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Writings and Witterings

Pale Horse

7 Comments

Pale Horse was one of two poems that were part of the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis’s project back in 2018 when she asked poets in Worcester UK and Worcester USA to collaborate in a Call and Response project. To see the poems that were published, click on the image below:

Contour Call & Response 2018

I was lucky to have been paired with Beth Sweeney from the States. We got on well and came up with four poems that we were both proud of 😄

NB: The Next of Kin Memorial Plaque is a bronze plaque known as the dead man’s penny. They were issued to the next of kin of those who died serving in WWI, nearly a million individuals. Only 600 if those plaques were issued to women who died.

Pale Horse

Heels down. Head up. Look
where you’re going.
Go to a place
where you can hear your heart;
listen to the beat,
forget the drub of a thousand pale hooves
and the horsemen of the apocalypse.
We rise and fall together.

Grandma had a penny to remember you,
a bronze memory she Brassoed weekly,
cast in physical prowess, spiritual power,
in devotion to the triumph of good,
Britannia faces left, holds a laurel wreath,
there’s a box beneath, holding your name in raised relief,
and you, a man of miracles.
We rise and fall together.

A circular coin made whole, inscribed:
‘He died for freedom and honour’.
You are a man, who has gone,
yet nonetheless lives.
Your Penelope still waits.
Put the littered marshy slew behind you,
put it behind you.
We will start again.

Go to a place
where you can hear your heart;
listen to the beat.
No pale horse snickers,
no harbinger rides quicker,
no more horseshoes, trench fever, heat.
We sleep.
We rise and fall together.

Polly Stretton © 2018

Published in Contour WPL Magazine Issue 3 https://issuu.com/ninalewis3/docs/special_edition_contour_atotc_issue by
the 2017-2018 Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis for her call and response project: A Tale of Two Cities

and in Growing Places (Black Pear Press, 2021)

Here is an audio recording of the poem.

7 thoughts on “Pale Horse

  1. LOVED LOVED LOVED your recitation. Thank you. Will come back to listen about. I had goosebumps.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful, as always. I lived in Worcester for a short time when I was a child.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Polly, Good poem.  Have recently read an article about the dead man’s penny. Best wishes, Kevin OUP.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kevin, at the time i.e., during the WWI commemorations, I was doing much research and came across reference to a dead man’s penny. I mentioned it at my dog training class (of all places!) and the trainer had one that had been passed down in her family over the years. She brought it along the next week and I took photographs with her permission to share. It was one of those weird times when one went from knowing nothing about them to discovering quite a lot! 😄

      Like

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