Polly

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



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The Black Bridge—Coeur Noir

Coeur Noir

Shabby pile of bones
under a black bridge.
You were found out;
talked to the hawk,
or a murder of crows.

The shapes in white body suits,
blue overshoes,
said ‘unmistakable odour,’
‘caustic’ was overheard;
forensics disclosed
burned flesh.

Maybe your first,
who found you
in flagrante,
set you up,
or the second, the witness,
incredulous,
who could not bear
to believe.

Selfish, faithless,
you are alone.
The black bridge won’t help,
it mocks;
celebrates bones,
Coeur Noir,
parched bones,
bones never to be grieved,
beneath the bridge.

Polly Stretton © 2018


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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