Writings and Witterings

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Detective Noir

Hardboiled, cynical,
the dick
in love.

His slinky girl
—in sequins
and seed pearls—
sees ‘Hardboiled’ is playing away;
the scent of aftershave
is a dead giveaway.

Fresh shirt;
new jeans;
shaved clean.

She can tell
by the smirk
he’s got a bit of skirt.

Who is she?

Slinky, glitter tarnished
by what she thinks,
becomes what he has not detected…

© 2014 Polly Stretton


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Ten Pound Poms

There’s a new British historical drama series coming to TV soon: Ten Pound Poms. Here is a poem I wrote a long time ago, updated. I’m intrigued to see how it stacks up against the coming drama 😄 My birth mother and half-sister were ten pound poms.

Ten Pound Poms

Crowds line the docks in the nineteen fifties,
waiting to sail to a new land, they’re thrifty;
they’ve paid just a tenner to get on the ship
and want a lot more than just a round trip.
A land called Australia arouses their dreams,
they think with nostalgia of Britain, it seems.
Passports in hands, papers in luggage,
they yearn for the new world, new life, new mortgage.
They spurn the old world, the doled world, the cold world,
they are excited, celebrating,

Citizenship promised after only one year,
and warmth, their skin, bones, eyes become clear,
some will be famous in due course perhaps,
the new life that beckons is free of all traps,
and they dream of fame on the stage or in government,
the future is bright and there will be betterment.
The scheme extends to other nations,
many, it seems, seek a change of location,
“Please stay for two years or refund the money,”
this is the land of milk and honey.
Going to work in a new place,
they’re a new face,
without trace,

Girl’s Got Rhythm (Black Pear Press, 2012 and 2016) rewritten 2023

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ClearView at Covent Garden

193 steps,
Covent Garden tube,
waiting for a lift…
and there’s a ClearView poster
asking One Line Or Two?

It would have been wonderful
had there been ClearView
when we planned babies.
Imagine the waiting
endless waiting,
waiting for missing,
missing the month.
Two days late, three, four,
five, six?
Day seven—blood.

For sure, today
there’s the same flood
of disappointment,
for a child who will never be.
A baby so real, that he or she
with a mop of dark hair
on a small, neat head
is more than a line on a ClearView test.

193 steps
Covent Garden tube,
waiting for a lift.

‘Life’s Wonders’ (Black Pear Press, 2023)

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Voices for Angela

Mobius Faith–Angie

Photo by Terry S. Amstutz, a.k.a. mobius faith:

This ekphrastic poem was written in response to a prompt by d’Verse a long time ago when they asked us to look at the Mobius Faith image, above, and respond to it. I read it at the Worcestershire Libraries Poetry Bubble last night, so thought I’d share it with you.

Voices for Angela

He heard the boyfriend say her name,
‘Angie.’ Angie.
Saw them embrace as she stepped from the train.
Angie. Angie.
She had some news, that much was clear
from the way she beamed at the boyfriend, ‘Here,
see our scan.’
Her hand fluttered over her still thin front.
Angie. Angie.
The boyfriend gave her belly a rub.
Angie. Angie.

Arm in arm they walked up the steps
oblivious to the follower with voices in his head.
Angie. Angie.

He sprayed her name across the door,
on rusting containers on the floor.
Angie. Angie.
She had nothing to do with him at all,
knew nothing of his voices sepulchral.
Angie. Angie.
Except he killed her that foul day
as the evil voices echoed, played
inside his head, they stayed and stayed.
Angie. Angie.

Polly Stretton © 2012

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Less able, less worthy, less useful,
more vulnerable, weak, needing care?
There’s life left in the old girl yet,
she can cope with wispy hair.
It’s true, the hair’s become thinner
and there are lines on show,
eyebrows have quite disappeared
and ears continue to grow,
the bones in the face are weird,
etchings splay around the mouth
they run off from skinny dipping lips
and the chin, the chin makes a pointy witch,
plus, a neck of crepe doesn’t look so great.
A comfort is that so many relate,
and only the lucky get old.

Rewritten 2023

Re-imagining Ageing Lab4Living & Sheffield Library (2022)


Love Bites

I had to be an optimist
happy through and through
to perpetually smile
and swing along with you
what times we had
good times, laughter bright, loud, new
remnant embers shone
with sultry amber hue.

Remember the embers
the soft and sultry glow?
You’ll crunch along life’s ashy path
mind how the cinders blow
they’ll cut your eyes and make them bleed
for love has teeth that bite
such wounds will never ever heal
there are no words to help congeal
or close those cold love bites.

© Polly Stretton 2023

Published in On the Words of Love (Brian Wrixton & Poets with Voices Strong, 2012)

Girls Got Rhythm (Black Pear Press, 2016)

Rewritten 2023




With acknowledgement to Alan Nicholls

Talking to Alan today in our writing group, we recalled this photo and the poem. It seems incredible that it first made it online in 2016.


In the present, from the past,
a voice that echoes,
sayings that last.
Even when the body has gone
what was said will linger on.
‘My mum used to say…’
‘My grannie too…’
‘My dad would have something to say to you.’
In the present, from the past,
a voice that echoes,
echoes last.

Polly Stretton © 2016

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You are a rainbow, a gilded-winged messenger,
a fresh-faced goddess
refilling rain clouds with seawater.
Speed of the wind,
by your side.

into the ocean, dark underworld,
unhindered by the caduceus,
unchecked before sea serpents.

Harpy sister
bring to Zeus the great oath of gods,
Iris, take him your ewer
sweet syrup of nectar.
Swift-footed, sure, storm-like rage
of the messenger bent on your twin.
Your joy flowing from Arke’s wings on Achilles’ heels.

Harbinger of light in a gossamer gown:
ruby red;
organza orange;
yarrow yellow;
gecko green;
byzantine blue;
important indigo;
virtuous violet
—the realm of the rainbow is yours—
always beyond reach.

Growing Places, (Black Pear Press, 2021)


Up the Bridle Path

On my walk today…
empty crushed cartons line the lane,
the wind brings them here to irritate,
drive residents insane.

Cold chip wrappings,
crumpled plastic bottles, soiled crisp bags,
coloured foil, grubby and flapping.
But further on, up the bridle path,
through the crooked gate away from the road,
here are newts, grass snakes, a toad.

Past the marsh bog a vixen appears,
over the mead, to the hedgerow she jogs.
And in the hedge, once the danger has gone,
a rabbit comes nibbling; lollops along.
Buzzards overhead, a pair, no three,
they look at the pheasant,
the rabbit, and me.

The pheasant croaks, cries, as if to warn
the rabbit, who runs through wet grass.


A buzzard dives.

© Polly Stretton 2022

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Winter comes stealthing…it’s 5am dark,
silent and chill; August hangs her red head.
A wet summer trails to an autumn, stark,
the seasons have become confused, misled.
In lightening sky, dark sunfree clouds leer,
the pensive garden, still, holds its slow breath
in blowsy brash overblown garb this year.
Scents of autumn waft a whispered caress,
as songbirds want to wake us earlier
the moon sets in the black night to stir us.
Morning dew drenches noble courtiers,
who with the sovereign sun will shake us.
Cool autumn day you stretch, yawn, sleepy grey,
and we must get up and join in the fray.

© Polly Stretton 2022
Girl’s Got Rhythm, (Black Pear Press, 2012)

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A gothic tale from ‘The Alchemy of 42’

A Transylvanian melody chimes through the night.
The air is still and warm, there is no trace of light.
He haunts the forest glades and the castle where she lies,
she strains to hear his footsteps, her hopes can’t be disguised,
she knows he’s coming for her, yet no fear shows in her eyes.

She wants to keep this castle, comprehends he can’t resist,
knew it from All Hallows’ when he stole a hard-pressed kiss,
knew it by her father’s pale and trembling lips,
knew it from her mother’s stark forbidding hiss.

She enjoys his sense of style, his dark and brooding brow,
his high and sculpted cheekbones, his skin white-cold, ice-sallow;
in his cape of burnished black, he is the maniac
the villagers with their garlic fear and dread.
She smiles at the thought of the crosses they have wrought
to stop him ascending to her bed.

She discerns her soul will wince when she hears the chimes, since,
when discord climbs the stairs, he’ll try to claim her for his own.
The scent of juniper, aromatic, spiced, sincere,
is the harbinger she’s counted on; dreamt about for years.

A rap upon her door, her pulse races, her mind roars,
she plans to keep this castle and will do evermore.
He leans in close towards her, his cape as soft as zephyrs,
it sweeps her pure white nightgown as he slowly travels down;
his breath, a mist of insight, strokes her furrowed frown.
His teeth glint in the moonlight, from her, he’ll get no swift flight,
she arches, plunges in the knife…

He’ll not take the castle from her, not deny her of her home,
but of one thing she is certain, it won’t be far he’ll roam.
The haunting now commences and continues till the dawn,
she licks her lips: a killing, and legends to be spawned.

Shared with dVerse Poets (2015)

The Alchemy of 42, Black Pear Press (2020)



This is the one song that everyone
would like to learn: the song 
that is irresistible’.
Margaret Attwood (1998) 

Threads of melodies tack through sultry air,
weave over waves, surge past the shore,
travel to a boat and see the split shot sinkers
he presses onto lines to give them weight.

His head tilts like a vertical bobbin,
shuttles back and forth to pick up the thread,
wonders where the sound originates,
ponders—perhaps it’s only in his head.

The sound’s in the shape of his lover
the woman he dreams of through the day
and then he sees his line is entangled,
he won’t make it back to her early this way.

He picks at the line and starts to unravel
yet siren threads drift closer, he hears
them become the soft tone
of his love’s sweet blandishments,

‘Promise you’ll be early
tonight, my dear?’
He shakes his head, the song enthralls.
Home calls, his wish: to kiss her soon.

Growing Places (Black Pear Press, 2021)

At a week-long workshop during lockdown, the theme was the sea. At that time, I was reading poetry by Margaret Attwood and enjoyed her ‘Siren Song’, I love Greek myths and am fascinated by fishermen – I remember as a child seeing one who was repairing nets on the harbour – such a solitary life, it seems to me. I acknowledge Margaret Attwood and quote the first stanza of ‘Siren Song’ in ‘Entanglement’.

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Lion’s Gate

Point your heart at Sirius,
a flower opens up,
star-group Sirius,
bright in the night skies
light in your eyes.

Essence of joy
tunes to an out-of-time state,
energy, rhythms of guitars,
the stars, auras of significance,
the Dog Star barks.

Point your heart at Sirius
brightest star in the night
lightest touch to your eye.
Dog days of sultry summer,
heavy and hot, hot, sultry, heavy, hot.

Thunderstorms bring fever,
blight the bark of trees,
parch us to our knees.
Drowse through summer
languid with heat,
scorched or sparkling.

Point your heart at Sirius,
God of life and more
Sirius[2] is yours.

Polly Stretton © 2020

The Lion’s Gate—the annual period of the heliacal rise of Sirius, brightest star in our sky and a great ‘Spiritual Sun’ of our Sun—is at its peak on the 8th day of the 8th month of the solar year. The first day of Sirius’s annual reappearance over the horizon at dawn, July 26th, was taken as the beginning point of the Ancient Egyptian calendar cycle, and was also the first day of the Mayan lunar calendar each year, in an intuitive unison of solar and lunar energetic patterns. The energy of the double infinity of the 8+8 within the circle of Creation is expressed in sacred geometry as the Rose Cross or Tetracross.

[1] Egyptian god of fertility, agriculture, the afterlife and the underworld, the dead, resurrection, life, and vegetation
[2] In ancient Egypt, the name Sirius signified its nature as scorching or sparkling. The star was associated with the Egyptian gods Osiris, Sopdet and other gods. Ancient Egyptians noted that Sirius rose just before the sun each year immediately prior to the annual flooding of the Nile River.