Why Would You Want to be Old?

by | Nov 15, 2019

My days are numbered I know that well

it is why I’m stuck here, in this living hell

the biscuits, stale, the tinkle of tea

and the nurses told not to bother with me

This home of mine, so barren and cold

while I lay awake, wondering, “Why would you want to be old?”


A memo went round, a snigger from the lads

there is to be a limit on incontinence pads

Worlds best practice, the limit is three

so be mindful of this when you need to pee

I turned to Vera, my neighbour, not to be too bold

I shouted “This is no place at all to be growing old.”


“Hurry up, old woman, if you want to be fed”

they shouted at me as I lay in my bed

There are others who live here, loosely defined

The solution is clear, the procedure refined

But I will not be laughed at, I won’t be cajoled

This is not the sort of place in which to be old


Taking a walk outside was always a joy

but cutbacks mean there are none to employ

who have the time, or the energy

to spend some time outside, walking with me

There are rumours this place is going to be sold

like this lot, who put a price on this growing old


These filthy, infested, soiled from the weeks

awaiting replacements, fresh, clean bed sheets

I won’t hold my breath, I’d expire right away

waiting for someone to make my day

A premium on sheets too, or so I am told

While I mumble again, “Why would you want to be old?”


There is a nurse who left, she just couldn’t cope

I used to tell her “While there’s life, there’s hope”

But I’m beginning to wonder, if my words mean a jot

as I wait for the completion of life, of my lot

This is not what I hoped for, to die in this mould

shallow in breathing, asking “Why would you want to be old?”


The government tells us they are rolling out help

their words, worthless, drivel, they hang like kelp

Their promises, empty, while I stir in this waste

in the bitter miasma, the lips yearning taste

the nonsense, the clipboard, the promise of gold

stripped of my dignity, as I die growing old


Why is it so difficult, it all seems so wrong

to make it this far deserves a dance, or a song

But instead we are curtained, we’re told to be quiet

denied of our story, forced to deny it

to celebrate life, this life that we hold

it’s not too much to ask for being this old


Some call it abuse, or a slight on neglect

as growing to be old dispatches respect

I’m poked and I’m prodded, as the tray comes around

while love is beseeched but none can be found

This hand I am holding, I’m ready to fold

as I ask the same question, “Why would you want to be old?”

© copyright – Stephen Newman 2019