Reversals of Fortune – two poems

Hi there,

I was in the mood to do some poetry and an idea came to me.  I thought I would just write down a list of words in a stream of consciousness way, almost like just plain word association. I planned to then use them to plan out a poem. When I started writing the words down, they went in a kind of pattern and, when I was finished, the shape reminded me of an infinity symbol.  I thought it would be fun to try and do the words in one order and then back in the opposite direction but I didn’t think the ideas were going to be linked.  You can see my scribbled words here.


I started writing this story of a woman in trouble and half way through I didn’t know how it was going to end.  I had confidence and I thought it was going to have a happy ending, then things got darker as I was writing it. When I went back in the opposite direction, I knew what I wanted.

Hope you enjoy them,


Gretchen and James

 Against the darkened snowy silence

Where it’s crisp beneath her feet

She is wrapped up, music buzzing

As she walks along the street


The rhyming lines distract her

Begging her to dance

But Gretchen’s angry with love’s dream

And what seemed like her last chance


Faces shrouded in breaths of mist

Traverse the icy paving

And as they pass her by one stranger

Looks at her with craving


Circling back he follows

Matching step for step his quarry

While music plays inside her head

And she goes on feeling sorry


At a crossing he advances

And scopes the way ahead

Sees the crowds are thinning out

The evening rush is dead


He turns, his bow-tie greeting her

As the path she chose is blocked

His boots crunch on the snowy ground

His eyes on her are locked


Combat begins upon the road

Tendril fingers grasp her sleeve

He pulls the music from her ears

As her chest begins to heave


Whispered threats are thunder

Hammered nails inside her mind

She scans the place for safety

For any face that’s kind


But all she sees are crooked teeth

Weathered pillars in her way

Arranged inside a concrete box

Her strength would never sway


Amidst her struggles somehow sees

A wooden crate in drifted snows

Water on its top did freeze

And a pallid picture shows


Her face looks so pathetic

Reflected there so clear

He’s seen her as an easy mark

Found nothing there to fear


But anger builds inside her

At that worried, whimpering face

She rages at his confidence

And stamps her foot in place


Her heel caves in soft tan suede

And cracks a bone below

He howls loud as ever one could

Clutching his shattered toe


Running toward the crowds of hope

She stumbles and she’s falling

The icy road betraying her

And in the slush she’s sprawling


His voice how far she cannot tell

She summons up her strength

For the throngs of people who’ll make her safe

Are away the street’s whole length


Angry grunts and vicious threats

Seek to penetrate her ears

His aptitude for hurt renewed

Her resolution clears


She won’t give in to awful fate

She’ll fight to get away

To reach for life and love and warmth

And see another day


His temper reaches out to her

Along the frozen path

Echoes pass her as she runs

And promise her his wrath


Stinging rain now falls on her

She stops beneath an awning

Banging on glass doorways

As the panic starts its spawning


For he is out of sight it seems

somewhere under the dark

Looming in her nightmare sense

A pitiless hunting shark


Out of thought there comes a pain

An ache at first she dreams

But wetness fills her now red hand

And that is when she screams


His claws are fastened tight on her

Ten fingers hold her life

This awful dance has ended

With her thrust upon his knife


James won’t listen to her hurt

His appetite is raw

Her voice fades out as he begins

And he’ll always crave some more


Against the darkened snowy silence

Her life so incomplete

watching raindrops in the light

As she’s dying on the street




 Silence in amongst the racks

The clothing hangs unsold

Poor business for another day

The shop aches with cold


Her mother’s voice inside her head

Reproachful through and through

“You’ve hurt your father,” echoes out

“Find a man who’ll look after you.”


But Polly’s edge was for a better life

And ten years she’s struggled on

Claws digging in as business fails

Pride an ache that won’t be gone


Stock laid out she can’t afford

Bills that loom unpaid

Under pressure from all sides

Nerves routinely freyed


In the doorway she turns the sign

From open round to closed

A painful survey of the snowy street

And her neighbours woes exposed


All around her feel the strain

The loss of all their trade

The fickle shoppers have left for good

She feels as though betrayed


She thinks about the awning

She should go out and roll it in

But the rain has started falling

And that keeps her there within


Just then she sees a girl pass by

And close behind a man

They’re off somewhere exciting

Lives going well to plan


Turning out the lights she turns

And walks into the back

Time to leave the day behind

And let it fade to black


Life moves on around her

No time to be morose

Lock up and walk home, she thinks

Her bed is cold but close


With fast improving temper

Her love for life returns

Despite the awful sales today

Her freedom still she earns


With new found resolution

Belief in aptitude

She finds her strength of character

Her passion is renewed


Falling behind is nothing new

To this business she began

She’s righted her listing boat before

And again she knows she can


Not broken then, but tired still

As ever she has been

She stamps her feet against the cold

And feels some warmth creep in


Into the basement she descends

The last few things to clear

Lost in music as she works

Eager for home so near


The frigid air surprises

As she steps out to the night

Key scraping breaks the silence

Beneath the solitary street light


No snow remains upon the steps

Alone scant cause for hesitation

Yet a wooden crate sits overturned

Amid signs of some commotion


Beside the box a crooked shape

Splayed out across the ground

A woman it is who lies there still

Shallow breaths her only sound


Polly gazes down on her

Frozen in her place

Surveys dishevelled clothing

And several broken nails


Hammered to the ground

By some unnatural force

Struck by thunder then left

For death to take its course


Threadlike tendrils of life remain

Despite the combat brutal

As blood drains from ruptured veins

In effort that seems futile


Polly loosens the bow-tie

Binding victim’s hands

Stretched thin like worn out laces

Leaving angry bloodied brands


Her dance of life is fading fast

Gretchen there without a prayer

Blood-soaked lines across her face

Of tangled strands of hair


Buzzing thoughts in Polly’s mind

Breed safety after violence

Bring sirens then to Gretchen’s side

Stop her slipping into silence


Thanks for reading. You can see some more of my poetry here…

Light Gathers Around a Low Place – a poem

4 thoughts on “Reversals of Fortune – two poems

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