Writings and Witterings


Mrs Smithfield

Mrs Smithfield writes an ode
and, like a spy,
quietly slips
the blue lined pages
to me.
Her soft brown cardigan
– mohair –
sheds tiny pearlescent stud buttons.
A rural week amongst cruddy cows
and stupid sheep in summer sun,
hot on fields of hay,
yet cool, beautifully cool, gloriously cool
in shadowed woods.

Around a spitting campfire,
crackling on parents’ night,
we sing Kumbayah to bemused
faces feasting on fish cakes with bread
and butter, swilling
mugs of hot sweet tea.
Jen and I made five hundred fish cakes:

‘Ridiculous,’ mother says.
‘How fantastic!’ says Mrs Smithfield.

Fancy dress, the competition.
Girls in dirndl skirts as Heidi,
or Cinderella,
others as two halves of a horse
made of chequered blankets
– no pearl buttons –
Jen and I win as chimney sweep
and chimney.

Mrs Smithfield quietly slips
the blue lined pages
with a faint crackle
and an apologetic air,
to me.

Polly Robinson © 2014

Chimney sweep and chimney with cat Acknowledgement to www.dreamstime.com

Chimney Sweep and Chimney with Cat.
Acknowledgement to http://www.dreamstime.com



From an exercise in which we selected a first line from another poet, comes ‘Thanks’.


This is my second parking ticket since her affair;*
they belong to her,
I’ll send them with my thanks.

She will pay
in many ways,
as will he;
it’s meant to be.

Polly Robinson © 2014

*From ‘Notice’ by Jackie Kay


Arvon ‘The Story Line’ at The Hurst

A great week in Shropshire focussed on poetry – what a way to spend time. Wonderful surroundings, no internet or service for mobile phones, so a totally ‘cut off’ few days – very restful – and I even got some poems written! The Paper Maker appears in the post before this one :) But without further ado…the photos, by me unless otherwise stated. Click on an image to see larger photos in the gallery:



Here I Am…

…did you miss me? ;)

I’ve been away at The Hurst, on a wonderful Arvon course with ace poet Holly Magill. We had a fab time with tutors Patience Agbabi and Luke Kennard, and guest poet Katrina Naomi.
Here is a poem that came out of one of the sessions during which we discussed characters in poetry :)

The Paper Maker

Left, right, left, right,
quick march,
reams of paper,
white and starched.
Order restored,
all in place,
a gross for Mr Johnson
at the Poetry Place.

My name’s Charley,
Charley Waite,
‘course, they call me
Paper Waite,
the bloody kids
who want a job,
all through the summer.

They should be like me,
left school at fifteen,
did me no harm as you can see.
Stopping conscription
in nineteen sixty:
the worst thing that happened
for our kids.

Little shits,
graffiti-ing the mill.
I’ll give ‘em ‘summer job,’
they’ll get bugger all.
They can scrub
and clean
‘til those bricks
are pristine,

Left, right, left, right,
quick march,
reams of paper,
white and starched.
Order restored,
all in place,
a gross for Miss Chard
at the Post Office.

Polly Robinson © 2014

…and here are some marvellous photos courtesy of Richard Stephenson, all having a great time – click on the images to enlarge :)

Arvon poets at The Hurst 2014 - by Richard Stephenson

Arvon poets at The Hurst 2014 – by Richard Stephenson

Fun on the final night - by Richard Stephenson

Fun on the final night – by Richard Stephenson



Smoking Bastille

14th July – it’s Bastille Day. The perfect excuse – should you need one – to celebrate!

Smoking Bastille

The enlightened Voltaire
would have feasted, during
the storming of the Bastille,
he said, ‘Let us read…let us dance…’
Imprisoned twice,
he would delight,
eyes bright,
in the fall
of the smoking Bastille.
‘Storm the Bastille. Revolt!’

Fast forward to…
Gauloises Disque Bleu,
show-off smoking.
Gauloises Disque Bleu.
Prisoners of nicotine
storm their way through…

Echo Voltaire
in the Bastille,
Bruce Willis
in Die Hard.
Alain* so hooked
he enjoyed chemo
smoking Gauloises Disque Bleu.
Smoking Bastille.
Candid clouds of change.

Polly Robinson © 2014


The video is *Alain Bashung with the Pogues. Bashung is a famous French singer who was such a fan of Gauloises Disque Bleu, it’s said he refused to quit even during his chemotherapy.


Better Late Than Never – LitFest Photos

My promise to post Worcestershire Literary Festival photos has been on the back-burner as I’ve been a bit busy looking after a friend who broke her ankle while on hols.

Here is a gallery of photos taken at the LitFest 2014 – it should give you a flavour of the fabulous time we enjoyed :)

Click on the images to see them full size.


Tonight! A Perigee Moon

Perigee Moon

Fulsome, blowsy
closer to earth,
closer to man,
fuller and fatter
than the seas.
See her grave face
through the lens
of perigee,
think of the aeons
of this moon
and gravity
pulling higher tides,
the aim: diversity,
as the community
makes moon water.

Polly Robinson © 2014

With acknowledgement to: http://beforeitsnews.com

With acknowledgement to: http://beforeitsnews.com


Worcester’s Spider Bridge

A bridge revisited…

Worcester’s Spider Bridge

Summer walking, Worcester bridge,
we see a sight that makes us twitch.
Others stop and stand and stare
at spiders dancing. We’re not scared,
as they spin webs to catch insects
we watch and wonder, pay respects.

Hundreds, thousands, what a show,
our amazement grows and grows,
they cluster, muster round the lamps
busy making spider camps
on lights and pillars of river bridge
lined by trapped moth, fly and midge.

And big fat spiders.

We’ve never seen the like before,
not on hedge, hill, path or shore,
Did Charles see them when he was here?
Or Elgar get inspired by fear
of creepy critters spinning pretty
silvery webs in our city?

They not all fat, some are tiny
with stripy legs, they all look grimy;
weaving, weaving through the day.
We continue on our way
with photos for the memory.

Polly Robinson © 2014

Click on the images to see them full size :)


At The Well

Hylas and the Water Nymphs (Naiads), J. W. Waterhouse

Hylas and the Water Nymphs (Naiads), J. W. Waterhouse

Water nymphs we find at fountains,
bearded gods look down from mountains,
tales are told by ploughmen, townsmen,
cowmen talk of the stolen boy;
the gorgeous gilded golden boy,
at the well.

Roman naiads, water sprites,
approach the sleeping Hylas,
son of Heracles.
Nymph-like tresses fine as a frieze,
flow like water to the well,
they comb and primp to no avail,
we hear them cry, again they fail
and no waves swell.

They see the boy and speculate,
his crowning glory seals his fate.
He’s grasped by nymphs desirous,
made breathless by his shyness,
at the brightness
of the well.

The water sprites soliloquise:
‘What beauty in his hair and eyes.’
Entranced, they see and glorify
his unusual swirling curls.
Hylas falls fast in love,
at the well.

Heracles sought his special boy, or so the townsmen tell;
missed him, search after fruitless search, up hill, in dale and dell,
while the boy shares naiad power in the joy of love’s sweet spell,
the gods come down from the mountain
draw fresh cool water at the fountain,
at the well.

Polly Robinson © 2014


Amazing Haze

Shimmering, shivering, a fast-flowing river
of seedheads shine silver, purple;
the breeze blows hither and thither,
on seeds like souls who think they’ll go through purgatory
travelling from life to heaven or hell.
Be good, be extraordinary.

Polly Robinson © 2014

By uphilldowndale.wordpress.com

By uphilldowndale.wordpress.com


Mañana Seaside Days

An Anaphoric and Ekphrastic poem – painting by contemporary impressionist artist Leslie Stones.


Searching the Rock Pools Leslie Stones (www.lesliestones.co.uk)

Searching the Rock Pools Leslie Stones (www.lesliestones.co.uk)

Mañana Seaside Days

Seaside siblings and a crèche of cousins,
deckchair damsels dashing hopes of dozens,
countless crabby tickled toes a’paddling,

rock pools – splash! – soft sands in sunlight dazzling.
Scabby shins sprawl sandily, stickily,
toes touch, tease towel tents, torment trickily,

lulling listening, laughs linger lacily,
sunshine shimmers on sunhats racily,
gulls’ wings sigh while seashells gleam and glitter.

Seaside sunny days, hot, sparkling sitters.
Slosh, slosh shallows; shush shushing shingle hosts
mañana seaside days at Cornish coast.


Polly Robinson © 2012

Published in Girl’s Got Rhythm 2012 and 2014


Midsummer Solstice

by Io Osborn

by Io Osborn

She is Thalia, reads to Gaia, gestures,
rests on rock in sun on the windborne scent
of wild thyme, her shadow caught by Io.
Crags millions of years old
age around a smooth edged cave
carved out by man.
There was once a hawthorn tree called
‘Wishing Tree’ where the children danced
as a hermit bathed in a well to cure
his sore eyes.
A ravine, against the roots of an old
crabapple, holds a huge block of syenite,
said to be a site of rites.
All this she knows as she reads of swifts
swooping and dancing, sees eyes close
romancing and glancing at words
to celebrate the place in which they stay.
It’s midsummer – summer solstice.

Polly Robinson © 2013

This poem celebrates the solstice and was written following the Malvern Hills Midsummer Walk last year. This year we had a fabulous Midnight Moonlight Solstice Walk. In good company, we heard what we think were probably tawny owlets calling, saw glow worms, saw stars and were advised on the constellations by an expert in our midst (!) welcomed the solstice, drank wine, heard poetry and had a lovely time.


The Tale of the 6th Earl’s Wife

After Francis Cotes (1726-1770) Portrait of Maria Gunning, Countess of Coventry (1733-1760), Wife of the 6th Earl, after 1751

After Francis Cotes (1726-1770)
Portrait of Maria Gunning, Countess of Coventry (1733-1760), Wife of the 6th Earl, after 1751

The Tale of the 6th Earl’s Wife

Fragile rose silk, dainty,
pirouetted the ballroom floor,
her dance card was full and busy
the instant she walked through the door.

One, named George, paid attention,
thought her beauty beyond compare.
She blushed, her eyes on her pink ribboned shoes.
He swore that all dances they’d share.

The chandeliers shone and glittered,
brave smiling faces glowed,
young men in scarlet jackets and wigs,
young women’s dreams overflowed.

Croome, the seat of the Coventry’s
basked in the afternoon sun,
as Maria arrived in a carriage,
before the ball had begun.

Her dancing slippers were wrapped
in tissue, held in a frame,
she removed them from her valise.
Maria Gunning was her name.

The chandeliers shone and glittered,
brave smiling faces glowed,
young men in scarlet jackets and wigs,
young women’s dreams overflowed.

Her heart skipped and leapt
as she thought of her Earl;
of scarlet and black velvet bows.
He was darkly handsome, she a vain young girl.

When he came her way, she was queen for a day,
to become his Countess before long.
Pearls in hair, rose pink shoes on feet,
her celebrity fêted in song.

The chandeliers shone and glittered,
brave smiling faces glowed,
young men in scarlet jackets and wigs,
young women’s dreams overflowed.

At the height of the Georgian era
a lucent, whirlwind romance,
they were together for only 8 years,
that ball was a grand place to dance.

His black buckled shoes on the marbled floor
with the pink, the two made one whole.
‘Tis said it was all in the detail,
and they were soul to sole.

Why together no longer?
The tale is tragic to tell,
a lead based white face powder
sounded Maria’s death knell.

The chandeliers shone and glittered,
brave smiling faces glowed,
young men in scarlet jackets and wigs,
young women’s dreams overflowed.

Polly Robinson © 2014

For those who are interested in finding out more about Maria Gunning and her life, here’s a link to the main Croome site: Croome Court, Worcestershire

Adiós for now, dear friends, I’m off to help with Worcestershire Literary Festival for the next 10 days. Hope to see some of you there. If you’ve not heard about it, click the link: LitFest and get in the know!

Posted on dVerse Poets ‘Meeting the Bar’


Dream On

Oh! I dream of the day I have my own home
maybe thatched, with roses around the door.
It’s up a sandy, sheltered lane, with a path of loam
soft under my naked feet: a yielding, moving floor.

I have time to write, I have time to stare,
no demands and no choices to make.
Time for nothing, to go nowhere.
No emails, no letters, no time for fakes.

I think of what I have now,
and will let go for my dreams of the future.
A home of my own, a salve to my brow.
It’s a long time coming; I’m not a trooper.
I’m waiting to move, and how.

I don’t wish to journey my life away,
to a place I see in my dreams.
The place I’ll call home is where friends can stay.
It’s the place I’ll return to wherever I roam.
My home, my soon to be, home.

Polly Robinson © 2014

In response to Abhra’s prompt in dVerse poets Poetics : Around the world today – it’s the place for poets to visit, you will be glad you have.



If the English Oak is an immigrant from Spain
then, what does ‘native’ mean?
If the robin is an import from France
as per Georges Cuvier
who ‘created’ the genus
in 1800…
a chat,
an insectivorous bird
that catches flies.
From the Far East perhaps?
Yet Linnaeus of the 18th century
originally described the flyer.
How can this be?
If robin redbreast
hails from the 1400′s
and the Gran Canarian robin
goes back 2.3 million years.

What does ‘native’ mean?

Polly Robinson © 2014


The Old Dollop – an Englyn

The old dollop enjoys his jollop and
always talks lots of rot.
His hair is tied in a knot.
He wears shorts, sandals, blue socks.

Polly Robinson © 2014

This Celtic poetry form, the straight one-rhymed ‘englyn unodl union’ consists of four lines of ten, six, seven and seven syllables. The seventh, eighth or ninth syllable of the first line introduces the rhyme and this is repeated on the last syllable of the other three lines. The part of the first line after the rhyme alliterates with the first part of the second line.


A Prose Poem: Flower Growing in the Wrong Place

A soothing blue cumulus of cranesbill clusters beneath laurel, the petals grey veined, stretching for the sky under the sagely green canopy. Before such beauty there’s the sweet clingy stuff – the sticky burrs that blight dogs’ coats later in the year – and an empty bed with last year’s faded, crumbling woodchips, the scent lingers still. Look again, the bed is not so empty… a crumpled weed control membrane lurks partly hidden by compost, held down by red brick, butting up to decking. Silverly shining, a meshed pit shows off yellow ragwort on which cinnabar moth caterpillars’ chomp.

Polly Robinson © 2014

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars from www.glaucus.org.uk

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars from http://www.glaucus.org.uk




Formication… Itch

This is about an English word that is close to (if not an exact match with) the Ulwa word ‘yaputka’ which was claimed in an article I read to be a word with no English equivalent…

more bugsFormication… Itch

Au contraire!
Be aware!
Of an English word for yuputka,
an Ulwa word meaning the phantom sensation of some…thing,
on your skin.
on your skin.

Ulwa? You ask…
The language of around 400 people of Karawala,
in Nicaragua,
where snakes and lakes abound,
in the forest, and Karawala means ‘dry fish.’

But what of the English?
The word is Formication.
OK, so,
the Ulwa word somehow includes
reference to
walking in the woods at night,
in the pitch black darkness.
Whereas, the English, oh, the English word is clear as daylight,
confined to
that feeling of some…thing,
on or under your skin.
on or under your skin.

A medical term, specific to
a set of sensations called
Tactile hallucinations, of insects or bugs creep…ing,
on or under your skin.

Feel the itch.

A tingling, burning, pins and needles, kind of itchiness;
leads to twitchiness,
makes you sickly,
Caused, they say, by use of cocaine, amphetimines,

Crystal meth, aka,
and a side effect of prescription drugs.
Suffered by some during “power surges”,
(that’s to say,  menopause).
The list goes on… diabetic neuropathy,
diseases of the spinal cord and peripheral nerves, and
extreme alcohol withdrawal…
It’s a common yet illusory complaint,
which leads some to cut out the ‘worms’ with scissors.

Derived from formica, (Latin for ant),
this word is
Sufferers often get delusional parasitosis.
In extremis, people have ‘gathered’ the bugs
in matchboxes and demanded investigation.

Not to be confused with the English word in which ‘n’
is the fourth character.
The word is, formication. Some…thing,
on or under your skin.
on or under your skin.
creep…ing, creeping,
crawl…ing, crawling,
sprawl…ing, sprawling,
slimy slithering,
wriggling, wiggling, squiggling, tickling,
on or under your skin.

Polly Robinson © 2014


A Doug O’Harra photo


2nd Edition – Girl’s Got Rhythm

GGR BPP Front CoverThe second edition of my collection of poems Girl’s Got Rhythm is out. It has a gorgeous new cover, thank you Black Pear Press, and a different layout.

It was delightful to be given the opportunity to update Girl’s Got Rhythm, a collection of my poems first published 2012. Like many poets, as I read and re-read my work I can’t resist tinkering to improve them – it’s not often that I’d be bold enough to call a poem ‘finished’ – though as some will recognise, lots of them are finished as they form on the page.

I hope you enjoy reading my collection – it was wonderful when the first edition was published, and I’ve loved creating this revision.

It’s available here or from Amazon. See links below.

UK postage:btn_buynowCC_LGNon-UK postage: btn_buynowCC_LGeBook UK

eBook non-UK