For a long time and increasingly, I have been overwhelmed by my own inadequacies and failings. A futile and hypocritical position given I’m seemingly incapable of overcoming them, but there we are.

The small neighbourhood in which I live is not a microcosm of the city or region as a whole but a place where each member of the community is a success and succeeding in life. They are kind and confident, focussed and competent. It makes moving about amongst them hard when you know you don’t measure up and that they don’t carry any darkness with them.

I am a daydreamer and drawn to places where the rocks and wind seem to speak clearer than the voices of society. Feeble escapism I know, but I’m not the only one.

I’m fascinated by the role of the landscape in history and prehistory. Its high and inaccessible places were sites of ritual of retreat- take for example the habit (pardon the pun) of early Celtic monks eke-ing out materially meagre but spiritually robust lives atop mountains or on wave-bound islands.

This poem is, on the surface, about a Welsh mountain- a small one that barely deserves the title mountain, but it’s prominence in the landscape was a draw for prehistoric communities and Dark Age Christian spiritual pioneers alike. For want of a better idea I called it ‘Mountain’.


Thorn tree faces down the flinty stare

Of a Welsh Winter’s sky. Last year’s berries,

Boon for raven and crow, cut to black

In a wind of frosted knives:

Last year’s blossom, last season’s bounty;

They cannot last.

Take sustenance instead from the rocks,

From this tower of gale-bound silence.

Like the Saint who knew to rest his strange cap

On the bare-boned high places, and build a wall

Against the worst of the whirling air

With chinks enough for the cold to cleanse,

Exhilarate, enlighten. The thorn,

Blasted to its essence, worn to the shape of  storms;

It’s strength is its scarcity,

it’s magic rooted in centuries.

I want to retreat to the eirie,

To run to the heights. To be rock,

To be mountain, to be wild,

To be still.


Polly Oliver 2018




Shine – a Haiku

Cliched as it may sound this Haiku about mindful awareness of breathing in the present moment genuinely came to me in my Tuesday evening yoga class- testament to my amazing teacher Rachel Parkyn, a true guru! Here goes:


Now breathes into now;

Each moment a shining bead

Strung on strands of life.


~Polly Oliver (2018)



I’ve been flitting around this planet getting distracted by the smallest thing for long enough now to know i will never be a knuckle down and produce a world-shattering great work kind of writer. Poetry, flash fiction, Haiku etc take the thoughts, images, emotions and phrases bumping about in my brain and give me somewhere to put them, for better or worse.

We all have our triggers; visual, emotional, literary, landscape. Recently I have been enjoying responding to an assortment of people on Twitter who post writing prompts such as an image or a concept and reading the responses of other strangers who felt compelled to create. Egalitarian, refreshing and inspiring.

Some time ago I wrote a poem on this blog prompted by my excitement at receiving a print of a painting by Cornish artist Jo March (not she of Little Women fame). A lot of her work is a beautiful response to the rolling yet rugged, myth-filled Cornish landscape, fertil ewith secrets and history. You can see some of it here.

This poem was a response to some of that work and love, quest, myth and time are also twined in its lines.



Through wet-silver’d lanes

arc’d over with green

deep as myth you rode

under flying moon and pale sun-

rinsed pure and meek

by the adolescent year’s flurries.

The dough-soft hills of your kingdom-

whispering land startled awake-

rolled away under thudding black hooves

driven on by your urgent legs.

But how you wished instead

you could ride astride raven or hawk

whose route would not be thwarted

by the twists in ancient lanes

or sudden bends in old ways;

but direct as a feather-tipped dart

taking you and your love to the waiting heart

of the flower-cheeked one you loved before

your days flowed apart

carrying dreams to unplanned shores.

But you, beloved, stare down the dark,

riding with fury against the push of Time,

That rolls boulders to pebbles which lie

silent in the endless wash of tides.





Thin Place

Here there are no clear lines-

then is now, now is then; dead, alive,

that world and this. All wrapped in the hiss

of heather and gorse, dun in secret moorland light,

under the West-wet clamour of a Celtic wind

and lead-lidded sky.




Polly Oliver (2018)

-image courtesy of the Caithness Broch Project

December mood

Blossom in the dark short days-

A frightful thing, a poisoned month.

Crow sits blackly silent on a rain-blacked branch

Sentinel to the end of things.

At the unheard signal

He flaps through drizzle-dense air,

Fades into the grey of death of day.


Gone-over Christmas lights blink ersatz cheer

Into exhausted, exhaust-filled dusk.

Glitter and plastic limbs of cast-off toys adorn

The scum awash on toxin-laced waves

That lap a broken shore.



The Collector


Pebbles, leaves, feathers, seeds-

I collect them as I claim the passing ground,

Step by aimless step, wandering down

Grey days and un-anchored weeks.

Each fragment of Nature’s perfect imperfection

A squinted reflection of a cosmic masterpiece

That I’ll study then store in my museum mind-

Every facet is filed and archived

To the crypt-ish whiff of unvisited dark.



I should spend this eternity hunting your heart;

Sheared apart when my sin hit so hard.

But its rainbow splinters embedded themselves

In the farthest walls of the Universe,

And they glint there in the light

Of the loveliest stars.