Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Daddy

<Audio>

When my nose peeped out
upon an iced window morning,
dark upon the lake of night,
when nothing would bid me;
he was downstairs 
kindling the cinders,
lighting the fire of the day. 

I lay floating on the nice it is ness.

My “please?” brought toast,
the thick butterness of toast,
and crumbs!
For he has left for work,
and only the door said goodbye.
The hobnail boots crunched away
into the darkness of a somewhere,
until sundown sold him back to me.

His heart wrapped my world as I
settled back to sleep up the sun
of little boy’s nursery rhymes,
of my water-coloured tiny steps
and wide appealing eyes,
tight curls of longing,
for my daddy,
longing for my daddy to return.

To be swept up in his arms,
enchanted by the smell of work.
A hug and a kiss,
how I will remember this.

When our aches swop places.

Walking the plank of childhood 
I knew, even then, that someday,
someday,
not that far away,
his day would turn to night,
and my night would turn to day,
and I would butter the toast.






Monday, 11 December 2017

Winter solstice

Sundial building to full speed,
spinning on solstice ice,
whoops,
over the edge of the year.
For all the good intentions
- yes indeed -
of mortal men and mice,
never will they suffice,
or last when summer’s here.

1967

Washing in a bowl in front of the fire;
actually, a chair without a back.
Freezing outside.
The Monkees singing on the radio.
Putting on my “smart” suit.
Meeting the boys.
We’re going down town
to meet our future
the other side of the sixties.


Friday, 8 December 2017

The sea swimmer in winter

<Audio>

Beyond the breeze,
under the winter sun,
the sea is calling me,
  calling me,
    calling me.
Seething in the breath,
of the north wind’s spume,
in the push and pull of the tides.
That’s where my secret abides.

The blue jelly fish have pulled back
to where the cormorant stands on end.
As a grey seal bobs with ebony eyes,
and the snows press down the bay.
My knees compose some purple prose,
that will last me through the day.

Harder the winter,
larger the spring in my step,
where I see, in the icy briny,
that perennial phoenix of spring.
That frisson of flight,
born in the glassy might
of the quenching, churning tides.

Baptised, reborn, each shingle day,
in my way, in my bay, away
in the dappled waves of my sea,
my sea, 
  my sea, 
    my sea.
Away in the dappled waves of my sea,
  my sea.

When I am dried by the sun and wind,
then, only then, am I alive.
As alive as live can be.
  Alive as the roaring sea.
    Alive as a swimmer in winter.
In the sea where he’s meant be.

In the sea where he’s meant be.


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Swansea, bloody Swansea!

In the guts of Swansea, under the station line,
there's a white tiled subway that smells of urine.
Graffiti souls screech down from the walls,
"shit to you all" inaudibly, yet desperately calls.

When you alight from the train, as "all change" is called,
and walk down High street, you will be sadly appalled.
Ponder the oxymoron of Elysium's elegant tiles,
that are pigeon defecated and vomit defiled.

High street’s elegant staccato facades,
are ageing, ageless, in winsome brocades.
Whilst the lower floor extractions are filled against rot
in sell-all cheap shops or similar grot. 

Yes, there are post-modern, arty, Phoenix attempts,
to create pastel, architect-less, nauseating tenements.
Or the artisan artists living out bids
to bring art to the struggling fag couples with kids.

Behind High street, Castle street, and post-war curse,
the Strand is redeveloping a parallel universe.
Emperor's new clothes, for avant garde young things,
who look out over more deluded avant garde blings.

But drowning out our voices, our every thought,
in Castle gardens sits a giant TV, expensively bought.
Gardens? What a concrete, televised joke,
the grass roses of old were never bespoke.

Whirligig beetles, the scouring machines,
sucking up gum and even more obscenes.
When the fountains are vandal dyed bloody and red,
is the age of tranquility finally dead?

Pub after pub in their mercantile mire, 
dressed in Wind street old banks' elegant attire.
Mini-skirted mutton dressed up as lambs,
to the slaughter of alcohol arm in arm madams.

Late night brouhaha slumped in the gutter,
shhnott drunk shee, arms around us mutter.
As the neon rain soaks the poor old dears,
their mascara runs tragic in hysterical tears.

St Mary's church is now selling cakes and teas,
in the graveyard - "that's the vicars parking place please!"
As the evangelists at the kerbside microphone good news
in the church there are rows upon rows of empty pews.

The statue of Old Nick wooden and red 
leers down on the lingerie sexshop ready for bed.
The pong from the soap shop is lurid on air
that fights inelegantly with fag smoke everywhere.

The "art" on the black wall says "more poetry needed"
but with not one word of graffiti has anyone pleaded,
that the perfumeries piled up in the department stores,
take just one look at this turgid town of ours.

Dylan would surely turn in his grave
that his "ugly, lovely" town is simply ugly not brave.
Shopping soulless in bustle, in a pestle and mortar, 
they have been ground down like pigs away to their slaughter.

Car parks and car parks, over here, over there,
on pavements, in churchyards, there are cars everywhere.
The Kingsway has abdicated to wed a motorway 
with central reservations that say “pedestrians no way!”

Wheelie bins and wheelie bins on streets overflow,
that lead to the guildhall's painted fingernail on show.
Virginal white the clock tower condescendingly regales 
a pastiche of people, in this second city of Wales.

Funny old Fynone so grand you have been,
tucked up behind Walter road and often unseen.
Mansion houses and broadways and smart little park,
cravat and bow tie where dogs on leads bark.

What Swansea had been Fynone displays
with an aching nostalgia for the grand old days.
In Cwmdonkin park Dylan sings in his chains
and rattles in his grave as anarchy reigns.

Roll down the hillside to genteel Brynmill
now a university dormitory for students. Brill!
Walk through the senescent park, its motor boat gone, 
and the menagerie cages so forlorn, so forlorn.

Parks with cycles that are going too fast,
with no park keeper to ring the bell at last
call to vacate and sleep down the tumultuous day,
of a childhood adventure along Swansea bay.

Walled around with hills and a valley escape
Swansea prods inland in a sou'wester cape.
Raining in grand sheets drawn across Penlan
they collapse on the Tawe and its villages in van.

SA1 appears not to be fun,
built it seems for everyone / no one.
Icing coloured apartments, one upon another,
the docking for shipping gone, brother oh brother!

Marina views from more tired apartment’s ambition,
sighs at the well-oiled flotsam detrition,
that stabs their idealized real-estate brochure,
finally lancing their expensive, sartorial composure.

But in the sea at Langland there is a saving grace,
of a swimmer in the winter with the wind in his face.
Away from the bustle of a Swansea forlorn,
a poet can forgive – for a new way is born.




Monday, 4 December 2017

Potter’s bus

It was Potter’s bus, with coal miner’s dust,
 that took us to the fair.
Shiny, threadbare, hardly-seats,
 we thump-bumped mal de mer.

White-knuckled hands,
 the promise of stares in focus.
We’re there! We're there! The wide-eyed looks.
 Now for some raucous, hocus-pocus!



La mort en mer

A dead young seal upon the beach. 
  A grey cadaver of sadness. 
A discarded bag of moonbeams.
  A turgid, sand-teared, madness.

  I can still see it lying there.
I can still see its empty eyes.
  La mort en mer.
La mort beneath sea skies.





Thursday, 30 November 2017

In absentia

<Audio>

The vulval pages of an old book,
fingered in absentia.
Who has held these aged, dry pages?
Or fallen in love with these luscious words?
Spread the pages slowly and inhale deeply.
Smell the ghost of a chance encounter.
Close them around you and bury your face there.

Where are they now? The lovers of the words?
Where has this book been sitting for all the years?
The slight patina of rust age, truant upon the pages.
The slight tang of dried must.
The addiction of our séance is chilling.
The question is - why my question?
Why the obsessive evisceration of the lineage?
Wrestling with: who touched or kissed these pages?

The chase upon the tantalizing carousel of aroma.
Be it musk, or pipe smoke,
perfume or the ambivalence of petal pages,
borrowed for a time from time;
adding another layer to the ownership of dwelling,
where all the silences are bubbles of virtual knowing,
of the shared poetry of the souls who wrote, and read,
or annotated this book, deep asleep now, cheek to cheek.

The germinal emotion evinced by the prima facie
realisation that there were other hands who owned this book.
An a priori feeling for their knowledge of the words,
even as they were first laid down. The emotion
spawning membership of an exclusive ghoul of ghosts,
in thrall to those who have gone before,
who left these the olfactory clues.

Cry for them, and cry for yourself, for you will never know them,
even as you know of them, and, in this unrequited state,
read on and succumb to their seduction.
Inhale the heady fumes of a purblind consummation,
that post-coital torpor adrift in a dreamy conception.
Your low smile at the birth of an understanding,
that a book of poetry is lonely soul,
reaching beyond its many unrequited loves.
Reaching for you.

Yes, you are the one, my darling reader,
you are indeed the one.

Breath deeply of me as you turn my pages.

Anon anon

Terminal

This train ... is ... for ... the end of ... the world.

Change here for:

the outer darkness
the inner sanctum.

You terminate here.

All change. All change.

The moth and the moon

The moth in my hand stopped,
chained by the dust on my fingers.
Its fluttering receding with the moon,
that it will never chase again.
The dust is mine,
but the prized moth,
that I thought was within my grasp,
is now the moth and moon of a tragedy. 
Forgive me.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Restless madame muse

Roll and random the grating pebbles of my mind,
oh rip-roaring madame sea, our swim each day.
In your perennial churning tides I find,
my restless muse, that your whispered words say
what you discern deep in the depths of me.
When you release me to the biting winter wind,
and when the sun sighs that I am free,
only then can I write my poetry, 
and for all eternity you see.

Draw the storm clouds down into the bay,
spill the pearl gull necklace 
upon your wildest spume.
The aberrant gold of light upon my face,
to have and to hold, to know what I assume,
that there is no other way
for me to explain the coma that is life,
to grasp where the words come from.

Madame mystery sea,
I am now your slave.
But is it just a wet dream,
that you will ever be my mistress?


Thursday, 23 November 2017

Interview on Radio Wales

Catch up radio - interviews start at 34:50 with mentions of Jim the Swim and my piece chatting to Jason Phelps starts from 42:00 after a song by Tom Jones

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09fmx5l




Picture by Sue Young

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

autumn before a Christmas eve

a low monochrome of light lay on
dusk blown fasciculating leaves
descant and rustling in homage
to each russet leaf
each snowflake’s hope
  for a christmas card
    in the lantern light
      of a mince pie carol boy
 on the night of
                       Christmas eve

a low mosaic of might be lay on
santa dreams in fantasy and please
descant and trembling in homage
to each trusted belief
each delicate hope
  for a divine shard
      in the moonlit night
        often evinced in feral joy
 on the morning of
                            Christmas day

Monday, 20 November 2017

The Hospice of Autumn

Bedside in the hospice of Autumn.
Late sad flowers hang on the last breath.
The russet leaves of an exfoliating cadaver 
float down upon a frosty quilted sorrow.
That crushed ice sparkle of Spring, 
tight in hope of buds,
a dream.
Sleep now my lovely,
for Autumn has passed away.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

It’s for the best

It was her grieving for dad
that brought the doctor.
Guilt at the death of your cariad.
Me? I’m just an interlocutor. 

It’s for the best.

The psychiatrist said they might
be able to fix the depression,
no, no, the anxiety, right?
Alas not both. So try the medication.

It’s for the best.

At the threshold of the ward
you were smitten by the stigma.
Frozen to the spot. Statue hard.
I pushed gently, “Come on, it’s OK Ma”.

It’s for the best.

For weeks the anxiety was a tragic comedy.
You did not want to be there.
“Take me home” an aching tragedy.
“You’ll be better soon”. “There, there”.

It’s for the best.

Side effects, so the district general.
The mad lady calling in the far end bed.
Different pills, joint and several.
“I wish I was dead!”. “Shush now”.

It’s for the best.

Back in the “mad house” she said.
The pallor of another sad pill.
Our hearts bled.
She did not deserve this. Still,

It’s for the best.

Weaker and weaker, week by week.
Rattling between each hospital.
Growling now, unable to speak.
The care, ever so gently regimental.

It’s for the best.

A bed blocker, so,
if it’s OK with you, then we suggest
a geriatric bed, more
suited, and then the quietness.

It’s for the best.

A wraith now, with a patch
of morphia, fast asleep.
Then the sangfroid all-night watch.
The last appointment so to keep.

It’s for the best.

The last breath we did not miss.
Then the wait. For another that did not come.
The warm, cold and final kiss.
Goodbye mum.

It’s time to rest.

Friday, 17 November 2017

poetry in emotion

by the emotions engendered in a poem 
everyone will surely know
that what they thought
they did not know 
they know now
that they had known that
and that they had known that all along
poems engender emotions don't you know


Thursday, 16 November 2017

seasons

autumn battens down for winter
even as it eyes the spring
summer reborn in spring
even as it falls for autumn
with winter in its eyes

childhood years of wonder
wonder if life will ever end
end in old age then remember
that the ember of youth is dead

seasons the very spice of life
since the ticking of time began

Monday, 13 November 2017

Man and boy

I am going to kiss them he said. And he did. And I did. Didn’t we? Oh, I could go on and on, but the time warp is closing. Why? Because it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for you. It doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t work. You kiss your girls
and mine will kiss me. 60 years apart

Come

If a poem has a lock, then bid it depart.
Do not fumble over the combination
of words that might drop the tumblers.
No.
Embrace the poem that unlocks your heart,
that bids you enter,
"come on in, no need to knock".
Sit with them long into the night,
in tock with the grandfather clock,
quickening the remember embers,
so that when they flare,
you may lock them in your heart,
the words the key upon a look.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The village in 1950

<Audio>

The village remembered, of moon and sun,
of pulpit and pub. Trains that pass in the night.
Saddle tanks that rape the whistle darkness,
below the running sores that gutter
the white guts out of the fox-stoled village.

Firemen, soaked in red sweat, shovel coal
into the boilers on the single line,
released by the signal box key,
handed, signal man to driver, pouched and shining.
Sliding along the frosty rails between
Dante’s cupolas, belching and flickering
under the pulse of clouds. Tall chimney fingers
that claw at the coke sky. The sulphur,
the sulphur, the colour of old men’s phlegm.

The pub men, dart-shadowed on the window,
or in silhouette, busting their way to the outside privy,
their pint-sized thoughts running one handed, 
down the stalls, 
groaned in deep breaths down the walls of their valley.
The morning, through the bottom of their glasses,
glows far away, sad upon their laughter.
The raucous goodnights to bed,
until their work boots beat the wet pavements of dawn. 
The dusk pubs, the light at the end of their tunnel vision,
a thirst throughout the day, today and every day.

The classroom children flutter, and leave the sun
to wander the empty slag-stoned streets,
the cobbled soles of the village.
Polished on every doorstep by scarfed mothers
with pails full of gossip and knowing nods
of so and so, and so it goes, on and on.
Father, mother, daughter, son.
Chapel, church and pub.
The beauty of the beast,
that was my village in 1950.


Cat a tonic

the sun purring on my armchair
in the yogi of the morning
our secret moment
warm
I smooth you to slumber
and then I follow
as the sundials the day

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

the window pain

dark and stormy outside
bright and dry inside

outside the storm subsides
inside the dark tears well

again

to sting the pages
with the wheals of my words

dark and stormy inside
bright and dry outside

open the window wide
and let the thoughts reverberate 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

now is the winter

how a fresh snow sward
does cover thorns however hard
years of tears do atone
longing resurgent going home

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Penultimate month

Leaves litter our poetry,
at this time of year;
composting the mind.
Leave them there.
Spring is brooding.
Doesn’t take a poet to know it.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Mumbles yew is dead

<Audio>

Alas, the yew has been cut.
M&S must be built - no ifs or but!
So make way for concrete and cement.
The Mumbles yew? Its life is spent.

I did lament that this would be so.
I did protest that it should not go.
But although a Mumbles voice is oft down-trodden,
this soft red-berried yew will ne’er be forgotten.

And when, one day soon, you are in there shopping,
remember, beneath your feet its roots are rotting.
I am sure I saw British Legion blood,
raw and running from its trunk in flood,
yet no quarter for the past was given,
for with shopping now is our village riven.

Was there no architect on earth,
who could have saved this spreading girth?
Why did M&S not aspire to be green,
to be the greenest store you have ever seen?
And provided shopping under the old yew’s boughs,
its branches trimmed along with ours.

Oh yew, and you, know what it could have been,
if we had saved this part of the Mumbles scene.
But no, too late! It’s gone, that part of us.
But, other than me, did anyone kick up a fuss?
No! NO!

So, do you see me as a relic?
Well, slowly do we all become derelict.
Ah! You noticed that does not rhyme?
What a pity that’s all you notice of our time.
Who said “our roots are our branches”?
Not M&S, I would advance.
For our yew was given no second chance.

So, another tree excised from the lungs of life.
Into the heart of the village they have stuck a knife.
Who will dare lay the foundation stone?
And for the yew’s demise over the years atone.
Who will dare cut the celebration bands?
And have the yew’s blood upon their hands.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

R S Thomas

<Audio>

Why?
Because his words were the
candlelight in their tears,
the people of his years,
hardened in their land,
bowed under his dark sky,
he under his question, why?
Why am I still waiting
for His answer?
What is my place
in this, their place?
Forever on his knees he asked
again, and again,
why?
To which, I reply,
who else could? But

R S Thomas

Teddyboy

Here is a teddy boy,

drawn by my Freddy boy.

Are you ready boy?

Life ahoy! 


Grandpa.





Do you sea?

We embrace each day, out in the bay.
For there can be no other way,
to say - I love you deep sea.
Please, say that you love me.
Whisper it in the roar of your kisses.
But, alas, although I am your slave,
you will never be my mistress.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Chapel once the beatitude


<Audio>

Upon the going back
                                    to the village chapel,
that beatitude of old ladies,
their quiet reassurance
                                       of having pierced the veil,
for which the pub men in their smoke
                                                                   had not a laugh
not even for
                  the grace of the Sunday school teachers.
For they had grown away, as men do,
                                                           as we knew we would.
Must!

So.

We asked the deacon what is God?
And he said God is love.
We asked the deacon what is love.
And he said love is God.
Then we all walked away.

Now the chapel has a bramble collar,
a thorn crown, bleeding down upon its shoulder.
      Grass grown steps
                                      and a rusty handrail.
Windows of dry tears where the flaky paint
pricked as it snowed.

“No entry”
Cannot go inside – God forbid!
But the conspirator crack said look,
see the organ,
                        that cadaver white in a dusty shroud.
In a rictus of bared teeth, a sneer
      where once a wood stained veneer
reverberated to the hymns, and where
      cold bums sat hard,
             attending the sermons
                      with a wrinkled brow.

What now?
                    I saw a bird skull white upon a post.
What significance can a poet drag from that?
A child’s feral laugh at a sling shot trophy.
Probably. But still sinister in my dark thoughts.

                  Is that all this stone box is reduced to?
Even the pub has gone.
The angels and daemons have declared a truce.
Laughed at my pilgrimage to the locked doors.
My nails clawing at the plaster-shorn walls
of the hall where we laughed
at the absurdity of the Band of Hope,
                                                        even as we drank it in.

Oh, this bloody congealed dust,
the trespassers on our prayers,
our kicking and flailing at the jungle
of weeds that did fall on stony ground,
and yet have grown to choke the charity,
the swirling veils of the old ladies,
who held our hands
                                   in the snow-light walking home.

How can a chapel become deconsecrated?
Even on the cross the cry of “why?” was suffered.

I leave my shadow to keep watch over
my memories. To call me back should
any of the congregation return.
Piercing the veil – as they say.
To flow with spectral fingers pointing
                                                                   to the past.
Then I must and will return,
and on our knees
we will sublimate into the billowing dust
as our pasts go crumbling down.

Listen, listen!
                        They are singing in the Cymanfa Ganu.

Dear God, why did you let this chapel die?

Ask the deacon, why did you walk away?