Pen To Print

Click "Enter" to submit the form.

Showcase: I Was But A Boy + Extract From The Midwife And Birth In The Maltese Community In The 20th Century +  Diabetes! + The Link Between Anxiety And Binge Eating

By Mirabel Lavelle

This weekend, we commemorate Armistice Day, when at 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month we remember those who lost their lives for the freedom of their homeland. Poppy wreaths are laid down in memory of each life extinguished.

My first choice for today is a poem about a young man dreaming of being at home with his family, as he stands in the WW1 trenches, preparing to fight.

I Was But A Boy – Lest We Forget

I was but a boy when called to fight in the war
I wanted to run like never before
My fear was tremendous and it took all my might,
to focus and train… prepare to fight.
How I dreamt of being home and tucked up in bed

yet I stood in the trenches
preparing for battle instead.
I prayed to the heavens like never before.
I prayed for an end to this godforsaken war
I prayed for a tomorrow, just a day more.
I was fighting a fight I knew I couldn’t win
but with my family in mind, I never gave in
it was long and bloody, cold and wet
it was dark and gloomy, a time never to forget.
My clothes were soaked,
my boots were sodden
yet I sat in the mud
the stench around me was rotten
I wished for my family like never before
recalling the day they waved me off at the door
I love you I shouted, I’ll be home soon
Yet months had passed and I was still
surrounded by gloom,
I heard the whistle blow,
it was time to get ready

I got to my feet, trying to hold my weapon steady.
I composed myself the best I could
surrounded by soldiers who understood.
We were all scared, and wracked with fear
pictures in our minds of those we held dear
The signal was given, it was time to go
we clambered up the trenches,
our heart filled with woe

The noise was so loud, it was chaos out there
but we continued to move forward
bullets flying through the air.
Then suddenly it fell silent
I felt cold inside,
I was laying on the floor
comrades at my side
I knew I’d been hit, but no pain did I feel
blood seeping from my chest
for the earth to steal
I thought of my family
and said my goodbyes
a smile on my face
tears in my eyes
I’d fought my fight.
I did my best,

but now it was time for my body to rest.
Warmth took over
and my fear subsides
there’s a light in the darkness
I didn’t see through my eyes
I gave my tomorrow
for your today

So live life to the full
Don’t squander it away.

© Tammy Griffiths Palmer, 2022

You can connect with Tammy on Facebook.


The next excerpt is from a book about home births in my country, Malta. It portrays the link between how homes were designed and how families functioned in the past.

The author, Janice Caruana, worked as an ambulance nurse for several years and became curious to know more about the past community midwives and births outside the hospital.

In this unique book, she shares her research and interviews.

The Midwife And Birth In The Maltese Community In The 20th Century

(Il-Majjsitra u t-twelid fil-komunitá Maltija fis-seklu 20. Published 2019)

The Alcova

In the past days, it was a common trend for architects to include a birth room in the plan of Maltese houses. The Maltese families used to live together as extended families under the same roof. Although this could be advantageous because children could be cared for and the elderly taken care of, it was challenging for couples to find some privacy to connect.

The birth room, also known as the Ghorfa and Alcova, used to be the only vacant, private space not to be shared by others. The room where the couple could be intimate, and if the woman fell pregnant, it was also used by woman to deliver her baby.

The Ghorfa was the ‘workplace’ for the community midwife, but birth can happen anytime and everywhere. The following are two passages in which the community midwife Josephine Portelli explains a typical home birth and a less typical one. This happened in the middle of the 20th century in Malta:

The midwife Josephine Portelli would tell the mothers, “Listen, now we have work to do. Listen to what I say, and we will do this hand in hand together.” She continued, “I would allow the mother to breathe and relax between contractions, check how dilated she is, and sit calmly by her side. When I notice she is having a contraction, I would encourage her by saying, “now we must help each other, help me so that I can help you. Shh, there is no need to shout, breathe… breathe slowly. That contraction has passed.”

“One cold winter night, the doorbell rang, and two men were on my doorstep. I quickly put on my coat and went away with them. We travelled by Jeep belonging to the soldiers. These men wore leather, hooded clothing. I remember it was dark and raining heavily. My husband was concerned about my safety, so he went to the police station a few meters away from our home. He inquired about the identity of the two men, but they assured him that they had already identified them and were considered genuine people. They were farmers. The wife of one of them was having frequent contractions and required the help of the midwife.”

© Janice Caruana, 2019

You can connect with Janice through Facebook: Il-Majjistra u Twelid fil-Komunità Maltija


Hope Roberts writes about the importance of looking after our body by fuelling ourselves with nourishing food and partaking in exercise. It’s essential not to neglect our health; after all, our body is our primary habitat.

Hope explains why she was inspired to write her poem Diabetes! 

“I wrote this poem to explain in a simple way what diabetes is, how to do your own checks, and how to prevent and manage this disease with healthy foods and healthy lifestyle to my patients in my diabetic clinics when I worked as a practice nurse.”


What is Diabetes? It is when the pancreas gets lazy or packed up, causing
Sweetened blood.
Sweetened urine.
Acquired thirst.
Sweetened body.
This is when health problems begin. You begin to feel unwell.
Your body begins to rebel.
Because! 0f changes in its function.
The body cries out for help!
A healthy diet, no sugar, More exercise.
Take your tablets, Take your insulin.
Check your eyes.

Check your blood sugar
Help the body to feel healthy again.
Medical advice is a must!
A new lifestyle begins.
Your diabetic team, you must trust.
For support and guidance without a fuss.

© Hope Roberts, 2022

You can find out more at Hope’s website:

Hope Roberts is a published author of several healthy eating and lifestyle books. Find them online here:


I’d like to continue with the theme of our body being our home. My final piece comes from an inspirational young man, Sam Gibson, who speaks about the link between anxiety and eating habits.

During my 30 years working with young adults in local colleges and at university, I’ve come across numerous young people struggling with self-image and mental health.

Sam tells us that our mind is curious and how this curiosity for learning new things helped him to turn his life around, to become healthy and well again. He’s now in a strong position to help others.

The Link Between Anxiety And Binge Eating 


It’s a BIG SCARY word, right?
It’s a word that can fill you with dread and terror
It used to do that for me.
Back in 2017-18
I was living life on the verge of panic attacks every day
I didn’t understand what it was, why it was there, and what it meant
So I feared it.

It would be easier to comprehend the terror if there was an actual danger in front of you
Like a Saber tooth tiger attempting to eat you
you would understand why you felt terror
There is an obvious threat right in front of you
But when it comes to feeling anxiety?
Waking up at 2 am from a dream with your heart pounding out of your chest
not being able to breathe
thinking you are dying of a heart attack
Is pretty hard to comprehend as its not logical
But our emotions , are very rarely logical.


It got to the stage where it was so bad
I considered ending it all.
I was at a crossroads in my life.
Give up or fight
I had to figure out what was causing fear and terror in my life.
It was ruining my relationship.
I mean, the last thing you want to do is get laid
when you’re terrified of your shadow
It was ruining my relationship with my parents
I blamed them for many of my issues
It was ruining my friendships.
I didn’t have any as I isolated myself
That trapped creative energy
that I wasn’t using to reach my potential
was the same energy that was creating the anxiety trapped inside my body
Waiting to be released.


You see, I figured it out
Your brain is a problem-solving machine.
When you are – sitting about – moping – dwelling
not doing anything meaningful with your life
You are in a state of INACTION
That’s where I was at this time in my life.
I left university with high hopes in 2017
and applied for a few jobs
I got rejected over and over
So because I felt rejected?
I gave up
I didn’t feel good enough.. So what was the point in trying?
When I stopped trying
I just spent all day inside my head
Dwelling, thinking, and not accepting the reality of my problems.
It caused my self-worth
aka ‘feeling good enough,’
to be zero
I was feeling rejected by society
But I was just rejecting myself
No wonder I was stuck in a state of constant anxiety


“You can’t be curious and fearful at the same time’’
If I got curious about WHY this anxiety was keeping me stuck in a state of fear
would I get over the fear?
For me
it was the unconscious fear of not being good enough
combined with the genuine danger of me not looking after my body
With the binge eating, drug taking
and the masking and bottling up of emotions
These factors caused me to experience a ‘mental breakdown.’
And I felt too broken to be helped
which created an eating disorder
As the only way, I knew how to ‘turn off the dark thoughts
It was to eat in the middle of the night
Going into a carb-coma would relax and numb me out
I was able to sedate myself
And then I was able to sleep
But the next day
I would wake up feeling so guilty and ashamed.


So my question for you is:
What are you running away from that you know you shouldn’t be running away from?
What are you denying to be true that you shouldn’t be denying?
What potential deep down do you know you’ve left on the table?
What fears are you avoiding that you know you need to overcome?
The answer?
You get curious And therefore give your brain a chance to overcome anxiety
By learning NEW THINGS
You can start taking action on the things you have been avoiding in your life
You don’t have to run away from it
Because your brain can not be curious
and fearful at the same time
So get curious about your fears
Get curious about your emotions
Get curious about your life again
You have to look underneath the surface level
The very, thing you fear the most
is also the very answer to all of your problems
But you need to prove it to your brain by facing up to what you’ve been avoiding
Maybe, if you worked on this?
You would be able to see your anxiety as feedback
to take the actions you should be taking in your life
Only you know.

© Sam Gibson, 2022

You can connect with Sam on Instagram: @samgibsonlimitless and on Facebook:

Contact the Samaritans: or Free Phone: 116 123


If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! Showcase, please submit your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to:

You can read the latest issue (14) of Write On! here.

Hear extracts from Showcase in our podcast. Write On! Audio. Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo or find us on Anchor FM.


If you or someone you know has been affected by issues covered in our pages, please see the relevant link below for ​information, advice and support​:

Advice & Support