Polly

Writings and Witterings


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Folk Like Us / Winds Of Change

My poem below is an ekphrastic poem based on a painting by Graham Wilson entitled Saturday Morning, you can see some of Graham’s art by clicking here. The poem was written as part of a project for Droitwich Arts Network for their exhibition in the Long Gallery at Hanbury Hall. Currently, I don’t have a decent photo of the painting, but it’s a scene in which, when you first see it, all appears to be full of cheer. The family and their neighbours in a terraced street are all out in their back gardens doing their weekend chores. Like most art there is more to be seen ‘beneath the surface’.

Folk Like Us / Winds Of Change

Open waistcoat, tinted glasses,
fat black moustache;
he’s willing the teddy-boy
to mend the bike.
1950’s Middle England,
post-war, pre-PC; transitions,
pop-music is positioned
to take over the world.

The wind streams fragrant smoke
and waves the washing away…
no sooty sheets today.
Broken fences scatter,
they don’t matter
in a jovial terraced scene;
a typical weekend for folk like us.

Mum, pinnied, scarved, lugs the prop,
her girl holds a basket of clothes aloft.
The dog’s on alert,
and look, there’s Bert
tending his pigeons,
braces crossed,
—Bert never goes out without braces—

The baby hears the wind,
sheets flap, prop scrapes, bike engine stutters,
dog barks, and the boy in the shed
fires his cap-gun. ‘BANG’.
It makes baby jump.
Mum—the one with the red hat–
tucks the blankets closer.
The baby’s wrapped up snug,
as the winds of change blow.

Polly Stretton © 2017

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One Bottle – Six Glasses. – Lesley Quayle

One Bottle – Six Glasses.
 
This row seems more serious – we have decided not to forgive.
I’m down here with the expensive bottle I was saving

for Christmas.  You’re upstairs, in bed, restlessly asleep, a frown
in your dreams.  I pull the cork and pour myself a full glass,

red as an open heart.  Those things we said, we meant – when hurt
we strike out like snarling strangers then crumble into remorse.

It’s commonplace. This time – another glass of wine – we didn’t
make things right,  bumped away from each other, bruised, sad,

your eyes rejecting mine like an awkward stranger.  A refill.  My pain
rearranges itself into rage.  I scavenge your selfish bones, pick your

arguments bare.  Guilt settles on me like a bad debt.  Reach for the
bottle, fill up the glass.  There’s a chasm between us, the rift grows wider

by the hour…

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Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe invites YOU to the launch of this year’s Young Writer Anthology!

Always good to hear the young writers read their work.

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe

YW Launch 17

Hardly a week goes by without something exciting happening here at Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe, and this weekend we’re delighted to be launching this year’s Young Writer Anthology, published by Worcester’s own Black Pear Press.

The event will take place this weekend (November 19th) at Titania, Security House, in Worcester. Doors will open at 3:30pm for a 4:00pm start, and the event itself will be made up of readings from the anthology. This is a wonderful opportunity to hear a new wave of writing voices, picked from our very own county – AND you can grab yourselves a copy of the anthology while you’re there.

Excellent readings, light refreshments, and an afternoon of stellar entertainment to break up a gloomy November weekend; this is definitely one for the calendar!

For further information about the launch, or any other LitFest and Fringe events, please email Charley at: secretary@worcslitfest.co.uk.

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Jet – Claire Walker

Jet – an extraordinary stone – and an extraordinary poem from Claire.

Foxglove Journal

So much mourning.

We brooch it over our hearts,

wear it tight around throats.

 

We fold into our rosaries,

each bead a black prayer

shovelled through aching fingers.

 

This type of coal smokes

around our wrists,

forges itself into chains.

 

We have mined so long

even gemstones grow brittle

against our grief. It splits,

cracks like bark in a blaze.

12718029_871924849596518_4897711566017020968_n (1)Claire Walker’s poetry has been published in magazines, anthologies and webzines including The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Poetry Shed, and The Chronicles of Eve. She is a Reader for Three Drops Press, and Co-Editor of Atrium poetry webzine. Her first pamphlet – The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile – was published by V. Press in 2015, and a second – Somewhere Between Rose and Black – will follow in December 2017.

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Bones Under A Bridge

Tiny pile of bones
under a bridge
you were found out;
talked to the hawk,
or a murder of crows.

Maybe your first love,
the one that found you
in flagrante
set you up,
or the second, the witness,
who heard your infidelity.

Selfish and faithless, you will be alone.
The bridge won’t help.
We celebrate
bones ‘neath the bridge.
You were fond of saying,

‘No one cares.’

Polly Stretton © 2017

 


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Remembrance Anthology

Rememberance

Poet Laureate

poppies-2585930_1920

Letters from the Great War

Dunham Massey 2014

Mother, we have plenty of good food here
was his first lie, though parcels came sometimes
with cake, fags, dry socks.

I hope I will get leave soon, so I can
come and meet our daughter for the first time,
wrote the officer when leave was withdrawn.

I am not afraid, mum, not with all my mates
going over the top with me in the morning.
He was killed soon after, his body never found.

We sing songs in our trench every night, dad.
Glad I took my mouth organ like you said.
It keeps our spirits up a treat.

I could not be in a better place, darling,
wrote the officer from hospital, keeping
the amputation quiet for now.

These letters displayed a hundred years on,
as fresh as when first scratched out in ink,
still lie to readers, as we…

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Good News For A Squirrel!

Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis has blogged about the event at Hanbury Hall at which I was asked to read my poem ‘Curves’. ‘Curves’ was selected by Peter Hawkins of Droitwich Arts Network (DAN) to be read at the close of the art exhibition. If you’d like to see the painting that inspired it, click here.

There will be readings from the Hanbury Hall poets at Park’s Cafe, 4 Victoria Square, Droitwich WR9 8DS on Tuesday 14th November 7.30 to 8.15pm – come along if you can 🙂

Curves

She owns it:
the branch.
She’s ready for summer
in a lighter coat.
Her curves tell
of coppery kittens
to be born later today,
two, three, or four will arrive
to inhabit the drey.

The painter’s sable brush,
pure,
soft as a blush
to define the narrow
smart face in a tuft-eared embrace.
A picture to enhance the repeated romance
of a cheeky red squirrel
in Norfolk.

The artist describes,
in faint, refined strokes,
sharp arced claws
curved in applause,
and a tail, balanced to guide
a talent that tints
the nut connoisseur,
against the bark
and spiky cones of the conifer.

Polly Stretton © 2017