Polly

Writings and Witterings


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Brown And Blue

We live in canvas bells for five days’
sweat-clammy shelter,
hot in fields of hay,
as a great war rages.
Anne and I become snake
and snake charmer around a smoky campfire.
The menfolk ‘on the front’
– some of our dads –
kill.
My dad’s a Local Defence Volunteer. He has a gun.
We have a singsong, Pack Up Your Troubles for wide-eyed mothers,
nurses, head-scarved land girls,
and munitions factory workers, canary-faced women
who feast on fat pork spitting
splitting sausages that stay
on the tongue with charred onion breath, for hours.

We wonder what it’s like
on the bloody muddy Western front.
Will jam jars and cotton reels really help?
If You Were The Only Girl In The World
our mothers’ eyes shine.
Big blue-garbed Girl Guides
tease us because we’re brown
– few gongs yet –
Me, arms akimbo, in a khaki sleeping bag;
writhing, serpentine, up and down,
side to side,
while Anne tootles, fluting on her recorder,
face dark with gravy browning.
In the trenches guns shatter eardrums, pop eyeballs, make mush of bones.

The big girls give out rubbery gas masks
– hard to breathe –
they send messages using small flags;
wrinkle soapy fingers in hospitals; lather and launder dressings;
roll bandages; prep stretchers for bleeding bodies.

We collect warm hens’ eggs, harvest cabbages and keep our chins up,
knit socks and scarves for the Tommies,
and hope our mums don’t get a telegram.

Polly Robinson © 2014

This poem was published in Remember, the Paragram Poetry Anthology 2014, I mentioned this in conversation with my friend, Mike Alma, who has sent me the photo below to show what the Girl Guides looked like in the early 20th century. Many thanks Mike. Here is Mike’s photo of Doris and Peg, bet they loved camping.

Mike's mum as a Guide circa 1920

Mike’s mum as a Guide circa 1920


70 Comments

First Love

piano

The piano is in need of tuning
so it can be played in key
music is my first love
rock opera symphony

I love music sheets tucked inside the seat
of piano stool beneath
music soft music loud music beautiful
uplifting and complete

Dissonance: off key
jangles discord—clang clang
the music chaotic bitter sharp
air disturbed—bang bang

Black keys and white keys
wait proud and still
for the piano tuner’s lever
(here he comes up the hill)

He plays sotto voce
presto forte staccato allegro
adagio tosto tutti vivace
tenerezza eco o o o o oh

A tonic in tune once more
affettuoso read the score
pianissimo dolcissimo
come play me piano implores

Polly Robinson © 2012 reposted for Poetics – Under the Influence of Music, a prompt from Anthony Desmond.

Sotto voce: in an undertone
Presto: very fast
Forte: loud; strong
Staccato: brief; detached
Allegro: fast
Adagio: slowly
Tosto: swift; rapid
Tutti:
all; everyone
Vivace: lively
Tenerezza: tenderly
Eco: echo; an effect in which a group of notes is repeated


14 Comments

The Wait Poetry Anthology – poetry for a cause

My copy of The Wait Poetry Anthology has arrived! I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to see poems from my friends and fave bloggers, Alex Malcolm-Carr and MarinaSofia plus 97 other wonderful poets. ‘Mrs Smithfield’ is rubbing shoulders with some ace poems.

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George Sandifer-Smith has edited this collection of poems and the proceeds go to Cancer Research – a worthwhile cause that I’ve supported in many ways for a long time, as a member of the LitFest team, as an individual, and as a Rotarian. Starting with ‘A Crimson Smile’ by Faisal Al-Doori and moving though to finish with ‘How I know I need a biscuit in the afternoon’ by Katherine Stansfield, these, plus the ones in between, are more than worth a read.

One of my dearest friends is currently seeing oncologists because her cancer has returned. What can I say? I join with the Worcestershire Breast Unit Campaign and others: ‘Everyone knows someone’. We must keep helping and supporting. We just must.

Thank you, George and the team, for this compilation. I understand that an e-book will be available at some point, but for the time being, here is another link with information about how to purchase the book online.

Everyone should have a copy – brilliant poetry for a brilliant cause.


25 Comments

Here I Am…

…did you miss me? ;)

I’ve been away at The Hurst, on a wonderful Arvon course with ace poet Holly Magill. We had a fab time with tutors Patience Agbabi and Luke Kennard, and guest poet Katrina Naomi.
Here is a poem that came out of one of the sessions during which we discussed characters in poetry :)

The Paper Maker

Left, right, left, right,
quick march,
reams of paper,
white and starched.
Order restored,
all in place,
a gross for Mr Johnson
at the Poetry Place.

My name’s Charley,
Charley Waite,
‘course, they call me
Paper Waite,
the bloody kids
who want a job,
all through the summer.

They should be like me,
left school at fifteen,
did me no harm as you can see.
Stopping conscription
in nineteen sixty:
the worst thing that happened
for our kids.

Little shits,
graffiti-ing the mill.
I’ll give ‘em ‘summer job,’
they’ll get bugger all.
They can scrub
and clean
‘til those bricks
are pristine,
again.

Left, right, left, right,
quick march,
reams of paper,
white and starched.
Order restored,
all in place,
a gross for Miss Chard
at the Post Office.

Polly Robinson © 2014

…and here are some marvellous photos courtesy of Richard Stephenson, all having a great time – click on the images to enlarge :)

Arvon poets at The Hurst 2014 - by Richard Stephenson

Arvon poets at The Hurst 2014 – by Richard Stephenson

Fun on the final night - by Richard Stephenson

Fun on the final night – by Richard Stephenson

 


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The Old Dollop – an Englyn

The old dollop enjoys his jollop and
always talks lots of rot.
His hair is tied in a knot.
He wears shorts, sandals, blue socks.

Polly Robinson © 2014

This Celtic poetry form, the straight one-rhymed ‘englyn unodl union’ consists of four lines of ten, six, seven and seven syllables. The seventh, eighth or ninth syllable of the first line introduces the rhyme and this is repeated on the last syllable of the other three lines. The part of the first line after the rhyme alliterates with the first part of the second line.