Writings and Witterings


Two Companion Poems

These are two of the poems that I wrote for Mike Alma’s poetry anthology Voices of 1919 published in 2016. There is a special performance of Voices of 1919 poetry by distinguished local actors on National Poetry Day, Thursday 28th September, at Elmsleigh Hall, Elmslie House, 8 Avenue Road, Great Malvern WR14 3AG–7pm until 9pm plus an interval

Bells Toll

Eliza Ruscoe at number thirteen
cocks her head, hears the bells toll,
she can tell the time by this and John,
husband, signalman, will be home soon,
carrying the metallic whiff of Brasso-clean levers
and fusty yellow dusters, faintly grey.
She serves stew, high in vegetables,
war-grown in the garden
where hens peck;
it used to be full of flowers,
now all chicken shit and veg.
She thinks of her boys
and their hollow legs,
looks forward to filling them up again,
thanks to an absence of telegrams.

Polly Stretton © 2016
First published in Voices of 1919 (2016)

John – the Signalman

He uses the yellow dusters
with the red, blanket-stitched edges
to shine the upright levers,
covering confusion and fear.
He was brought up with a stiff upper lip;
a trembling mouth was a sign of weakness.
He shows no worries for his two boys,
or ecstasy on their return,
though he feels it deep inside.
Deep down inside his joy
sits, welling up,
and his chest lifts,
a picture of pride in his sons.
His well-ordered existence
for once made a pleasure,
for they are coming home.
Coming home.

Polly Stretton © 2016
First published in Voices of 1919 (2016)

Front cover - Voices of 1919



One Day

A poem by my dear friend and talented writer, Mike Alma.

One Day (for a friend)

Old poems – special words –
Will find a new place,
Whether in harsh light
Or in closed shadow …

But they will return
Where they belong,

One day.

New poems will, for a while,
Write themselves
Without due care
Or consideration …

And some
Will hold their place,

One day.

Start and end …
Start anew
And today will become

Much sooner than you think …

And, then, will be no more
Than a yesterday …

One day.

Mike Alma © 2013


The Temporary Book-seller

Mike Alma did a sterling job selling Girl’s Got Rhythm and recorded the experience in a poem 🙂

The Temporary Book-seller

A poem by Mike Alma

“How much, guv’?”

“A fiver to you, bruv’,
And you, sister?”

“Go on, make it four, mister.”

“I can’t do that, chick …
Well, maybe, if you kiss me quick.”

“I won’t do that, you stupid perve –
Don’t know how you’ve got the nerve.”

“Me neither – never mind –
Just a thought, if you’d be so kind.”

“My hubby, ‘ere, is eight foot eight,
So I think you must anticipate
An exit through that closed door, there …”

“Do you think that threat is really fair?”

“Fair or not, that’s what you’ll get,
And I can’t see no safety net!”

“’Ere I go, I’m on my way –
Flying now – no time to pray
For redemption, less it comes real quick,
‘Cause I’m trav’lin’ at a fair old lick.”

Crash, bang, wallop – stars above –
“How ‘bout two pound fifty, luv?”

N.B. Must be read in a North London accent – essential to properly comprehend the nuances present in the spoken word associated with certain areas of Ponders End, Enfield Wash and Brimsdown (Brims-daaahn) – no, not cockney … not even Dick Van (‘ello guv’na’) Dyke.