Tuesday, 30 October 2018



they do not see 
  out the back door 
in the back yard
the stone sheep 
or is it a flock of stones
that bleat the poem’s words
hoofing and sliding in the chicken shit
crowing on the fence

the spittled words hawked up
spat upon the palette 
trowelled as they dry
upon a line of thought
white sheets blowing on an island 
away in the outer somewhere
  windy       fresh

my sun-stroked mind swirls
as the page rears up like a banshee 
to drag the unready words
  not ready   not ready 

catatonic is my oeuvre
      set in lichen
upon the tombstone

who will gibber in the corner
clack-tongued in the dust
and call my words poetry

who will beat the railings 
  with stick words
all the way back 
to my childhood

Monday, 29 October 2018

The god of Kilvey Hill

The god of Kilvey Hill

School boys did, as school boys did then,
away hell leather to the heather hill
of a Kilvey hare raised and running 
from their lay in the grass where still be still.

And the boy leaps over scrubbed doorsteps,
reflecting Brasso brasses and more besides,
runs from the stone home, the coal smoke hanging,
past the slag tips shining black, and bloody more insides.

Going up the hill ‘like’, fast as Luther,
to pin his ways upon the sky.
To reach the engine shed, blue in briquettes, 
from what the buckets carried, and why,

his father had pencil drawn the old wires,
strung over their pulleys mighty high
upon the engine shed, and culvert tipping
all the slag of that’s why, that’s why

the tips have grown, but fail to conquer,
the pollen around his heather shoes,
deep and dusty fast as hares,
upward, upward, up he goes.

Past the football field, marsh as offside,
past the east fields barbed wire cows.
Past the two marshes cotton white in grasses,
with their bomb craters filled with water now.

Sedge edged and floating footsteps dare
peer pondweed downward at monster larvae,
eating our eyes out in its wondrous depths;
that German bombers kindly dropped awry.

Soaking in wet socks and hasty steps,
to walk the ‘Roman’ wall, from the half way,
to the windmill, wretched atop of Kilvey hill;
to drink the brouhaha across the bay.

There, see, Swansea docks, under Swansea bay,
Danygraig cemetery looking beyond eternity
at ships, and cranes, and docked trucks of coal;
he saw them all, laid out in time’s indemnity

at the edge of his schoolboy escapades;
skulduggery, above the drudgery, of the village
still in the valley beneath his feet, just there.
But his is not a pilgrimage,
but a biting off of the Atlantic air,
that burnishes wild in his curly hair.

If I could have escaped the valley
    just like him
then I would have probably died just there, 

but Kilvey led my errant footsteps
to the warm rocks sitting where
the toiling river carried trees out to sea,
and showed me the way right out of there.

Go on son, you can be a liver
of a life away from the furnaces,
from the railway coke’s grey despair.
See the freedom this view burnishes;
go there now upon this very air.

Just look to the lark sky, to the summit;
dare to dream to be just there;
and never look back to the pulpit
of the god of Kilvey pointing where,
your future stalwart rises in the east,
lays down calmly in the west, 
golden upon eternity 
upon your very own
la vie, 
         la mort,
                       la mer.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

the class radio in ‘59

the class radio in ‘59

"Bobby Shaftoe’s gone to sea,
silver buckles on his knee,
he’ll come home and marry me,
bonny Bobby Shaftoe"

Sang the school radio back in ‘59;
what did it all mean? Surely
the teacher played it for a reason?

It never occurred to me 
that he was having tea.
Now doesn’t that take the biscuit?

For I thought there was a corpus of thought 
(although the word corpus was unknown to me)
that we, in our poor school were not privy to,
this world across the buckled sea,
and we were afforded this peep, once a week,
of all the worlds across the sea,
that were far from me, 
and Bobby Shaftoe would never marry 
any of the girls in my class warfare.

I knew there was the sea of course,
we heard the ships hooters come over the hill
at New Year to drown out the factory hooters.
And we knew that the river, down there, 
ran into the sea. 
(Why didn’t it walk? - but I digress - again).

My uncles went to sea and brought back
exotic gifts for me, and so, I thought
I could be Bobby Shaftoe see, I could!
I could be Bobby Shaftoe see!

And maybe, we could sing like that singer
on the radio, in the corner of the classroom,
glowing as we giggled and wriggled 
in our rows of ability. But we giggled see
because everyone wanted to be
Bobby Shaftoe see; 
and the girls all wanted to be buckled 
to his silver buckles see? 
And the braking waters of the sea
did stir something deep
that was too deep for them
this side of puberty.
(But I digress - retune the radio)

Anyway, that’s what Bobby Shaftoe
meant to me,
when the teacher had his tea,
and the singer on the radio spoke to me.

       Now they use Ritalin you see,
              to stop them fidgeting.
   And Ritalin marries Ritalin;
                      and no one ever gets 
to see the rough sea;

where Bobby Shaftoe has finally buckled
under the weight of modernity.
The schools run from the rising tides.
The tsunami ships are dropped inshore, 
and ships are high and dry on the Arral sea.
Alas, no one will come home to marry me to
the tides of history. 

For no smartphone says
the truth these days. We are racing forward
on the bow wave of breaking history;
and cold, old Bobby Shaftoe blue,
lies deep beneath the iceberg you 
know is tarrying there ahead,
to marry the end
to the beginning 
of the this sad saga sea.

And ...

Will this wobbly shaft of woe,
  Will this buckled poem 
  come home from my ‘I see’
and marry my thoughts to thee?

Saturday, 27 October 2018

poetry on the 3A

poetry on the 3A

poetry puts a ring around me,
reading on my smartphone,
            reading on the bus;
brought by you, dear poets, to me
on twitter see? 
     on twitter!
no fuss to read and reflect
through my reflection, dark on the wet 
window, the wine red grapes of night,
and all the chatter around me,
such languages that I don’t speak;
but the poet touches deep,
and my winsome smile over
  all their heads,
    the passengers, 
      in the seats,
draws the scarf of comfort,
even in discomfort, 
and I sigh and stare into the night,
and the bus burrs blank prose,
and the opening and closing doors
rhymes of all the timetabled times 
between me and a heaven 
full of your lonely words.

      don’t press the bell!
i’ll ride them all the way to hell
         and back again.


autumn’s stalking
                              just like a cat
pounces on winter

                              and that’s that

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Those village evenings of youth

Those village evenings of youth 

Christmas in the stone-walled village
was yellow lamp light and empty night streets
between the valley of the chapel and the
hill of the pub, bright and murmuring.

My salve lime mouth-watering ways
alongside the slide side of the boys
who trod in unison through the night
of thin beer full of moonshine and, beyond 
finger tips, the girls who gathered gossip.

Not a door opened;
no light spilled in goodbye or welcome;
and what lingered on the quiet waiting
night, never did the village speak of it;

so we said "see you tomorrow" 
and free of sorrow of the day we
walked to our firesides and toasted
the bread and butter
of a rancid furrow.

A teeth-on-edge swallow, that
lasted for I know not how long;
and now on the other side, and
distant, I gag upon a tear,
and linger over the taste of
a youth gone waste.

Do I shiver at the scalpel that
will decapitate my youth;
or the rusty nails that bleed
in sanguinity as they exsanguinate the
feelings that should be left to 
drain into the coarse sands of youth.
However pallid the patina
on the silver days appears to be,
is it all the false heartache?
A delusion, that I cannot
return to to ask: did we?
Did I?




we are (are we not?) living in strange times.
we know these days are strange
because the internet shows us
the old days, the future days, and
all our today’s across the world,
that differ in strange ways;
and the ways that these ways 
overlap or intrude is strange,
in a way (are they not?).
strange to be saying this on
the internet of ways, to 
readers who read in so many ways,
in so many places, where they 
are lucky / unlucky - depending 
on the way in which you, in your
way see it.
anxiety spreads so fast
along the feedback loop of 
tweets and retweets, that 
despair might drown all hope
on this Möbius curve.
except the beacons that blaze
in the annealing winds. So
let the poetry of hope burn bright,
may the ash of despair feed
the fields of Elysium,
so that the shoots of hope grow, 
and the entwined butterflies 
extricate themselves from the web,
to burn up in the sun.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018



paint me in words
abstract words that
run down the canvas
onto the floor
of the gallery of my life
that you have chucked (not)
whose tears are mixed with the paint
                yours or mine
can make sense of me 
making sense of me to you
to make sense in the sculpted words 
that will take "them" by the hand 
and demand they look
       look  look      see
see me in your frameless miles
smash the xylophone tones and
spew them across the words and paint
and sound so that the colour atones
to set my bite permanent

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

go on - down you go

go on - down you go

every envy afire in the sunset sky,
falls into the hole, the dread of night.
every promised kiss by the moonlight, 
puckered across the panting sea; is a lie. 

the blood of autumn in vixen enthral
with the tears of the north wind,
will move the poet in us all
to write in awe of that mighty mind,

that did the first light leave behind,
to guide us back to heaven help us now;
for when the celestial lights are so declined
with the light sky dying in the westward, oh

then will empty socket eyes look down and turn
away to the long stones of the cold homestead, 
for what poor wages the words did earn,
are sherbet stung; exsanguinated, bled

white and ghoul-ward down upon our knees;
to pray for sleep and to dream perchance,
of the ritual of this habitual happenstance,
for what else could spin such lies as these?

Monday, 22 October 2018

and now?

       Just followed "Unearthed" @UE

"Greenpeace‘s investigative journalism"

about the brittle world of you and me.

and now?

romantic poetics is dead for me,
and, unless we sort this, so are we.

how can I write as a candle bright,
when it is smoking, snuffed?
how can it be right
to dream of the "halcyon days",
the "golden uplands", the "salad days"?
when the end creeps nearer, and nearer,
and @UE spells it out for you and me;
and we try (yes, we do try) but to no avail,
so we vesiculate in death’s travail.

the war poets wrote of the insanity of war,
but they fought it, for
some would survive to read their words;
but who will read my liturgy of dirge?
for as far as i can see
this is going to be the end of me,
and you, and all but a few
organisms that will ride the evolutionary rollercoaster,
and then ... 
            well that does not matter 
to you and me,
for we will have ceased to be.

so how can i write like the romantic poets?
but then again,
why should i write like a prophet of doom?
when the words rattle in my mind, i owe it
to them alone, to lay them gently down upon the page,
as rigid as dried tears curling on the burning parchment 
the lemon tears of mother beast
hovering over her unmoving child, 
in a world of "woe is me".

it just does not do it! does it?
these words, they don’t, do they?
"no more glad confident mornings again".
the words decompose the orbit 
of yin and yang,
decompose into an obituary for words. 

what devil’s conundrum is this?