The Sound of Silence

The big oak tree fell in the empty forest and onto withered leaves it came to rest.
It fell with the sound of a thousand cracking branches and landed with a bang of thunder. The roots came up violently through the earthy moss, from under.
It lay silently on the ground, until the beetles, bugs and animals gathered round.
Where had they come from to see the tree? The forest it was in fact, empty.
The sound of the tree was carried on the breeze.
So they came to the forest for themselves to see.
© Aiden P Shortall 2020

Anger of the sea

Relentless, you slam unforgiving at the thick stone wall,
You recoil, very briefly, as the foam and spray fall.
Your swell is high and your waves are strong,
as you remain agitated and attack the wall along the prom.
The force is so strong that it gives out a thud,
As you turn the once golden sand into a dark mud.
The wall is built strong and is able to stand, as you continue each blow while I watch from the strand.
The wind is so strong and your waves are so rough,
that the seagulls are finding a place to perch, tough.
They glide effortless through the storm, their feathers thick, keeping them warm.
The sky is a dark grey in the afternoon of the day and there doesn’t seem to be any break,
as you pound on the wall and the road starts to quake.
You slam into the rock with your waves that are strong,
As you continue your attack on the wall along the prom.
©Aiden P Shortall 2020.


Sitting outside on a brisk, springtime morn,
Cars pass by on the road beside us, with an occasional sound of a horn.
The cup is warm on my fingers, although the table is cold to the touch. We sit and talk and laugh and smile, we are by no means in need to rush.
The concrete is chilling beneath us, but our friendship, it warms our hearts.
Sitting outside in the city,
With good company, before the day starts.
©Aiden P Shortall 2020


In 5 minutes time I’ll get to have my long awaited break,
I really hope it won’t be long, my legs are starting to quake.
Wait, what’s that noise that I can hear coming from down the hall?
It’s the old person that just came in last night, they had another fall.
There goes the beep from room 23, their meds have to be given,
I can’t ask anyone else to do it, they’re all already busy.
There goes the monitor in room 10 he’s really trying his best,
I hope that he is still in bed, he really needs his rest.
In 31 and 45 I’ve to help them individually,
Sometimes I think that no one else works here, except me.
I really need to have my break, my stress is starting to show,
Wait! In only 5 minutes time, my shift is up, it will be time for me to go home.
©Aiden P Shortall 2020.

Working hands

Starting as a young boy,
A stranger to the plans.
Wearing boots and old clothes,
It didn’t matter the style or brand.
Welcomed on my first morning, excited for the day ahead.
It wasn’t very long until, my muscles felt as if they were dead.
Sand, cement, hard wall and tiles I did for many years.
Many a laugh and many a tear were shared along with my peers.
For years and years I laid on ‘muck’; made from cement and sand.
All those memories shine at me,
When I stare at the welts upon my hands.
©Aiden P. Shortall 2020

How do I write poetry?

This is a question that I’ve even asked myself on numerous occasions.

On the 26th July 2018, while on my way to work, on the night shift. I hit surface water on the motorway. My car aquaplaned and left the road at speed and skidded onto the grass verge and tumbled violently twice, before coming to rest on the roof. To say that I was lucky is an understatement. I was in the process of writing down memoirs from a previous family trauma, which would actually turn out to be my first book called, ‘The Tree That Fell in Winter’. A few weeks later, while I was out of work recovering. I was sitting down trying to finish my first draft. I looked out of the window to see a white butterfly gliding on the summer breeze. ‘That would be an interesting story. Maybe I could write a story on it when I’m finished with this one’, I thought to myself, but I couldn’t get the idea of the butterfly out of my head. The thoughts went round and round in my head until I decided to write a short story about it. As I wrote the first and second line. I realised that I had unintentionally made them ryhme. I continued and it led me to writing my first poem.

I never did well in school and I dropped out at 16 years old, with no qualifications. I was always told by my teachers that I was too lazy to learn or do anything. I found out at 30 years old that I am, in fact, dyslexic. I’ve no idea how that effects me now, but obviously hindered me while I was at school.

I’m 41 years old now and I’ve written and self-published 3 books. My first book, my second book, which is a book of poetry and a third book of short stories. I decided to self-publish because I didn’t want to have to rely on a publisher to get it printed and it was more satisfying to do it myself, as it wasn’t about money.

So, to answer the question of how I write poetry? I don’t actually know! It usually starts with something that I see,( a leaf, a tree, a snowflake, a field, an animal, etc.) which leads me asking myself the question of where are they going or where have they come from? It could be a feeling that could lead to a happy memory or an anxious future. I suffer with very bad depression and anxiety and I’ve been told before that writing actually helps getting your feelings out and clearing your mind. Anyway poetry for me is a short story that ryhmes and for someone with dyslexia and no qualifications, I don’t think that that’s half bad.

Aiden P. Shortall 2020

First time at sea:

The siren wailed through the ship one dark and starry night,
I jumped up quick from where I lay, no time to get a fright.
To the store where our protective gear, was always at the ready,
We were young men and highly trained, all of our nerves held steady.
Out on the deck we stood in line no need to launch the raft,
We used a wire to guide the way, we had to rush; get aft!
Around the ship it was so dark, staring into the night,
Suddenly, the ship rolled stern, that’s when I got a fright.
Staring at the starry sky, it suddenly dawned on me,
That what had been just before my eyes was a frightening, pitch black sea.
©Aiden P Shortall 2020.

The Process:

Taken from underground where minerals run deep,
Tightly compressed together for years, value it holds deep.
Kept in the fire just like a tortured soul, then hammered into submission until a new form it takes hold.
Quenched in the liquid to keep hard, strong and true,
The form stays humble, blackened and new.
Held against the moving sand to reveal the sharpness of a blade,
Then polished until the new design forever holds it shape.
A handle is then added to carry the metal new,
Those who threaten will feel its wrath,
Whenever the steel is drew.
©Aiden P Shortall 2020.

On the Streets:

I didn’t start out like this, sleeping in a box,
I came from a good family, a good home and very good stock.
I live and play in an alleyway, when the weather is still fine,
But when the temperature finally drops,
We’re trying to keep ourselves warm all the time.
People pass by the alleyway not giving us much thought,
My tummy groans when I get the smell of the food that they’ve just bought.
People treat us like mongrels or strays and just pass by in all the fuss,
Others treat us like vermin and filth and dirt and sometimes throw stones at us.
Last night we had our first meal from friendly people, that do not hoard,
I sat and ate it without chewing, on my little piece of cardboard.
You may be reading this poem and think that maybe it’s a dog that it’s written about,
But I am in fact a little Irish girl, evicted by a government, who failed us throughout.
©Aiden P Shortall 2020

Nightmares of a childhood

Sitting in a cattle truck,
Not knowing where we were.
A baby cries in the corner,
Her mother can only sit there.
We got to our barricks and that baby was thrown in a filthy old sack,
While we were herded into an empty room, with no windows, it was so dark.
They sprayed us with fire hoses to clean us, or so they say,
It was so strong, it almost ripped the skin from my bones, when I think back, that was the easy day.
Sleeping in bunk beds sometimes three beds high,
The people on top have diarrhoea, it falls down on me, where I lie.
Outside it is so very cold, sitting on the ground,
So we, as children, sit on the bodies that were piled up all around.
We were the lucky ones, sometimes we even tell ourselves,
We didn’t have gas chambers and mass extermination, we were just left rotting in our cells.
Then one day other soldiers came, to liberate us, they were sent,
But we were still sick and dying from hunger, we had no idea what liberation meant.
Sometimes I sit and tell the story of our lives living in that dreadful damp,
Living in fear of death and starvation, trapped in the nazi death camp.
©Aiden P Shortall 2020

Listening to two survivor’s of the holocaust telling their story.