“Make a decision,” is what me ma said,
As she wearily plucked at each feather,
‘Er old gnarled fingers rough and red
And clumsily workin’ together.
“Yer’ll not get another chance like this,
Two offers in less than a week.
Great mother of pearl! A decision now girl,
This situation’s unique.”

She smoothed ‘er ‘ands down ‘er faded frock.
“They’re neither o’ them from the slums.
Both o’ them lads come from suitable stock.”
As the stale bread was chopped into crumbs.
“Make up yer mind now which one it’ll be,
Tie the knot so we don’t ‘ave t’ worry.”
“But I’m in me prime ma, there’s plenty o’ time ma,
I don’t understand, what’s the hurry?”

“Me an’ yer pa want ta see ya wed,
While we’re still alive an’ kickin’.
Don’t put it off till we’re sick or dead.”
She grumbled above the pale chicken.
“They’re both of ‘em fine young gentlemen,
Ambitious an’ makin’ a wage.
Just be glad they’re employed,” she sounded annoyed,
As she mixed in the onion and sage.

“Yer not gettin’ any younger ya know,
Decent guys will get ‘arder t’ find.
If yer wait too much longer yer wrinkles‘ll show,
Yer’ll be needin’ somebody ‘alf blind.
Just listen up now an’ don’t scowl like that,
Yer’d better pay mind to yer mother.
Yer father an’ me, we both agree,
Yer ‘ave ta choose one or the other.”

“But ma I’m not graspin’ at every crumb,
I’ve only just turned twenty-nine.
I don’t feel that way about either of ‘em.
That Otto’s a bit of a swine.
An’ even though Dwight’s in a church membership,
Although ‘e’s good lookin’ an’ trim,
Did yer notice ‘e skips with ‘is ‘ands on ‘is ‘ips,
There’s somethin’ not right about ‘im.”

“Just make a decision an’ don’t be s’ picky,
Yer’d think yer were queen o’ the Nile.
Yer’ll end up an old maid like Abigail Hickey,
She’ll never walk down the aisle.
Don’t be so foolish an’ full o’ yourself,
They’re both of ‘em smitten wi’ you.
Yer cannot refuse so just bloody well choose,
One or the other will do.”

“Yer don’t understand ma, they’re just not me type,
It’s different today than back then.”
“Baloney!” She uttered, “That’s nothin’ but tripe.”
As the stuffin’ was crammed in the hen.
“Things is no different, it’s all in yer ‘ead,
Pay attention, I’ll tell yer what’s true.
Yer takin’ a chance if yer wait for romance,
One or the other will do.”

“Our Edgar’s not married yet, what about ‘im?
‘Ow come ‘e’s not gettin’ nagged,
Ta marry that girl, the one ‘e calls Kim,
The one ‘e’s been boastin’ ‘e shagged?”
“Leave Edgar out o’ this, ‘e’s a good lad,
There’s plenty o’ time fer yer brother,
But without any doubt, yer time’s runnin’ out,
Yer’ll ‘ave ta choose one or the other.”

“But Otto, ‘e works in a butcher’s shop,
An’ Dwight’s in the co-op in beddin’.
Neither o’ them’s gonna get ta the top,
We’ll never afford a big weddin.”
“Well, ‘scuse me yer ladyship, ‘ere comes ya coach,
Yer off ta traverse Timbuktu!
But fer chasin’ down pelf, yer’ll be left on the shelf,
One or the other will do.

“Stir up this gravy now, there’s a good lass,
An’ tell me when it starts ta thicken.
Yer gotta remember we ain’t upper class,
There’s no steak fer us, only chicken.
Yer father an’ me’s only wantin’ what’s best,
I’ll not say n’ more,” said me mother.
“Yer knows what yer worth so come back down ta earth,
Yer just got ta choose one or the other!”



Norma Pain was born in Liverpool, England and now lives in Parksville, British Columbia, Canada. Thirty of Norma’s poems were published by Dana Literary Society, between 2004 and 2007 and she was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize by that same on-line poetry site. She self-published a book of rhyme in 2000 called Bulging Assets.

NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to mbryant@classicalpoets.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here.

22 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    Story-telling at its best!
    Just brilliant – I felt like I was right there in the kitchen with them!

  2. Paul Freeman

    Marvellous. I could even hear the mother’s croaky, nagging voice.

    Thanks for the read and the smile.

  3. Jeff Eardley

    Norma, you had my wife and I howling with laughter as I read this out loud today. I could almost hear this in the voice of the great Hilda Ogden. It is north country twang of the highest quality. Coronation Street needs you Norma. I will pass this on to my friend, Willie Eckerslike. Thank you and tarra for a bit.

    • Norma Pain

      I do love to make poetry that makes people laugh, so I really appreciate your comments Jeff.

  4. Brian Yapko

    Norma, this is a delight from start to finish. I love your use of dialect and the characterizations are so deftly crafted. There are many memorable lines but I may well have to start saying “Great mother of pearl!” Thank you for a most enjoyable read!

  5. C.B. Anderson

    This was miles more amusing than anything I’ve read in many a year.

  6. David Watt

    Norma, I really enjoyed your tale, both for the memorable dialogue and the kitchen setting. Ma doesn’t miss a beat in preparing chicken and stuffing as she makes her case for a snappy marriage.

    • Norma Pain

      So glad you enjoyed it David. ‘Marry in haste and repent at leisure’ comes to mind.

  7. Joseph S. Salemi

    The language of this poem suggests early twentieth-century rural England (except for the word “Baloney,” which is an Americanism). In that time and place, the age of 29 in a woman was old-maid territory.

    • Norma Pain

      Yes, marriage by the age of 18 was the norm, with plenty of time ahead to raise many children before your eggs and patience ran out! Thank you for commenting Joseph.

  8. Paul Freeman

    The age thing did sort of jar. I suppose ‘twenty-one’ and ‘That Otto isn’t any fun’ would solve the one hurdle.

    As for ‘Baloney’ – there’s ‘codswallop’, ‘balderdash’, ‘what rubbish’ and a thousand more alternatives.

    Just had another read through, Norma – Good Mother of Pearl, there are a plethora of fantastic lines.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Paul and for all the suggestions. I appreciate it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.