Polly

Writings and Witterings


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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

 


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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