Polly

Writings and Witterings

Herbie

18 Comments

English: Old wicket onto the moors

Up here on the moors
In summer
Skylarks play
And the sun beats
A tattoo
On the old ack-ack
Shelter.

The conversion from shelter
To shelter took minutes only.
Herbie came here years ago,
So many years ago
He can’t recall exactly when,
But after the war.
Certainly, after the war.

He brought with him
A primus stove,
A kettle and a pan
And a small mix
Of important things.

He walks nine miles into town
To source
A bit of food
And books.
There is silence here;
On the moors,
Few come by.
Away from roads and footpaths;
Desolate,
It suits him.

He cherishes a gold chain;
A postcard of Samaria Gorge;
A hunting knife;
A lighter and a blackened tin mug.
The knife skins and guts rabbits,
Herbie found it under a tree,
Stumbled across it when walking
Into town,
Fell over the corner of a
Box
Sticking out of the ground
Curious, he dug it up.
Within, was the knife
Covered
By a stained,
Decomposing mouldy cloth.

His father’s gold chain
Is worn
Around his neck.
Dad wanted to be buried with it,
But it was wartime,
Few were lucky enough to be buried,
Herbie took it as a talisman.
It worked,
He knew it had,
He lived through the war.

As a squaddie in Greece,
Training,
He relished the 12-mile Samaria Gorge walk,
Happy days with
Like-minded people,
People hard if not
Impossible
To come across since.
The mug came from the same era,
One item the QM failed to retrieve;
Herbie wore it on his belt,
Much used,
It reminded him
Of better days.

The abandoned lighter
Was a recent find
Outside a pub,
Carelessly left on a table
A zippo full of fluid
Likely to keep going for a while
Priceless to Herbie.
He’d smiled
A rare smile
As he pocketed it knowing
His days of damp matches
Were a thing of the past
For a while
At least.

Polly Robinson © 2012

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18 thoughts on “Herbie

  1. Thanks Carrie – trying out a narrative poem …

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  2. I like a narrative poem… like the little stories of the individual items, why they meant something to him.
    Also some of the line breaks are cool – the one where he stumbles over the “box” (with the word set alone on it’s own line) feels like an unexpected stumble. Nicely done.

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  3. I am very proud to say that Herbie appears in the Brian Wrixon & Poets with Voices Strong Anthology Reflections on a Blue Planet 2: Earth-Water-Sky published 2012

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  4. what an interesting guy…a bit of a hermit…i really like how you brought out his character by talking about the few things that were really important to him…his treasures…

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    • I am intrigued by people who choose to live in isolation … and so Herbie came about … his treasures are very special to him … thank you for your thoughts and comments Brian 🙂

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  5. nice…really like how you describe him…love all the details…the bits of history you weave in…

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    • Thank you Claudia … this is a much longer poem than I usually write … but wanted to capture his character and the detail, I hope, adds to the essence of Herbie.

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  6. very good…I can see me in that hermit..without wife and kids that is surely where I would be.

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    • Mmmm … there’s something very appealing about that sort of lifestyle ‘eh Mark? Mind you, I’d probably be cold all the time [a bit of a wus!]

      Thanks for visiting and commenting 🙂

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  7. Lovely characterization, Polly. I especially like the opening… it really captured my attention.

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  8. Wonderful write. I think perhaps the Herbie’s of this world (who live with nature by choice) are far richer than many of us could ever imagine…

    Anna :o]

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  9. Polly, this is just masterful. I love the idea of how you chose significant artifacts to define your character and how, in choosing them, you create a sense of mystery and make us want to know more. The moors…I want to be there–the whole feeling of romance one associates with Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. Lovely.

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    • Victoria, so good to see you here, and thank you for your comments on Herbie … I wanted to run around shouting yes, yes, and yes … Just what I was getting at, so glad it worked for you …

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  10. This man must be VERY old now? The character does lie so tangibly in the details. Solitude has deepened his superstitions and made dear his finds, living close to the vest in so many ways and surely where memories are like holograms come to life to keep him company! Splendid work, very well crafted!

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  11. Hmmm … there’s something ageless about him Gay …

    ‘Living close to the vest’ I don’t know this phrase, pardon my ignorance Gay, but what does it mean?

    I am pleased you like Herbie, I’m terribly fond of him …

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