Writings and Witterings



So many myths surround butterflies, here, a few of them are woven into a celebration of the beautiful little beings.


Dark Green Fritillary–with acknowledgment to butterfly-conservation.org


The spirit returns,
the soul is eager,
changes and chance,
danger and dance.

All over the world
they flitter and twirl,
flowers fade,
fritillaries flicker.

Glorious flutters,
eternal stutters;
symbol of stars,
amazed avatars.

The butterfly
who flies so high
works a world of art,
paints an image apart.

Polly Stretton © 2016



Sunlit Still

In response to the sepia photograph prompt at The Mag which was a new find for me in 2012 – now taking a bit of a break – this ekphrastic poem:

Sunlit Still

Captured for
all time
in the silent

A sunlit room,
in time
in a snapshot of time.

Unlit candles
cast darkness on sills.
A frozen head
time stands still.

It is 10:30.
It remains 10:30.
It will never be other
than 10:30.

Polly Stretton © 2016


The Hole Is Filled…

…but the project continues.

Here’s the latest photo of the pond hole that was…one broken finger and a couple of months later, thanks to good weather, progress has been made.

Nearly full

This is the rock that got my finger:

The guilty one!

…and here is a photo of a confused Clematis Alpina…they’re supposed to flower in the spring, this photo was taken a couple of days ago:

Clematis Alpina

Isn’t it beautiful?


The Mother

DAE-10371367 - © - De Agostini Picture L

The Death of Chatterton – Henry Wallis 1856 – original painting at The Tate Britain

Thomas Chatterton was only 17 years old when he died, (1752-1770), the original starving poet in a garret. It’s a mystery, still not certain, whether he committed suicide or if it was an accidental death.

Most of us know the pre-Raph painting of Chatterton on his deathbed by Henry Wallis, shown above. I’ve always loved the painting, it’s so beautifully detailed depicting Chatterton’s beauty even in death.

The poem below is just one from the pamphlet I published in 2014: in a series of poems we imagine friends, relatives and others of influence in Chatterton’s life gathered around the foot of his deathbed, remembering and commenting on his life. This poem is from his mother’s point of view.

The pamphlet is an ekphrastic* collection with mention made of each part of the painting, and at the back of the pamphlet there’s a potted history of Chatterton. Available as an eBook, details can be found here.



The Mother

Geranium scents the pale garret
breeze ruffling his hair, his dead hair,
hair I’ve brushed so many times.
My brilliant boy, he lies there still,
blue as his breeches,
blue as the mourning sky.
I will go mad. See his lifeless hand.

‘Ssssuicide,’ whisper shreds of papers.

My dear would not choose to
leave this way.
‘No suicide embrace for me,’ he wrote,
‘A poet’s penance is to live.’
Oh, my boy. My life.
Where was the time to put things right?
My ice blue son.

Polly Stretton © 2014



*poetry about another form of art.


Shakespeare’s Song

Words shamelessly borrowed from Shakespeare…on the 400th anniversary of his death I was challenged by Léa to create a poem from his famous words in celebration of his life.

Shakespeare’s Song

Manilow writes the songs
to make the whole world sing,
but Shakespeare coined the phrases
that make the voices ring:
it’s a foregone conclusion
there’ll be a plague on both your houses
if there’s a sea change
in all corners of the world.
We’ll be as merry as the day is long
come what may,
even at the turning of the tide
for ever and a day.
Good men and true,
will give the Devil his due,
high time we were once more
into the breach, dear friends,
once more.
Out of the jaws of death
we’ll pluck the pound of flesh,
walk the primrose path
and send him packing.
It sets your teeth on edge
when something is rotten in the state of Denmark;
star crossed lovers
are such stuff as dreams are made on.
There’s method in my madness,
aye, thereby hangs a tale,
this is the short and the long of it,
the truth will out.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,
we have seen better days,
when sorrows come, they come not single spies,
but in battalions.
The be all and end all,
the crack of doom,
the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
mean that the smallest worm will turn,
being trodden on.
Oh, woe is me,
while you live, tell the truth
and shame the Devil.

Polly Stretton © 2016


My Girls

My thanks to Claire Walker for her prompt on Squiffy Gnu asking us to write about siblings…this poem may never have been written without it.

My Girls

We do not share blood,
we share memories.
A lifetime of growing together
with the closest of parents.
We plunged hands into sweet-smelling
sawdust at fétes,
ran running races, you always behind me
egging me on.
You refused to go to ballet
and I missed you.
Brownies, you did for a bit,
got bored, and I was a Guide
on my own.
I had to take you everywhere,
my little shadow, even on my first date,
a trip to the cinema,
he cancelled because you were there.
You, hitting me with a Scholl sandal
by the coal bunker,
made brave by the presence of your friend
and Pixie the dog.
Dressing up for parties
dancing at local discos,
practising eye-liner, shadow, mascara
until dad said,
“Take that muck off your face.”
Sharing scents: ‘Californian Poppy’
and one with ‘Paris’ in its name
in a silver-topped blue bottle
bought from Woolworths.
Pinching mum’s ‘Mum’ stick deodorant
that made honeyed soft stains
on ‘My girls’.
Laughing about the nit-nurse at school.
Mum saying you needed a bra
more than me, even though
you were two years younger
––that was cutting––
when we were at Burnham-on-Sea
with her…the hottest, burniest
holiday ever. Nivea suntan lotioned
we stretched
on the sands not knowing
what life was to hold in store.

Polly Stretton © 2016


Chasing the Moment

I wish to paint
in the finest water colours.
…and to walk
then soak in a scented bath for hours.
I’d like to dip a brush
into the essence of wild flowers
in that instant, the moment,
that chases the lightest of showers.

Polly Stretton © 2016