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Writings and Witterings


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Lamb

My favourite springtime poem, published in Girl’s Got Rhythm: Lamb

Lamb

At the start of spring sunshine
in May, a clamour occurs,
an ignominious din.

She sees the lambs born
on a cool summer morn, stumble;
bumble, late in the daylight.

The sun rises at four,
red, ruby-gold glows up high
and christens the new-born babes.

It comes round, it goes around
it returns on this morning
of joy, of hope, of new lives.

Polly Stretton © 2012

For those interested in form in poetry, this is a Triversen which is described as:

The rhythm of normal speech, employing 1 to 4 strong stresses per line.

Stanzaic  Written in any number of tercets. Each tercet is one sentence, a kind of natural breath.

Grammatical  There should be 3 lines. L1 is a statement of fact or observation, L2 and L3 should set the tone, imply a condition or associated idea, or carry a metaphor for the original statement.

Alliteration contributes to stress.

Other ‘rules’ found on the internet:

Triversen:

Each stanza equals one sentence.

Each sentence/stanza breaks into 3 lines (each line is a separate phrase in the sentence).

There is a variable foot of 2-4 beats per line.

The poem as a whole should add up to 18 lines (or 6 stanzas). As you’ll see, I did not heed this rule, the poem seemed complete to me after just 4 stanzas 🙂


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The Poacher And The Hare


A witch astride her besom
is flying wide and high,
her cape flaps all about her
as she travels through the sky.
Her hair is black as coal dust,
she peers through one good eye,
as people far below her
look up, stupefied.

The final day of February,
beneath a wintery sky,
we find the local poacher
catching rabbits on the fly.
He is no big brave soldier
just needs some food to eat
before the world gets colder,
a stew will be a treat.

The witch sees him beneath her,
his gun slung o’er his arm,
she takes her eye out, polishes,
puts it back, still warm.
With clarity of vision
she sees a running hare
close enough for him to shoot,
she shouts out, ‘Run! Beware!’

The poacher takes exception
‘My supper’ he exclaims,
‘You’ve done me out of meat tonight,
‘for shame, old witch, for shame.’
‘Don’t you shame me, soldier,’
the witch forthright declaims,
‘That hare is running wild and free
’tis you should feel the shame.’

Polly Stretton © 2019



4 Comments

Pale Horse

Dead Man's Penny–with thanks to Jean Lee

With thanks to Jean Lee

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. 600 plaques were issued to women who died. You will probably recognise the allusion to the Pale Horse and his rider.

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

Written for and first published in the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis’s project: A Tale Of Two Cities, Contour eZine issue 3. With thanks to my collaborator, Beth Sweeney, who responded with a poem of her own, which you can see in the publication.


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Repetition

Move away from the waste paper bin.
Move away from the waste paper bin.
Little dogs mustn’t go in the waste paper bin.
Little dogs mustn’t go in the waste paper bin.
I know it’s fun, all that crinkly paper.
I know it’s fun, all that crinkly paper.
Move away from the waste paper bin.
Repetition becomes tedious.
I am patient.
I am patient.

Polly Stretton © 2016

Mabel Passport size photo


19 Comments

Latent

This poem was short listed for the Paragram Poetry Prize in 2013. I was invited to Covent Garden to read both this and the long listed ‘Hobgoblin Trees.’ Tonight I’m posting it for dVerse, where we have Kelly behind the bar. Kelly’s asked us about scents that linger, ‘Latent’ fits the criteria.

Latent

Grey, receding,
the fragrance of his shaving gel.
He carries an iPad.

The first thing to leave
is the light of his eyes.
I touch his absence;
a disembodied voice,                  ‘see you later.’

There are magical contortions
made by dust motes,
they swirl in the sunbeams that
pour through the east window,
and echo, ‘later, later.’

I still feel the tweed jacket,
rough against my fingers,
it lingers with his shadow in the room.

Polly Stretton © 2016

 


34 Comments

Six Foot Four – Sunflower

SunflowerSpirals

Image by lucapost via Flickr

Six Foot Four – Sunflower
What could be
more
outrageous
than
a six foot four
sunflower?
Native
of the Americas.

Perhaps…
10 tonnes of Ai Weiwei’s
famous porcelain sunflower seeds!
10 tonnes,
a tenth of those
covered
Tate Modern’s
Turbine Hall.

The perfect sunshine
yellow, fiery and proud,
stunning spirals
typically loud,
typically
times thirty-four inside,
fifty-five outside,
spirals.

Helianthus annuus
for birds,
for bread, medicine,
dyes, body paints,
sunflower oil,
livestock feed, latex
–yes, latex
six foot four!

Polly Stretton © 2015

To cheer up a miserable and overcast February afternoon, a rewrite of my 2012 poem about sunflowers, surely the most cheery of all 🙂


3 Comments

Have You Got Yours Yet?

Last minute gifts? Girl’s Got Rhythm is available direct from Black Pear Press, get yours via PayPal, if you’re in the UK:

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for those overseas:

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Chatterton is available only as an eBook, click here. The first edition was limited to 50 copies…and they’re sold out—but watch this space, a second edition may be published one day.

 

GGR BPP Front Cover - StrettonChatterton Front Cover–Stretton


46 Comments

Night Walk

In the depths of night the sky is sulky
walkers set out for the brow of the hill.
Around British Camp and down, down Shire Ditch,
where ill-willed faeries live love fly and dance.
They avoid Waum’s Cave for fear of the witch,
who lives alone, low deep down in the dell.

A crossroads appears, with pointing way stones,
to north, to south they direct the unwary.British Camp at night
No one can vouchsafe their accuracy,
no one knows it will pay to be chary.
The  ill-willed fae move the markers so the
wenders’ and  walkers’ strong boots go astray.

The witch steps on twigs and rattles old leaves
and the sky darkens more, charcoals to grey,
turns to pitch black and torch batt’ries are flat,
the walkers now feeling, stealing their way
over hillocks and humps, bracken and bumps,
in the depths of the night at the end of the day.

Polly Stretton © 2013

I’m linking this poem to dVerse Poets OpenLinkNight. Please join us.


29 Comments

No Snow

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

Christmas, and there’s
no snow.
Rain floods runnels,
banshees howl about the house.
Trees lurch, screaming,
torrents teeming,
roads dammed
across the land.

Close to New Year, and there’s
no snow. No icicles.
Nationwide: the floods.
And on we go to
see the wraith of
seasons gone,
the phantom here,
the ghost of those to come.

New Year, and there’s
no snow. No icicles. No frost.
Savage spectre of what is lost.
Seasons change.
Extremes occur:
spring’s like summer
used to be. Summer’s short.
Autumn comes early.

And so it goes from year to year
the seasons change, become austere.
Those who live with constant jeers
say this: until we do something,
until we care,
it’s our world, our earth,
whose fate
we share.

Polly Stretton © 2012

I am posting this for Claudia’s Change & Turns at dVerse Poets


66 Comments

not sorry yet

Meadow Run Away

four-year-old legs pumping running away
ma shouts after me ‘come back’ sister wails
ma is livid i pushed the bowl downstairs
this is how she sees it it is my fault
a tall ten-pint goldfish bowl three goldfish
i run down the meadow behind our house
it is hay-making time yellow grass scent
and dust tickle my nose and make me sneeze
sneeze stops me for long enough she catches
me i have glanced behind in my run and
seen her struggling with my little sister
but ma is grim-faced and determined that
i will be caught and punished it was an
accident i tripped knocked into the bowl
which bounced down each stair fish flying water
arcing the finest mirrored droplets splash
the sound of breaking glass tinkles downwards
she comes out of the kitchen babe on hip
and roars ‘nooooo’ i flee out the open door
my legs pump i feel my heart i hear my
breath coming jagged i smell the hay i
sneeze she catches me she screams thrashes me
and at each step thrashes me again all
up the meadow back into the house she
is crying hot angry tears me howling
mortified indignant rebellious
an accident i sob my jaw jutting
i am but four-years-old not sorry yet

Polly Stretton © 2012

‘For this week’s Poetics’ said Fred Rutherford aka Hobgoblin at dVerse, ‘I thought we could work in First Person Narrative.’ An opportunity to put up a favourite poem that appears in my poetry collection Girl’s Got Rhythm in which we see a four-year-old speak of injustice. And we might think about perspectives…


8 Comments

Updated: Morning Town Ride

English: Congestion on the London Underground

English: Congestion on the London Underground

As it’s nearly Christmas, here’s a special treat. A slight re-write of one of my favourite poems, and it seems, yours—it was selected for and published in the first edition of Nain Rouge and again in Girl’s Got Rhythm.

Morning Town Ride

chackety chack
chackety chack
chackety chack

Like a
toothpaste
tube of the
hunched up,
bunched up,
crunched up,
swilled and
SPIT at
station
drain.

chackety chack
chackety chack
chackety chack

Oh oh,
get some
mouthwash.
Don’t breathe
on me
please;
last night’s
garlic
was good,
last night.

chackety chack
chackety chack
chackety chack

Finger phones,
mobiles,
mails,
thumb apps,
flickr,
angry birds,
twitter.
Overheat,
a mass,
morass

chackety chack
chackety chack
chackety chack

of smells.
Standing
room only.
Balance,
read ‘Free
Metro’, or
‘Kindle’.
Hang from
bars like
sensible
apes (phew!)

chackety chack
chackety chack
chackety chack

Save
yourself!
bump,
lurch,
sway,
sway.
Hear
wheels,
tracks,
screech.

chackety chack
chackety chack
chackety chack

iPod,
earbuds,
bleeding tracks,
jiggle.
Fan face,
cool down,
heat up,
moist hot
heaps of
humanity …
ride …

On …
morning
town ride.

chackety chack
chackety chack
chackety chack

Polly Stretton © 2012


9 Comments

Girl’s Got Rhythm

Girl’s Got Rhythm—a lovely gift 🙂

Find your favourite poems in this, my first poetry collection. Six-foot-four Sunflower, Mother of Pearl, He Drinks Blood—something for everyone.

Available on Kindle—and on the Black Pear Press website.

GGR BPP Front Cover - Stretton


33 Comments

Launch Day! There It Was…Gone!

It’s launch day! At least, it was when I first put this post up! Now it’s been and gone and we had a great time, there was a cake with the book cover (marvellous) and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  Many, many thanks to everyone who performed and to all my guests—it really was a special night.

So, for those of you who don’t know what this is all about, Girl’s Got Rhythm, my debut poetry collection, is available on Kindle and from Black Pear Press 🙂

GGR BPP Front Cover - Stretton

The cake!


18 Comments

Nain Rouge—First Edition

A little while ago, the members of dVerse Poet’s Pub were invited to submit poems to Nain Rouge a start-up online publication showcasing urban life.  This invitation came during the celebration of the dVerse first year anniversary.  The assignment was to write a poem about city life.

Sadly, this link to Nain Rouge no longer takes you to the page, but you can see my poem at Morning Town Ride.  Great to see Gayle‘s superb poem about Boston as editor’s choice on the first page 🙂