Burnt Umber, Burnt Umber.”

he showed me how to paint
an iconographer
used to sell icons to the Greek Church
painted alongside him
“Burnt Umber”
everything cut and dry
rules rules

then you come to Francis B
Graham Sutherland
they carry on those traditions
being drawn backwards
the Greek traditions

anytime I speak Greek now
they say
“You are a foreigner
with a damn good Greek accent!”

being a painter
a tough job

I met Lowry in the street
had a chat
said I wanted to buy a painting
I never did

Mr Constantine Steriopulos
8th Dec 2006

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

elderly people's concern

didn’t realise I was getting old
till some people put me in an Old Peoples home
elderly people's concernover the door
I thought I was doing all right
thought I was a good boy
a decent chap
surprised me that they thought of me
like that
thought of myself as a youngish chap
I was miles out

born 1924, 29th August 1924
now it feels pretty old
not that bad
not that bad looking
not doing so bad
(lots of things you cant do
was in a very skilled job etc.)
become older by nature

Raymond Weaver
8th Dec 2006

all infection this sun sucks up

Had we but world enough and time it's the
End of the line for our favourite party
The jaws that bite the claws that catch
Long of face but short of patience
Hand in hand by the edge of the sand
Harboured in this parched city

Hairs be wires, wires be on her head
Essential maintenance to the dead
This anger lady is no crime
You’d rather be stealing breath than
Saying Amen to all men

Theresa Daulby

Theresa Daulby
1st December 2006

Tuesday, 21 April 2009


Theresa Daulby
printed type, glue, paper, pencil

Concrete poems use the visual presentation of words to add to their meaning. Theresa Daulby’s maiden name was Greenwood and so the poetic meditation on herself as a child is given the shape of a sapling.

mouth chin smile

Pauline Eaton
pencil drawing/concrete poem


Mary Whelan
pencil drawing

Using combinations of word and image is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. In the 20th Century, avant garde poets Apollinaire, the de Campos brothers, Bob Cobbing and Ian Hamilton Finlay used word/image collisions to find new freedom.

Plain wears a wedding dress

tracing paper, pen

Feeling more myself

Edith Joyce
tracing paper, pen

I wonder

Edith Joyce
tracing paper, pen

Concrete poems combine word and image, they use the visual presentation of words to add to their meaning.

Stuffed cabbage

a speciality
attractive taste hungry
Hungary/stuffed cabbage

(I remember something bad happened to me)

makes you hungry directly
take separate leaves
powerful smell
hot water filled with green and onion
close and cook
good for the taste
everytime you warm it up it's better
in the oven
a tomato sauerkraut
filled with rice and onion
pickled cabbage
special way of rolling
cook together
cook it with
happy recipes
for generations
make lots of
a bit of you
big dish earthenware
a happy thing to do
pickle cabbage
very good Hungarians at cooking

(I was there in that camp)

a gourd
fill it
right away
food for a long time
smell it ahead
food that lasted
this food is very good
a long term food
sauerkraut that extra
also tomatoes
and baking
warm people's heart
with the taste in the mouth
the expectation

January 2008


father’s family
from Romania
had to escape
mother’s family
from Europe

had to escape her name
was Kaufman
ancestors to England
matter of luck
life: a matter of luck

father’s name was Silverman
had to escape a
matter of luck
I was one of the lucky
not in an area where Jews were


had to escape
father’s family Silverman
from Romania
mother’s family Kaufman and

I was one
of the lucky


Gloria Ordman
25th January 2007

In between times

a small back yard
where there was a mangle
where my mother did the washing
that opened onto the entry
we were the first house in the avenue
must’ve been a secure door
a sort of room on the first landing
used when started school for homework
and if we wanted to read or be on our own
called it our study
lot of the books kept there
mother was a great reader
must’ve been very happy to be there
two sisters who were very conscious about doing their homework
I used to sit and draw
sit and draw
talk in between times and ask for help
they used to fight a lot I was known as mediator
liked being up there
could run down to the kitchen
weren’t stuck up there
could do what you liked
didn’t have to do all your homework there
a place you could read
read a lot of books my mother got from the library
read Lady Chatterley’s Lover before she did
window looked across the entry
could call across to our cousins
are you going for a walk?
the house looked across to our cousins’ home and we called across to them

Myra Ellis
26 Oct 07


I haven’t much of a history
And I don’t know much about the future either

January 2008

Monday, 20 April 2009

a Blue Star Line journey

all my family South America
I was left
my two daughters six and nine
I go by boat
by boat to my family
Buenos Aires three weeks
these Blue Star steamers
three weeks over
a nursery onboard
the hooter of the steamer
a terrible noise all rushed out
the children flew

a stormy sitting room
the grand piano roll
save your kids run over
by a grand piano rolling
save the children

Susie: a Blue Star Line journey

Above clouds

so many arrivals
just after the war it snowed without stopping
I’d been in the WAAF
the doctor Pity you can’t go to Switzerland
after the war
travelled by myself with1 suitcase
the view snowclad
the icicles dropping from the pine trees
my suitcase on a sledge
we walked behind the cable car scenery:
the Dome de Midi

up above clouds sky was blue

to this day I can draw the outline
dripping from the pinecones
when the war ended
above the clouds
the sky was if I remember blue
the air was clear
then snowed without stop
thick and white
everyone on skis even the doctors
everyone going
up above the clouds
saw the clouds below

Myra Ellis : an arrival, Switzerland

when I eat celery

childhood memories/memories of childhood
a happy home a very happy home
a small park
a tennis court and a bowling green
my father had a square racquet
he cut half the handle off
whacking that tennis ball:
I was only eight
I can go right back
to my first day at school, terrified
my first day I was terrified of course
20 kids with coloured chalks
the smell of chalks in the room
my first day; terror and success
later on: making
animals tigers dogs elephants
God must have guided my hand
I didn’t know I had any talent in that direction
but God must have been guiding my hand
the teacher rapped me she didn’t believe that I’d done it
I cried at the injustice
first day at school crying: my first day
I was a plump child
the girl stuck a pin in me to see if I would burst
I remember when I eat celery
coming home from dancing
home from dancing to a tea of celery
the smell, the taste of celery
a proper tea from home
jams and smells
jams and always cooking

Germany: my father
at 6 o clock in the garden
a lovely garden, fruits and everything
on Shabbas we’d go to the shul for a
wonderful childhood
when the nazis came it was all destroyed
smashed our home
threw everything in the street
we went into the fields when they came
my mother said we are alive it does not matter
we had to get out
we had to get out
to survive
incomplete living
dependent on the day
it wasn’t memory it was my life
changed continents, changed schools
going to school a stranger
a day to day basis new experience
everybody has his or her own experience
I wasn’t the only one

always a governess
if we didn’t like them we had to get rid
my mother very kind, very strict
lots of rules: rules in the home
my father every morning a pony and trap
my father working in the small flower garden
he went every morning by horse
to see the workers
see the wheat fields with the red flowers

my wife and I came as refugees
the only way to get a permit was to work: domestic work
my knowledge of English was limited
my wife a cook to prepare the meals

a huge dining room, a huge lounge
madam goes to the dentist today, she won’t have any lunch
I knocked the gong and nothing was there for her
my wife misunderstood
I rang the gong again
my introduction to England

well I have a few memories
I suppose the most powerful is
my head against the wall where my parents slept
my father had come home and
there was a terrible noise and father had died
I was six

a powerful memory
I remember the garden more than the house
sit and read: a London garden
we had a plum tree
alternate years plums
other years a sticky gum on its bark
grapes in the garden a small summer house
in a London garden
in sight of the zoo you could see polar bears
animals tigers dogs elephants
God must have guided my hand
the wheat fields with the red flowers
my father working in the small flower garden
my father at 6 o clock in the garden
domestic work
childhood memories/memories of childhood
a happy home a very happy home
the smell, the taste of celery
each time we speak we remember something else

Collaborative Poem: Morris Feinmann Home

stormy sea

to Germany where I had relatives cautionary words not to talk to anyone mustn’t
speak to anyone on that journey stormy sea arrived to a wreckage in the harbour
arrived too late for the Rheingold Express
early hours three or four small trains
in the black forest

Fortheim artificial jewellery there I saw my uncle for the first time with a nightcap on
my uncle sitting up in bed with a nightcap 1933 how pleased I was

Journey from England to Germany March 1933
by eighteen-year-old Mary Zefferett
(there are a lot of us about but very few with double t)

Morris Feinmann Home

Mary arrival

the kibbutz the homes people had made
more profoundly than anywhere else
this was still the time of displaced persons
I remember the kibbutz
the homes people had made
I remember so

it was the orange blossom
wonderful smell of orange blossom
the homes people had made
more profoundly I had tears
it was this orange blossom
dominating I remember
smell of orange blossom

Welcome to Israel

Mary Goldberg: an arrival, Israel
Morris Feinmann Home,

pictures speak louder

this is the story of my life
to cut a long story short
Hitler was organising Mein Kampf
Communism collapse
my grand people bombed
Hitler financed by the wealthy
the Russian revolution
Hitler used my parents from Poland
my father
my father
a marvellous caring wonderful woodworker
an artist born in wood
I was born in Hull
what happened was
after the war organised a return
Lodz a death camp people
simply thrown in
pictures speak louder

nothing left
all my grandparents
burnt nothing left
my father very skilled marvellous hands
wood must come to life
demanded in cathedrals
that he had a pony + trap
travelled all over
to this day when I still see old shafts pointing in the air
it brings my father
an old stone cottage a stable
intelligent pony he’d stamp until we fed him
my childhood memory
his hooves struck sparks

Louis Marx
from Poland with a pony: a journey

photo: Lois Blackburn 2008

marching to the song

my father came from the courts
said the law no longer exists
I spent the afternoon I remember
him putting a little ornament ashtray
I remember
three times in my suitcase
along the platform groups of families
on the journey a playful time
Nazi’s were
marching to the song

if the Jewish blood …
much more waiting to say
I remember my parents waving and the sandwiches
my mother had so carefully prepared
waved in her hand
April acrid spring in the air
the tune Maotzur
the hatred in the air

HM Goldberg: a journey Berlin/England
Morris Feinmann Home,

HM Goldberg: an arrival

Beauty: we were greeted on the balcony
I couldn’t sleep for Beauty
outside the moonlit hills
the Mediterranean sea
I see it again in the plasticity of the earth
exaggerated moonshine
I drank it in after

after that I could not sleep
I didn’t expect
Amalfi ache
I didn’t expect: Beauty
try to respond and
take it in of that moment
the plasticity of the earth

could not respond
it made you ache
to respond and couldn’t quite
I couldn’t sleep
I couldn’t leave
sheer Beauty you
in the morning

moonshine’s gone
I see it again
the plasticity of the earth
I didn’t expect
moonlit landscape
I drank it

HM Goldberg

a journey

if you want a journey it began in Vienna a suitcase it was a train a journey we
had to take we had to get out Germany what was Germany then we were dragged
to get out my father had been in jail a normal train I should imagine twelve or
thirteen at the time it was quite normal I was quite well behaved being dragged to
be out we had to get out because we were Jews
we had to be out because
we were Jews I understood as a child I had been for journeys before for holidays
this was one we had to take to survive scared possibly probably
it didn’t matter as long as we got out my father had been in jail because
we were Jews Harwich I remember nothing
we got off in Harwich

Bruno Langsam: a journey
Morris Feinmann Home

an arrival

childhood memories memories of childhood
holidays Italy Hungary
Italy Hungary Poland for holidays an experience
incomplete living going to school
itself a rather ordered life
the routine to school my homework holidays
we visited places
born in Vienna
changed continents changed schools
at the time it must have been… I wasn’t the only one
you’ve got to learn to take it
they need to

everybody has his or her own experience
we had to get out we had to get out
I hadn’t been to England before
new experiences going to school as a complete
dependent on the day you had to survive
I wasn’t the only one
it wasn’t memory
it was my life

Bruno Langsam
Morris Feinmann Home

Gold ring

And there was a stop

because we were
between Germany
and Holland
the SS opened my case



bought me a
gold ring with a
black stone
they took it
off my finger

A train journey

Photo © Lois Blackburn 2009

a train journey Germany /1938

leaving Germany
fleetingly a relief
my father had been
in and out of jail
I have to put myself back
food matters more than
I project myself backward
train journeys
but these were
d i f f e r e n t circumstances
past holidays
here we were escaping
he was with us
that was relief
in itself
not homesick
the reverse
time projecting
my father in and out of jail
tension leaving me
we were leaving
the b o r d e r
a railway carriage


Photo: Lois Blackburn 2009

a train journey Buchenwald /1938

where the train stopped
I don’t know if it was a counter or it was train station or what


everybody had to get out quickly
yknow raus raus and er and er and then had to pass this row of


guards and they just hit out
blindly at anything that moved so er and then er we we arrived in the


they made us sit
on the parade ground and uh they gave us a sort of fish soup to eat it was pretty horrible

but that uh that

was laced with a
strong purgative but we weren’t allowed to move from the parade ground so you can


what happened so
then er yknow eventually we were detained to our hut where we were supposed to live

after a fashion on

on wooden shelves
managed to get cleaned up a bit and er that was it they didn’t actually do
anything to us

I mean I remember the first night
the SS came in with dogs and the dogs went for anything that moved

and er yknow

if the dogs selected somebody
he was taken out and beaten up it wasn’t very pleasant

I mean

the first the first two or three nights
were really horrible then after that things settled down of course we

were all starving

but er they didn’t
do anything to us

after that some

some people
actually went onto the electric wire threw themselves on the electric wire


Sunday, 19 April 2009

Stuffed aubergine

cooked in a cookery class
cooking all together
nearly cut my finger off
door closed against
nearly came off
stitched on

what have you cooked today?

mother used to cook Middle Eastern food
stuffed aubergine
stuffed marrows plenty of rice
bamiae, okra, ladies fingers
rice always had
boiled rice
stuffed marrows
stuffed aubergine
stuffed with rice and mince meat
mother from Egypt
father from Syria
I was born in Jamaica
mother didn’t want to come to England
always raining

what have you cooked today?

Victoria Setton
8th February 2008

Photo © Lois Blackburn 2009

Strudel greedy

pudding dessert
strudel bloated
lokshen plum
potato plump
sweet Jewish sponge
Baklava spice
rice baked in oven bloated
egg indulgent
apple pie after a meal
strudel greedy
rhubarb seductive
sticky to eat gorgeous
final part of appetizing meal
thinness of pastry completion
coconut pyramid finishing off
Passover satisfying
yellow of egg mouth watering
fine sugar tantalizing
almond macaroon moorish
egg white taste buds
meringue refreshing
don’t think about chocolate cleaner taste
tempting mouthwater
got to be dark
happy strudel

Group poem
The Morris Feinmann Home
8th February 2008


like puddings
never been a maker
never very good
fresh fruit
custard, ice cream
melon refreshing
grapefruit and orange
all fruit
nothing I don’t like
heavy meals
got through all our courses
no room for pudding
rice pudding only after milk/meat meal
fresh fruit platter
make it look beautiful
centre of grapes, surrounded with banana
big meals
only wanted fresh fruit
whatever fruit I had
attractive platter
take all the inside out
dice it up, mix with cream
put back
only eat with milk/meat dish
flans easy
decorated with cream
so much younger, these things easy
with milk dishes
biscuits, finger biscuits, plain arrowroot biscuits
build up to pyramid
layer it that way
cream, melt chocolate
pour out
cut into slices
absolutely delicious
fruit flan
plain flan case
sponge mixture
fruit, jelly fruit and jelly
looked nice on table
good heavens when I think
saliva building up
know I shouldn’t afterwards
improvise a lot
something different
not things learnt from mother
she made stogy things
make a lot out of nothing
didn’t have money to throw around
stick them in chocolate
stand them on plates
one plate whipped cream, thick cream
one with with coconut
one with grated chocolate
marshmallow socked in cream
melt in your mouth
could just eat them now
melt in your mouth

Nita Holdari
8th February 2008

Photo © Lois Blackburn 2008


and cheese and breads
cocktails fruity style with

vodka and sherry punch
arranged flowers nicely

everything ready to go
evening wear and beach wear.

Peggy/Pat Rowe
1st February 2008

Saturday, 18 April 2009

today is nothing

a deep-sea diver
very dangerous job
today is nothing

big helmet
very heavy
very lucky
a deep-sea diver

lucky to be alive
not like it is today
today is nothing

Leon Pauls
5 September 2008


Mother played the piano
not a marvellous voice but I loved to sing
Ivor Novello and a song called Trees
ivory notes and black made a pattern
upright piano, fancy things, candle holders at each side
two sisters and myself
stood around her and tried to sing

wish I could see it

the rehearsal in Covent Garden, the orchestra in short sleeves
can’t see anything
but I can listen
the sound is low
then bursts out with drums
I picture the conductor
I can always picture the conductor.

Myra Ellis
5 September 2008

Photo © Lois Blackburn 2008


ought we pay less attention to the things that separate us
and pay more attention to the things we have in common

has any person any right to any part of the world

in a tribal society
- and all of us come from a tribal society -
do you think that aggression and dislike of the stranger was necessary
to survive

do you think this wholescale evil that nazism proved to be has

packed them up in cattletrucks
starved them poisoned them
and killed them in the most horrible way

I don’t think that happened before

people are substantially the same
and culture is only a local expression

rather cruel blonde men and rather substantial blonde women

history is always us
history is always what an historian puts into it

this was a feeling of utter destruction
you realise you have lost your home, your nation

it was worse than saying goodbye to my parents
gone forever not to come back

Group at Morris Feinmann Home
6 Nov 08

never to be forgotten

go through hell
its not hearsay
we’re all dying
look, I am 88 I have a pacemaker
I’ve had a stroke
the trains leading to Auschwitz
my parents
there are over 60 million who died
I have a duty to talk
there’s a lot of people who want to forget
but this is me for the rest of my life
this is me morning noon and night
the wounds are too great
this story
it’s not a story
not fiction

I come from Berlin
I won’t set foot on German soil
left on 16 April 1939
said goodbye to parents and family
never to see them again
went from Bahnhof Zoo
put on the train to Ostend

I was pulled out of the train
because I had a big J on my passport
at the border I was stripped and I thought
England or concentration camp?
I was taken by one of these nazi officers
and stripped
I was 18 years old
I was a very protected child

because of Kristallnacht
my father realised there was no future for Jewish people
he was pensioned off for being Jewish
it got worse
no radio
no telephone
you couldn’t go out
I was 18 years old
you couldn’t go out dancing

the first two or three years I thought in German
now I think in English

Susie Linton
6 November 2008

Land Girl Song

Land Girl (Timber Corps) we

wore britches and green pullovers
wellingtons and woolly stockings
landlady made the loveliest Cornish pasties
stationed in Rickmansworth
had our first freedom from home
from old-fashioned parents
seventeen – it was early days

who the hell wants to hear the same story
fifty times?
we’re too old to learn new stories

cut down by hand
didn’t have anything electric
bobbed the branches off
came down to London to find boyfriends
didn’t give a damn about the air-raids

why should I remember?

the bombs coming down I can remember
lost our house on Clyde Road
this blooming bomb
parents came out faces blackened
we had no clothes left
bombs didn’t give you time to pack
air-raid wardens with dimmed lights
Clyde Road
was full of Jewish people
parents coming down the road eating bizzers
sitting on the front steps eating melon seeds
we had a German Jew refugee staying
he was glad to be amongst Jewish people
young man
the nazis
my father used to swear at them in Arabic

can you speak Arabic?

the old words
the odd words I remember:
a song about trees.

Evelyn Hazan, Victoria Setton, Nancy Davis
5 September 2008

a conversation about trains

a little bit of history
never forget
the cattle truck

on his nineteenth birthday
my husband was sent out of Germany
his father sent him
his birthday, April 1933
the first year of the nazis
how those laws became harsher

(got his family out
father imprisoned Kristallnacht 1938
but that comes later)

33 the police were not allowed
to investigate crimes against Jews
I was born Berlin 1920
my parents perished in Auschwitz

(you’re too young, you don’t remember
not to buy goods from Jews
kosher slaughters banned
SA men standing in the door)

forever marching
before it’s too late, get them out
Kindertransport, Department of Racial Hygiene
people did not realise it was a matter of life
and death’ll blow over
1934 smoothed over for me
1935 remove human rights for Jews
it was badly reported

I was a funny little girl, liked adult conversation
I remember strange things
two people getting married because one had a permit
there was a war looming
forever marching
the storm troopers

exiled from school because I was Jewish
expelled from school because I was Jewish
of those not-pure
of the less-than-people
at school, just the Jewish children
the teacher who did the measuring
said it was necessary
I hated it, the measuring

the seeds:
never forget
the cattle truck

internment camps and work camps
the heart had shrunk
when you starve people to that degree
the heart will shrink
sun snow storm
greyish blue army in the snow

prejudice first
then the science to do it
the study of a person’s character
by the shape of the head
some people would say
every era is an era of pseudo-science
take you to ?
where the Jews were separated
either to Auschwitz, or ?
my parents to ?

(my father was a very wise man
we went to Holland)

we all come from tribes
the fact that we are here means that we come from
a successful tribe
very successful, made a lot of money
didn’t marry and intermingle
people you mark as

(ah but we are all children of Abraham)

to Hitler
people started to get rounded up
this one’s gone, this one’s gone

ask yourself: why are we here?
because we have evolved

(why do armies behave as they do - forever marching?)

the fact that we are here means that we come from
a successful tribe
this is one step of evolution
now what is the next?
I remember – I hated it
that I was being measured

why did I survive and they didn’t
why did I survive and others couldn’t
a wound that will never heal

every era is an era of pseudo-science
to understand how people can do terrible things
in the 1920s no money, afraid
a uniform had a huge amount of power
his hatred
did not become a passion until later
he was a loser and this is why
this badness

wasn’t good for anything
recovering from gas in a hospital when he hears of
the stab in the back
Mein Kampf in prison
writing in isolation:
in Germany I think the hatred of Jews is in-born
I’ve had it
callipers were used
a map of the head
phrenology, character and race
March 1941: Jews forbidden to leave
the final decision has been made
storm troopers
my brother didn’t want to join the last transport

it was shouted at him who killed Christ?
a little bit of history
lately as my life goes to the end
I think about it

Group poem
Morris Feinmann Home
28th November 2008

Friday, 17 April 2009


and years ago
the main thing in Jewish households
was to put food on the table
Friday night
always had a special meal
to show a difference
with the Jewish it’s Friday Saturday
the main ones
humans we all live together
but keep tradition
so we don't lose identity
we've got to light the candles

special bread
two loaves plaited for Friday evening and Saturday
big buns the shape of a hat without a brim
orthodox Jewish
people doing their shop on a
Thursday all fresh
so the Sabbath comes in
early on a Friday
so we are always prepared
food placed in an oven

dozens of recipes
whatever fancy strikes
every holiday
one day when you don't eat
long day
Yom Kippur
started with the day ended night
Yom means day
in the evening a good meal
a symbol
the honey the apple
a sweet new year
the horn blown for the new year
get rid of your sins
fast and concentrate on your readings
the most feast is Purim they saved a synagogue from burning
fancy-dress happy occasion
in the war there was shortage

a big casserole
beans white beans
I always knew what was Jewish
there are so many things you can't do
matzo soup unleavened bread
flour and water sun-dried
a water biscuit
The Passover
with Evening Prayer describe the whole way the Jews escaped
from Egypt
two nights
at the side kuchen a sweet bread
Friday night we would make the effort

fish and chicken the mortar the bricks when they built the wall
a little bit with your bagel
salt water
I speak so many languages it doesn't come easily

herbs to remind of a different time
lean on the cushions this way and that way
white lilies white
candle lighting is very important in every way
I grew up knowing
I was Jewish

Agneta Levi, Gloria Ordman, Nita Hodari, Olga Sandler, Myra Ellis


the green is
full of hope

it makes you

Agneta Levi
December 2007

Paracetemol soup

(what’s wrong with it?) can’t do without
the most important place
(love when I think of home)
love it’s true I daren’t say it
the bank writing me love letters
security, savings, minus, plus
my dad singing over the rainbow
throwing coins in the air
my brother is bent double with arthritis
I am an expert in pain disabled incurable
backache we’ve all got it why haven’t you?
you’ve got to drink gallons and gallons of
paracetemol soup
we’ve all got it like income tax
there’s no escape
bloody hell, miracles

Louis Marks, Margot Blake, Gloria Ordman
October 2007

Photo © Lois Blackburn 2008


watching your children
their faces when you’ve prepared food
palefaced children
queuing to go down into the shelter

Peggy Conrad
February 2008


; the touch of the collar of my mother’s dress
my favourite toy was my doll pushed
in my pram
on a little train to visit my grandfather; a fenced
garden with a cherry tree, a chestnut and chickens
I will never forget; what will I never forget?
I will never forget the day war broke; a spring-like day
it was momentous indeed
the children I played with in the garden;
first day at school; the school was very grand
make many .:.. ::.: . ..: . ;

my favourite toy; little celluloid doll; make dresses for
a childhood journey; remember and go back
I grew up with the nazis; you never forget that
I will never forget; it’s gone. It may come back
it’s the first thing that goes; names.
I lose words memory
some happy; this morning
I wanted to find the word orchid
the word came to me like a

things that happened but don’t ask me what;
my favourite childhood toy; I used to play with
a childhood journey; a jewish camp
it was exciting because we were never allowed out; the smells of
the forest were

I will never forget my grandfather, he was a farmer;
travel with his horse and trap along the countryside
a Jewish school for girls; I was
happy there, the festivals, friends ice-skating;
the smells of cooking
from the cafeteria
my favourite toy doll a Chanukah present
I was a modest child; I loved the toy
sleeping in her

childhood journey; a car, it was very
I will try never to forget
I remember the nazis; you never forget
my mother taking me to school; round the corner an avenue
it’s very difficult; so long ago
what do I sense?
my favourite toy;
a childhood journey;;;; the vibration of the carriage
I will never forget trips in memory
all the smells
seaweed / puddings
I remember a journey
with my parents
in the Winter;
it was very dark
we had difficulty to see our way

(in the snow)


; hypnotised

Margot Blake, Jane Hyman, Agneta Levi, Joan Behrens, Olga Sandler, Myra Ellis
18th October 2007


I remember the young
children coming off the
train with labels


an impressionable age
young ones with badges for
people to claim

come with
little tags on
like baggage

Nita Holdari
November 2007

Photo Nita Holdari © Lois Blackburn 2009

Look forward

The best part
remember the taste
years before

Usually sweet
especially for those
who have a sweet-tooth

Look inwards
make life interesting
love Jewish food

Cooked on Friday
kept warm

Lots of things
forbidden forbidden
to make light

Agneta Levi
November 2007

King Cotton's Table

1875 father came
follow the cotton
Sephardi merchant
met mother here where
King Cotton reigned
been deposed since
Manchester melting pot
Turkish and Syrian
clothe the working class
a great empire the cotton trade
Manchester Royal Exchange
Tuesdays and Fridays
within spitting distance
me in the warehouse
playing amongst the cotton
window facing the canal

father went to Synagogue
people back
for Saturday meal
10 around the table
any passing merchant
table was laden
good cheap wholesome food
don’t mix meat and milk
bloody easy to be observant
with cheap labour behind you

one Irish cook one Irish nurse
dietry rules
meat in one kitchen
milk in another
10 bob for two of them
nothing to be proud of
Middle Easten dishes
good old joint of roast beef
father thought it had no taste

Aslan Hamwee
Februrary 2008

It was always meals, love

it was always meals love
was a little girl thin
it might’ve been cos she was such a good cook she showed her love
protective shopping and cooking
I’d queue for potatoes the war was on
she’d make soups
chicken vegetable to fill you up satisfied
she worked hard
one of the most important things to have
is a good mother caring protective loving
lentil soup thick fogs
came home by bus
couldn’t see your hand
got home dropping with hunger
brown lentil soup
wonderful grateful freezing how many miles
walked thick fog peasouper glad to be home
never forgotten
never never never
she was an angel

Gloria Ordman
October 2007


When I was a child
I longed for a bicycle
when I was a child I was happy
because I had a wonderful mother
her face was very beautiful
when I was a child
came to sing me to sleep
my father
singing me to sleep in
his german uniform, singing
the Kaiser is a liebe man

believing not a bit
when I was a child it was wartime
and my earliest childhood
memory was listening
to my father
and I want to sing again
when I was a child
my mum thought
it would be dangerous for me
to ride a bicycle
so my dad brought me a pony instead
when I was a child
I used to save sixpences
my father was a gambler
always short of money
always immaculate
as they had no furniture he hung his suits
on the wall
when I was a child it was wartime
my little brother was born
and I had never tasted icecream
(mother had a wicked sense of humour, said:
blow on it, it is very hot)
when I was a child
I knew I was growing older because
I had to start wearing long trousers
longing for the day when my feet
would hit the floor of the tram.

Louis Marx, Margot Blake, Gloria Ordman
October 2007

Thursday, 16 April 2009


intrinsically Gypsies
Jews move
an affinity towards languages

the world's similarities between
Spanish, French, German
Yiddish Yidish Idish

a mixture of
all the languages
all over the

of the Jewish

Louis Marx
April 2008

Photo Louis Marx © Lois Blackburn 2009


Father wasn’t
in cooking

in eating
but that was that

Pat Rowe
January 2008

Photo Pat Rowe © Lois Blackburn 2009

The season to go

expectation: your mouth is preparing
when you look back you understand

Agneta Levi
February 2008


we often had food at the end of evening
dozens of recipes
after talking solidly
just whatever fancy
very talkative family
that would come foremost
because it interested all parts

(I’m looking for the weather before it gets dark
I’m frightened of the dark)

it depended on our mood it could be hilarious
it depended whatever takes their
fancy (died in this season)
violins and pipes homemade
a soprano very small
we played passionate
(it’s not bravery it’s cowardice)
tea coffee sweets food in the evening
the end of evening

(it is coming)

Olga Sandler
November 2007

Desert after

dessert after
the bitterness / stays at the end

strudel noodle
when I think of the little
lokshen puddings
Jewish girls and boys
kugel blintzes
rice pudding baklava
I still have that picture in my mind
bunt kuchen
coconut almond
macaroon meringue
that picture will never fade

some gathering greedy
the final part / I daren’t think about it dessert after
the bitterness / stays at the end

Group Poem
February 2008

Buzz Bomb

buzz bomb

V1 surrounded by thugs

low flying bombs quite effective RAF defenses terrible
rose to dizzy rank of captain
army rations extraordinarily good
on campsite in charge of rations eat the meat and glad of it

seeing England whipping up a crowd of emotion
lose cousins to torpedo bombs
moral obligation to stop .
a tolerant people
harmony with neighbours
starve the British into submission U boats

1 egg a month for the baby

boats going down
Coventry obliterated wiped Dresden off the map
diabolical paying for it now
a lot to answer for
civilised people we are
Hitler started a dreadful business
raids of
rounding up of

last days

Aslan Hamwee
February 2008


paracetemol soup:
a Jewish cookbook, written in memory. Poems from a limited edition book of recollection and recipes made in collaboration with older Jewish people, including holocaust survivors.

an eating apple
pippin bramley
pick it and eat boxes and boxes of
coxes recipes granny
two lovely eating apple trees
golden over a hundred
delicious recipes for
gala braeburn a nice apple
russet cake
Worcester mix for
pippins red chop


delicious autumn put into the
ripe old oven until
home the cake mixture
friends firm but
the apple is still quite moist
oh apple cake conjures up
putting on weight
nearly all I made
I made with apples
my own

Myra Ellis 2008

Photo Myra Ellis © Lois Blackburn 2009


in here about four weeks
terrible state I was in
knees are totally useless
getting out of bed
wife standing by
she couldn’t stop me flying
had to get paramedics
help me to stand up
gentle slide to the floor
didn’t bother me
knew I’d get up one day
wife not strong enough to get me up
(amazing how strong she is)
she was calm
‘if you go down
I’m not going to get you up’
just slide
inflammation of the blood stream
into the legs
try to pump them out
put a tube down the leg
and suck on it
not painful
lack of power
most difficult getting to the toilet

and diabetes
for four days
so no sugar on my wheatabix
wheatabix without sugar kind of dead

didn’t like it at all
like my bounty bar
couldn’t have them
do a test
if it comes up plus
they tell you
‘good Lord that’s high’
nothing I can do about it

Gerald (Gerry) Manley
31st October 2008

Photo © Lois Blackburn 2008


fortnight this time
few times before
me head
very bad heads
suffered from migraines all my life
when the change came
I’m left with

take them as part of life
only you can do it
nobody else can help
take my mind of it
find something to take my mind
plenty of people worse of than me
would swap places
life’s ups and down
money doesn’t come into it
live your life to the full
say to myself people have the same problems
they get over it
have to do the same

pain I know its there
try and shut it away as much as I can
plenty worse
migraines for years
say to myself there’s another one
will go eventually

bad bump when I was a little girl
set them off
got to master it
up to you how you deal with it
walk around with a morbid face
that doesn’t help
people go around like it’s the
end of the world
that doesn’t help

when its coming on think
oh not again
nearly all my head
starts at the front goes around the back
severe pain
go on with it
not a lot you can do until it goes
dull headache
an hour
sometimes one eye goes
know one is coming
just deteriorates
then its gone
the Lord did hear me
let me have a good nights sleep

get mythered about things
get one
have to stop mythering
not to worry

pray to the Lord at night
please free me of this pain
more or less help me
grin and bare it till it went
really feel ill
no way out of it
ask Him to take me many times
but He said no you’ll get over it

determined to get there
nobodies going to stop me

Marjorie Rayner
October 2008

Photo Marjorie Rayner © Lois Blackburn 2009

No use to nothing

my heart
stood up at 10 o clock
to get a drink
stood up
next minute fell
not stuttered
just completely

damaged arm and leg
all down left side
there for 2 hours
couldn’t move
not frightened
just felt useless
remember the clock chiming

12 o clock

struggled to a chair
don’t remember much more
didn’t scare
wondered why
just stood up
completely fell

hope I get right again
feel you’ve got no use to nothing

I’m used to pain
started when I was a little girl
Rheumatic Fever
now I’ve arthritis
always get something
mother wrapped me up to much
had Scarlet Fever when I was 2
never right since

very good parents
put children first
very very determined

look around
see people far worse than yourself

worked during the war
war work
12 hour shifts
said I wasn’t strong enough to go in army
strong enough to stand for 12 hours
became an engineer
loved it we all did
a determination all the while

October 2008

Photo © Lois Blackburn 2009

We all want to get home

nothing to do
nothing doing
pass time sleeping
every few
then tea between

a friend is coming
bringing me wool
knit squares
send them

keep fingers going

at home
watch telly and so
that’s company
a lady across the road
she pops in

always peopling
can’t go home til
I can stand on my

and fro on the bus
all in
had a blackout
91 years

don’t know if I’m bettering
long passing
shared my bedroom
one brother and two sisters
winter's cold wool

keep fingers going

May Smith
October 2008

Photo May Smith © Lois Blackburn 2009

About 25 a day

13 weeks
trouble in my stomach
took part of it away apparently
out cold so I don’t know
out for 3 weeks
didn’t tell me
told my son who told me
pain in stomach
that’s why I came in
then woke up 3 weeks later
pills yeh
about 25 a day
12 or 13 in the morning
12 at night
sometimes 4 or 5 at lunchtime
take them with water or tea
one in particular bitter
the last one sweet
take them all at once
don’t hang about
just get them down
doesn’t take long
just a couple of minutes

November 2008

Photo © Lois Blackburn 2009

The ashes of youth

I don’t really understand the system
not really having anyone to talk to
the falling of leaves
when yellow
I think getting worse at being on my own
this is the vagueness of it
do hang upon those boughs
I feel I’m in the wrong place
don’t think I should be here
I suppose they want to keep an eye

I walk around and hope
on the whole I have been ambulatory
this feeling of being dependent riles
its lack of communication
in one thou seest the twilight
I’ll try to make conversation
but deaths second half
it’s the fact of being somewhere I didn’t mean to be
I’m not free
can’t just walk out
in the ashes of youth
I don’t feel as if I’m in
most of the time I forget:
I’m lingering around
consumed by that which wasn’t nourished by
I keep myself walking because if you stop you have had it
I walk the corridors the nuances
the human picture
ere long
when yellow leaves
shake against the cold

Doris Swain
17th October 2008

Photo © Lois Blackburn 2009


Emeralds by Phyllis Hollinshead (2008) from A wee star coming through, a collection of pharmaceutical products re-labelled with prescriptions for happiness.

Phyllis has transformed a packet of drugs into a little jokey work of art. Using the simple means of re-labelling she has imprinted the drugs with her own identity and with her own personal recipe for happiness: “Get in a bit of mischief.” The handwriting contrasts beautifully against the chilly minimal designs of modern drug packaging. Two more lines add a mystery to her statement- "orangey green every night/emerald tablets.” It sounds as if the tablets for mischief are made from glowing jewels. And mischief should be taken every night! The playfulness of this piece also has a serious side: by re-making her medicines in her own inimitable image, she reclaims her identity. She is not just a medical case, she is a person, with an advanced sense of mischief.

Photo © Lois Blackburn 2009

and to accept gratefully what is offered

Winifred Casemore 2008
Handwritten inscription on anatomical print, in circular badge
Photo © Lois Blackburn 2009


Many of the older people who made these poems were struggling with their pain. Others seemed to find a kind of peace, which helped them deal with it...

It’s hard at first to take painkillers
but you get used after a while
and you take them for peace sake
and it helps you to get back to your act

You’ve always been used to not having them
you’d never been poorly at all
and then you started to be ill
never missed a day in your life

Just keep trying and trying: finally you do
couldn’t swallow them quick enough
and so you become a singer and a dancer
happy as a sunboy now

Emily Thyme

Fade away nicely

my throat
very weak
my throat
can’t swallow
not allowed
drink eat
all wires
through tube
can’t take anything
so sore
feel low

you want to go to sleep the whole but can’t

can’t sleep
during day
give tablet
just to
at all

feel you want to fade away fade away nicely

Violet Gamble
November 2008

Photo Violet Gamble © Lois Blackburn 2009

Be ar b aiting for the queen

the roaring of lions:
p ain
cuts my leg off
cuts the eleph ant’s trunk off
fullstop hyphen exclamation

the howling:
when you hear aaaaaaaaa
pain's hot horseshoe
spit on it just before the strike
it explodes raging

the raging sea:
look out at the
there’s miles
between us

portions of eternity cry
you cry mainly
my wife going, going
(p ain de al with it your own way)
me in tears too great for the eye.



“You deal with pain in your own way.” anon 2008
Some get through with determination, others distract themselves. Some focus on the pain (willing it to get worse in some cases helps to reduce it) some people pray, some people take the drugs offered. Others shut down mentally, still others find that creativity can help to put their troubles outside themselves – for instance, writing or drawing can be a blessing. Often pain seems to come in different guises day-to-day and needs to be met differently.

Relief, yeah relief relief
very much so
a medication to ease
then you can carry on
marring the pain
a blanket over

when you get the pain
you drop right down

say you're standing on a stepladder
then you
take the medication
and you're back on the ladder

17th October 2008

a Kingdom

my mind to me a Kingdom
has come to me in illness
in sickness
in my body
my mind
isn’t captivated
not shut in
here, but let’s face it
could be by the sea
walking on pebbles or moors in Yorkshire
surrounded by moors in happiness or anger
my mind is a Kingdom
although you’re in
the ward you
can take yourself out any time
some learn to live with poverty or riches
some with illness

if you suffer for very long
have to say: not going under

count your blessings one by one one by one by one

(a Kingdom: I like to think I’m by the prom
the noise of the pebbles
one by one by one)


you get an affliction
get very resentful
have to adapt to
those beech leaves just turning red
a body case
can’t case your mind
you adapt
see someone a lot worse
live with your limitations
when you’re in a lot of pain
teaches you something
teaches patience

Queenie Wall, Catherine Cannon, Irene Corringan, Mary Hulme
November 2008