Just Words

The more we are together dear,
__I fear… can love suffice?
Of late I find you’re cavalier
__And not so very nice.
Your nonstop nag-nag-nagging
__Is a never-ending drain,
Your tongue a-wag-wag-wagging
__Dear, is driving me insane.

The more we are together my sweet,
__The less I see you smile.
Oh give my aching heart a treat
__And shut-up for a while.
Your ceaseless pick-pick-picking
__That provoked this caustic rhyme,
Has set our clock a-ticking
__And we’re running out of time.

These words are only words my dear,
__Don’t look at me that way.
Don’t let this toxic atmosphere
__Give rise to our decay.
And so, my love, lets battle on
__Despite this stormy weather,
Though it would seem that love is gone,
__The more we are together.



Your Picture

A picture’s worth a thousand words…
__Yours was worth a few.
It actually got ripped in thirds,
__When it stuck to my shoe.
The frame itself was bent in half,
__The glass shards scattered far.
I swept them up on your behalf,
__My darling… au revoir.

I don’t know where that picture is
__And frankly I don’t care.
I ditched our towels, “hers” and “his”
__And went for “solitaire.”
So stay away from my domain
__To you I’m now immune,
If I never see your face again
__It will be much too soon!


If Only

If only I had held my tongue,
__If only I had stalled.
Instead, words from my mouth were flung
__That could not be recalled.
The sickened look upon your face,
__The sorrow in your eyes,
The anger… maybe just a trace,
__All came as no surprise.

If only I had stopped to think
__And not allowed my pain,
To cause my self-esteem to shrink
__And muddle-up my brain.
The words came fast and furious,
__I spit them out like venom,
Not caring how injurious,
__My mood as blue as denim.

If only things had not gone south,
__If only I’d been civil,
Instead of spewing from my mouth
__Incomprehensive drivel.
If I had simply kept my cool
__And not felt so defeated,
And acted by the golden rule…
__Treat as you would be treated.

Perhaps we might have worked it out
__And broken down the wall.
Whatever did we fight about?
__I really can’t recall.
And now you’re gone, I miss you, and
__I wouldn’t be so lonely…
__If only.



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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26 Responses

  1. Margaret Coats

    Norma, what a series of heartache humor! The meter and funny touches make them seem less serious, but those who go through these deadly things can’t come out without some wry smiles. My favorite is “My mood as blue as denim.” A good color contrast with the golden rule that might have helped.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you Margaret. If only we could all follow the ‘golden rule’, what a wonderful world it would be.

  2. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Norma, like Margaret, I also am enamored with the phrase, “My mood as blue as denim,” that so perfectly fits the meter and rhyme! I have that one stamped in my mind. I have told you before how closely your humor fits mine! I only fear there are sorrows behind the poems with regrets and self-reproaching, but for the rest of us your humor entertained us.

  3. Paul Freeman

    The frivolity of the meter belies the serious subject matter of ‘Just Words’ and ‘If Only’. And ‘Your Picture’ had some classic, quotable lines, I felt.

    I enjoyed the way the themes are different in each ‘relationship’ poem – the couple that stay together because…; the woman whose having a good riddance rant; the woman who’s trying to repair the damage she’s done to her relationship through her sharp tongue.

    Thanks for the reads, Norma.

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    All three poems are well crafted, and I hope readers notice that there is no indication whatsoever in the grammar that the speaker is male or female. These poems could be the complaints of a wife, a husband, a fiance, a fiancee, a lover, a boyfriend, or a girlfriend.

    I especially like “Just Words” and “Your Picture,” because they revel in the plain, unsentimental, ass-kicking diction that we need more of in the formalist revolt. I am sick to death of sugary, cutesy-poo sentiment.

    I have one complaint about “If Only.” The ending disappoints. Light verse is supposed to be about perfect polish, absolute regularity of meter, and wrap-ups as tight as a hangman’s noose.

    Dare I suggest a change? Try this on for size:

    And now you’re gone, I miss you, and
    I wouldn’t be so lonely
    If you were back here in command,
    And I your one and only.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for your comments Joseph and your recognition that the poems do not specify a male or female as the subject matter. You had me laughing at your ‘cutesy-poo sentiment’, comment. I appreciate your suggestion of a more wrapped-up ending but the word “command” didn’t sit well with me. I perhaps am a bit of a rebel… but a nice one!

  5. Cheryl Corey

    I enjoyed all of these, Norma, with the playful rhymes of “nag-nag-nagging” and “a-wag-wag-wagging”; and in the second poem, the rhymes of “far” with “au revoir”, “care” with “solitaire”.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you Cheryl. I enjoyed using those those phrases to get my point across in a slightly fun way, in order to lessen the blow.

  6. C.B. Anderson

    All three, Norma, in my opinion were excellent. You come from a faraway place and you always pull me there. Your brand of wry humor has become normative.

  7. Sally Cook

    Dear Norma –

    Lots of wry and a plethora of pumpernickel ! Don’t ever stop presenting our foibles in your own unique way. Love them.

  8. Cynthia Erlandson

    These poems showed a real gift for making this reader both sad and amused at the same time. I’m sure that’s not easy to do!

  9. Lannie David Brockstein

    Norma Pain wrote:
    > If only things had not gone south,
    > If only I’d been civil,
    > Instead of spewing from my mouth
    > Incomprehensive drivel.
    > If I had simply kept my cool
    > And not felt so defeated,
    > And acted by the golden rule…
    > Treat as you would be treated.

    This stanza harbours a cheeky criticism of the Democrat Party’s slavery sanctioning South having caused the American Civil War because its southern hospitality did not include the recognition that “all men are created equal”.

    • Norma Pain

      Well that wasn’t my intention but thank you for taking the time to comment Lannie.

  10. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Norma, what a trio of poetic treats that I have thoroughly enjoyed. All are admirably crafted, mellifluous delights with toe-tapping meter and excellent rhyming skills. ‘Your Picture’ is hilarious, and while ‘Just Words’ and ‘If Only’ are humorous too, they have a heart touching message that we would all do well to listen to. Words really do matter, and Norma, you say so beautifully! Thank you!

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you Susan. Mellifluous… a new word for me, and how sweet it is! We poets love words and I am appreciative of all the new ones I am learning from my fellow-poets and my dictionary.

  11. Brian A Yapko

    Norma, I enjoyed all three of these tremendously. Yes, they are exceedingly good poetry but I admire them more because they are deeply observant of human nature. These are not exactly “feel good” poems, but they display wit, wisdom and they do not shy away from revealing unflattering qualities of the speakers. In their self-deprecating humor, these poems demonstrate an unusually keen level of each speaker’s self-awareness.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for your perceptive comments Brian, which let me know that I achieved my objective.

  12. Jeff Eardley

    Norma, you are back in Pam Ayres territory again with this scintillating trio of observations. I loved the stamping on the photo bit and the dumping of the his and hers towels. One of your best so far.
    Great stuff, as ever from you.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you very much for your comments Jeff. It was fun to take an ‘icky’ subject and try to make it somewhat humorous.

  13. Anna J. Arredondo


    I’m glad I came back to read these. Your storytelling and wry humor were well showcased in these three poems. I particularly like “If Only”, and I like the effect of the abrupt truncation of the final stanza, and the lone, wistful “if only…”


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