Writings and Witterings

Two Companion Poems


These are two of the poems that I wrote for Mike Alma’s poetry anthology Voices of 1919 published in 2016. There is a special performance of Voices of 1919 poetry by distinguished local actors on National Poetry Day, Thursday 28th September, at Elmsleigh Hall, Elmslie House, 8 Avenue Road, Great Malvern WR14 3AG–7pm until 9pm plus an interval

Bells Toll

Eliza Ruscoe at number thirteen
cocks her head, hears the bells toll,
she can tell the time by this and John,
husband, signalman, will be home soon,
carrying the metallic whiff of Brasso-clean levers
and fusty yellow dusters, faintly grey.
She serves stew, high in vegetables,
war-grown in the garden
where hens peck;
it used to be full of flowers,
now all chicken shit and veg.
She thinks of her boys
and their hollow legs,
looks forward to filling them up again,
thanks to an absence of telegrams.

Polly Stretton © 2016
First published in Voices of 1919 (2016)

John – the Signalman

He uses the yellow dusters
with the red, blanket-stitched edges
to shine the upright levers,
covering confusion and fear.
He was brought up with a stiff upper lip;
a trembling mouth was a sign of weakness.
He shows no worries for his two boys,
or ecstasy on their return,
though he feels it deep inside.
Deep down inside his joy
sits, welling up,
and his chest lifts,
a picture of pride in his sons.
His well-ordered existence
for once made a pleasure,
for they are coming home.
Coming home.

Polly Stretton © 2016
First published in Voices of 1919 (2016)

Front cover - Voices of 1919

18 thoughts on “Two Companion Poems

  1. Wonderful! Nice to read some more of your work. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aw…what a lovely thing to say, thanks Carrie. I’ve not been posting anything like as regularly as I once did, mostly because I’ve not had much time to focus on my writing. It’s so good to see that my friends continue to follow my posts when I do get on here. Hope all’s well with you. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So powerful Polly ! So glad you are making some time for the poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Léa. Always good to see you visiting and commenting. I’ve started writing a bit more of late, so who knows, maybe more will make it’s way onto here 🙂 x

      Liked by 1 person

      • So glad to have you back as I always love your work. Something must be in the air as I have recently posted two new pieces… 🙂 x

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ah! I must go in search of them. Part of the issue is that once a poem is on the blog it’s considered published, and I like to send mine off to try to find their own place in the world. Still, once they’re published elsewhere I can put them on here 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Poignant, filled with a longing to remain whole and complete. You have captured the voice of another generation. Brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comments Rebecca, coming from you, saying that the ‘voice of another generation’ is captured by my poetry, means a very great deal.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I found these poems very poignant. They took me back to a day when I was chatting to an old engine driver who was reminiscing about his days on the railway. he is dead now but I can’t see a signal without thinking of him and what his generation lived through.
    Your words express it beautifully!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fabulous poems Polly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on found-in-france and commented:
    Loved them both Polly. A bit of irony for me as yesterday I was inspired to begin a story set in that time. It came from a photo on the cover of Judith Barrow’s newest release. I haven’t begun yet today but over ten pages yesterday, and counting… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • These were a pleasure to create as Mike Alma had given us details of people / houses / the lives being lived – most inspiring.


  7. These are wonderful poems of presence and remembrance. Thank you, Polly. K.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love these two examples… I can imagine the collection and all the stories that exist in the backdrop of WWI

    Liked by 1 person

    • So many people writing poems about WWI at the mo…several of the big battles around 100 years ago. Thanks for commenting Björn 🙂


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