How Troubling to Know Mrs. Pain

How troubling to know Mrs. Pain.
She has written some ludicrous stuff.
Some think that she hasn’t a brain,
And some think she has just enough.

She types her stuff on the computer,
Sometimes late into the night.
The hairstyle she has doesn’t suit her,
She’s almost passé… but not quite.

She’s apt to be tense and uneasy,
She’s a bit of a hermit of sorts.
Fried sausages make her feel queasy,
And she freaks at the mention of warts.

She’s very reluctant to travel,
She seems to live up to her name.
It’s caused an addiction to Gravol,
Which really is rather a shame.

She’s tongue-tied in group situations.
When she laughs she is likely to snort.
Her clothes always need alterations,
Because she’s incredibly short.

She thinks she should be more proactive,
She currently does diddlysquat.
It would make her she thinks, more attractive,
Realistically though it would not.

Her culinary efforts are dreary,
And definitely far from exotic.
But do not complain or she’s teary,
And for a week after… neurotic!

Too often of late she indulges
In ice cream when she should abstain.
Then she complains about bulges,
How troubling to know Mrs. Pain.



Mother Agnes

“You are old mother Agnes,” the young woman stated,
__“And often trip over your cat.
You frequently seem to be intoxicated,
__Pray, what is the reason for that?”

“In my youth,” mother Agnes replied with a slur,
__“I drank because you were a brat.
And everything since then is simply a blur
__And I honestly like it like that.”

“You are old mother Agnes and long in the tooth,
__You have lost any semblance of charm,
And yet you keep guzzling gin and vermouth,
__Are you sure it’s not doing you harm?”

“In my youth,” mother Agnes replied to her daughter,
__“I drank only one day in four,
But now I am old I believe that I oughta
__Be able to drink so much more.”

“You are old mother Agnes; the make-up you wear
__Is as thick as an elephant’s hide,
And yet it would seem that you really don’t care
__That your face is of one who has died.”

“In my youth,” said her mother; “I wore it to hide
__Every slight imperfection or spot,
And though there are times when it looks like I died,
__It appears after all, I did not.”

“You are old mother Agnes and soon to expire
__So in church I choke up with a tear,
And yet you continue to sing in the choir,
__Do you not give a whit for my ear?”

“In my youth,” said her mother, “I sang in the shower,
__My shyness so hard to dispel.
But as I grew older… less sweet and more sour,
__That’s when I came out of my shell.”

“You are old mother Agnes; I fear that your mind
__From the spirits, is turning to mush,
I do not intend to be rude or unkind
__But you really are rather a lush.”

“I have answered three questions regarding my youth”
__Said her mother, “I’m thirsty I think,
It’s time for my evening gin and vermouth,
__Do shut-up and pour me a drink.”



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.

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32 Responses

  1. Julian D. Woodruff

    Great, Norma. I’m betting I’d prefer Mother Agnes’s company to father William’s. I suspect that she wouldn’t bother with the choir unless its repertory was other than what should be confined to the shower.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for your funny comment Julian. The shower is the only place that I can sing these days.

  2. Jeff Eardley

    Norma, what a great Boxing Day delight from you today. The Autobiography can’t be true, or can it?
    Mother Agnes certainly knows how to enjoy life. I can’t pick out any particular lines, because they are all brilliant. A great dose of fun today. Thank you.

    • Norma Pain

      To poke fun at oneself is kind of fun! I will just say that, sadly some of it is true but not all. Thank you so much for your kind comments Jeff.

  3. Russel Winick

    Norma – these are both terrific! Really fun reads. Do I detect some Dorothy Parker in How Troubling to Know Mrs. Pain?

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for your lovely comments Russel. My poem is a parody on ‘How Pleasant to know Mr. Lear’, which was written by Edward Lear (1812-1888). I believe he was the creator of the Limerick.

    • Norma Pain

      Sorry Russel, I might have misread your reference to Dorothy Parker. I imagine you know all about Mr. Lear. I have a book of Dorothy Parker’s called “The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker” (1996) by Silverstein, and I do appreciate her kind of humor. If that is what you meant, then I am very grateful for the lovely compliment.

  4. jd

    I knew there would be wit with the rhyme
    and cadence. Tried to write a positive final
    verse with the same but could not match your
    expertise. Enjoyed them both, Norma.

  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Norma, I knew I was going to smile when I saw your post this fine Boxing Day morning… and I am grinning from ear to ear. Mrs. Pain sounds all too human and rather lovely… I think I have a pinch or two of Mrs. Pain in me.

    “Mother Agnes” is wonderful and a perfect companion piece to “Father William.” I am certain Mr. Carroll would be smiling. I adore “Mother Agnes”, her spirit and her indulgence in them. A stiff Martini is a medicinal marvel for any chastised mother in her dotage. Norma, thank you very much indeed! Here’s wishing you a happy Boxing Day!

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you very much for your lovely comments Susan. I often tell people when introduced that I am not a pain, I just married one!! My husband is very forgiving. Wishing you a very happy Boxing Day too.

  6. Paul Freeman

    Some fabulous Christmas humour. Thanks for the laughs and smiles, Norma. No one brings out innocent, unencumbered fun in their poetry like you do.

  7. Norma Pain

    Thank you Paul for your much appreciated comments. I do hope humor does not go the way of the Dodo bird, with all of the politically correct and overly-sensitive people ruining our fun. He who laughs last, laughs… last, or something like that!

  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    Norma, the take-off on Lear is hilarious. But Mother Agnes has answered four questions, not three! She seems to be more patient than Father William was.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for your comments Joseph. Hilarious is what I was going for so thank you very much.

  9. Margaret Coats

    What original wit in all the details, Norma! That’s what makes imitation a worthy art form, as most poets in past ages knew. And I have to suppose contemporary feminists would not be at all pleased by your splendid feminizing of male characters well known in the repertoire of poetic humor. But then, they are short on a sense of fun.

    • Norma Pain

      My husband’s favorite quote is “you can’t beat fun for a good time”. Without laughter, life would be very dull indeed. Thank you for your lovely comments Margaret.

  10. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Norma, I have always been attracted to your humor. You have outdone yourself with these wonderful words of comical self-deprecation (or at least those of Mrs. Pain) in the first one and the images of the mother and daughter discussing their perceptions of each other! Thank you for the fun.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for your lovely comments Roy. In these odd days, poking fun at yourself is a lot safer.

  11. James Sale

    Some names lend themselves to parody, don’t they Norma? Mine – Sale – does! But Pain is even better – gave me a great chuckle, especially the ‘diddlysquat’ and its rhyme! Well done.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for your comments James. I am so pleased it made you chuckle. My husband and I do get a few comments on our name, especially spelled this way. I take this opportunity to wish you a very Happy New Year.

  12. Anna J. Arredondo


    I didn’t get a chance to read these when they first appeared, and I’m so glad I came back to read them! Two excellent parodies (I hadn’t heard of the Mr. Lear poem previously). I particularly enjoyed “Mother Agnes”.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for stopping by to read my poems and commenting Anna. I am so glad that you enjoyed my little bit of humor.


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