Poem: The Severn

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Wind-blasted hawthorn, crude contender of The Severn,
Crisscrossing mudflats, groove-worn into neurons by sandy
Engravers, with power lines decussating to the relics of old
Power stations, curlew calls twist and spiral out of these
Reefs of landscape, reed beds never sleeping but always in
Motion

You do not need the ocean to be anything but ocean,
Binoculars can look back on themselves to be the obituaries
Of recently drowned tourists – but it needn’t be all so gothic-
Just give yourself up to the salt wind – no need to go through
The mediator of a first-born daughter, when motion and stillness
Are the shadows on horizons, that hemispherical line slicing
Eternity in finger sandwiches

No, there are no castles here – only things that will seem
Ancient in but a couple of years – history can rewrite itself
Every day in these fingers of sand – and the writer is the one
Who writes himself a journey he never planned

Then, coming into vision, accumula and strata non-dizzy
Out of the water, and my pen finds itself to be the etchings
On a wooden lighthouse – a tree carved out of itself to be as
Light-bearing as it really is: burn all your negatives, and
Photograph your own apotheosis – for this is the coming
Of the Future

 

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Poem: The Birds of Autumn

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Wind-blown maple keys whirligig through the air,
Whitebeam branches fall to the ground,
Piles of leaves rob the trees of their hair,
And migrating fieldfares erupt with sound

Filling autumn with the commotion of bush-exploding chatter,
Zipping from cypress, to yew, back to fir,
Oh, dearest birds, whatever can be the matter,
To make you whizz, bang, cluck, and chirr?

Is there something you feel that eludes human hearts?
A secret in the chill air that makes you come alive?
Flying all the way from farthest Scandinavia,
You come here to mate, thirst, frolic, and thrive

And I can relate to you, my darling thrushes,
For soon a little bird will be flying to me,
Who will whisper to me, softly, in the night’s autumnal hushes,
And enable me to feel happier than I ever thought I could be!

We too will go flying, swooping over meadow,
Preening each other’s feathers as we recline in the lea,
Snuggled up together as snuggest of bedfellows,
Perched close together in a horse chestnut tree

My passion, once flightless, can now take wing,
And my caresses and kisses are as starlings in the sky,
Though a troubadour, only to you do I sing
Of a heart now empowered to fly, fly, fly

To fly with you, to smell you, to feel your breath on my face,
And the ecstasy and comfort of knowing I am loved,
With you, I can find a paradise in the ugliest place,
Heaven in the rooftops, my Stebba, my beloved,

To be with you as a rook, as a jackdaw, as a crow,
To be a feathered thing – beak against beak –
To nuzzle in a nest – to know and be known,
To trickle with you, as water, down life’s placid creek

And still the maple keys whirligig through the air,
Still whitebeams branches fall to the ground,
But now our migrations bring us together,
And I hear your music in every soft sound

Poem: From Trump to Stump

donald-trump

Were you to cut-off the arms of Donald Trump
You could rename him ‘Donald Stump,’
Roll him around, fat and feeble,
Like an over-sized, presidential weeble

Reduced to only torso and tush,
No atomic red button could he push,
Yet with tongue still intact – his verbal diarrhoea
Will still cause chaos with North Korea

Oh, Stumpy, dearest, start no nuclear war!
It would be such a tedious, glowing-green bore!
I’d sooner see you as an amputee hobble
Than convert all the world into a new Chernobyl

So, Donald, darling, be the bigger man,
Kindly reduce your own lifespan,
With your imagination so apocalyptic,
Isn’t about time for your fit – apoplectic?

To rob you of your power – and leave us alone,
Without your bad breath poisoning our ozone,
And while you’re in your tongueless retirement,
We can see about the process of nuclear disarmament

For war is just the game of the misguidedly rich,
And if King Jong-un and you wish to beat eachother with sticks,
Please do it in privacy of your own sex dungeons,
Instead of getting us involved – you asinine curmudgeons!

But I’m sorry, Donnie, if I’ve hurt your feelings today,
Don’t rattle off another tweet – don’t lose your toupee!
We can resolve it over drinks, my dear darling Trump,
Once we’ve cut off your arms, and renamed you – ‘Donald Stump’

Poem: The Murder of Morrisons

cattle markets

A skeleton of steel looms in the dark,
In the old Cattle Market opposite Bailey Park,
From Market Place Rise, ‘tis a cancerous cathedral,
Not yet malignant, but still germinating evil

Oh, monster of homogeneity – cannot you remain
A jumble of ruins of which we cannot complain?
I look forward to when all our supermarkets, shabby,
Are as derelict and ivy-covered as our monasteries and abbeys

When aisles no longer peal with barcodes being scanned,
Those acres of tin-canned fecundity, sterile and bland,
Grow no more – unwanted Morrisons – superstore of the abyss,
Spread no more cells of your cancer’s metastasis!

But crawl back to the corporate cesspit from whence you came,
No more a blot upon Abergavenny’s humble fame,
Along with Subways and MacDonald’s – it’s enough to make you pop
At the endless proliferation of needless coffee shops!

And if The Sugarloaf were the volcano it was always meant to be,
I would pray for it to pour its lava all over thee,
And all those godforsaken, identity-robbing shops,
Would be imprisoned forever within gorgeous igneous rocks

The Rebekah Rioters will give each other high-fives,
And our small market town will as a market town thrive,
And Morrisons will be another dodo – another fossilized trilobite,
To help our archaeology professors get to sleep at night!

Poem: My Twin Brother

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It is true I died a long time ago,
But discontented with death, I found a way to renew,
Leaping out of the grave, I inscribed my own tomb,
Painted with the ink from a shaggy inkcap mushroom

As an imposter in this world, from churchyards I seldom strayed,
Without tombstones to bolster me, I affeared to be waylaid,
By life much too lively – not as sweet to me
As a flock of long-tailed tits in a dying Rowan tree

But when twilight deliquesces, I still sometimes creep,
To the grave where my twin brother does disingenuously sleep,
Kissing cheeks, and shaking hands, we take eachother’s places,
To test who can tell apart our living and dying faces

Poem: Skeletons In The Chapel

skeletons

Sipping wine in the back of the chapel,
The organ booms with apocalyptic rattle,
Blistering stained glass into people’s limbs,
And infecting our hearts with the strangest of whims

The clergy now are skeletons all,
Caught up in the organ’s thrall,
Raising hands, they jump up higher
To ascend the murky spire

And from this pulpit – seat of sky,
They embrace one other – say goodbye,
For theirs is not the time or place
To be anywhere but outer space

With Bach or stranger tunes undemurred,
They assault the galaxy as a herd,
Cattle grazing on the stars,
Filching lost moons in milkshake bars

Oh, Lord of Skeletons – Skeletons behold!
It is time for you to break the mould –
I have no use for bomb or abysm-
No impending earthly cataclysm

My name is tattooed inside a flower,
There is no antidote to love’s power,
Kiss me, hold me, sing out my praise,
Help me to live out the rest of my days

For in your blue eyes I can see,
A happiness locked inside of me,
And when in Bristol Harbour we’ll be found,
I will sleep without a sound

 

Poem: Holy Land

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Scatter my ashes in the woods,
No holier land conceiveth I,
No Jerusalem or Palestine,
Tibetan Lhasa or Himalayan sublime,

But the soil and water of the River Wye,
Are quite holy enough for me,
No desire for The Ganges nigh,
When I could have these valleys green,

And lose myself in Lady’s Park Wood,
The Little Doward’s limestone cliffs,
Or from Yat Rock espy the terrain,
Of Herefordshire rolling quick

And who will join me on these walks,
A pilgrim in this palace of trees,
Will give me love to keep me warm
In this everchange of nature’s confederacy?

I hope it will be you, my darling,
Who will be right foot to my left,
Who will be the inhale to my exhale
When I am struggling for more breath

But you enfold me, calm me, open me,
As a key unlocking latch of door,
Unto your glass, I will pour me,
Drain me, always search for more

In this quiet infinitude of man,
In this library of secrets, by crows surveyed,
You have the power to be my making,
And to be there when I am unmade

Unmade, yet never lost, not quite,
For there is a light under everything,
There is a song of whispering might,
That never loses its voice to sing

So, tree me, darling, branch me, leaf me,
Be the bark that ne’er will unsheathe me,
Be the Venus to my Mars,
Be the space between the stars

Be the rainfall on my lake,
Be the wine, my thirst to slake,
Be the building – be the stone –
Be the mansion I call my home

But most of all, my dear, be mine,
Be the needle on the pine,
Be the mountain, be the rills,
Be the hollows my mistiness fills

And, mysteriously, I’ll come down,
To be the thorn upon your crown,
To be the cells within your blood
Scattering my ashes in the wood

Sonnet: Love In The Making

Shelling by Night 1941 by Eric Ravilious 1903-1942

Pulling back the sable curtain of shade,
Unfolding happiness in the shadow of sorrow,
The theatre of light the mountains displays,
As I climb through the thickets of thorny tomorrows,
Searching the escarpments, the ridges, the plains,
Along river and canal bank, by raven’s call beckoned,
Wishing to surrender all the luxuries of pain,
Endured for years, days, minutes, and seconds,
I want to learn about you by kissing you,
To map out the seasons of your emotions and needs,
Desire puts the cartographer back into the blue,
To root out the affection on which our happiness feeds,
My heart is open – in your chosen room,
Waits love in the making – a kiss in the womb

 

Diary: Llangorse Lake & The Wyche Of The Reservoir

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King Kieron generously takes us on a short tour through The Brecon Beacons so my girlfriend can get a better impression of Wales’s scenery. First stop – Llangorse Lake. Mallards interspersed with barnyard ducks, Black Indian Runners, and a rare sighting of a mandarin. It looks too beautiful to live – the markings on its chest like an oriental bib. A reconstructed Iron Age Hut on stilts looks out onto The Crannog – an ancient, man-made island.
I pluck a wild mint leaf and feed it to Stebba. Purple-haired reeds conceal the motions of miniscule creatures. Chevron pathways are momentarily etched in the lake by water fleas. Mayflies, with eccentric curved antennae like arched eyebrows, mill about us. Their presence betokens the cleanliness of South Wales’ most ancient lake.
Rain comes without warning. The previously motionless water becomes a harvest of ripples, the visual equivalent of criss-crossing telegrams. How I would’ve loved to live here as an ancient prince, fish-fed, time unsped, living in verse to the languor of The Llyn, my nose a bedchamber for algae scents, forget-me-nots quilting me to sleep. Too soon we leave behind its willow pollards, and pied wagtail conspiracies at noon.
Back now, past conical mounts, hills that grows into witch’s breasts, over Llangynidr’s one-cart bridge, for tea at The Walnut Tree, to taste my first cup of green tea for months. Stebba samples her first Welsh Cake, yet happily, remains Swiss. She can leave the Celtic Melancholy to me! We ferry on past non-conformist chapels of corrugated tin to the tune of lovers jumping naked out of windows.
Talybont-On-Usk Reservoir. A chaffinch perches undaunted on the railing. The Reservoir reflects the sky and outlines of the valley that encircle it. Kieron reflects on the military exercises he used to do here, caustic runs through conifer plantations. A railway once ran over these hills, peopled with forts, Celtic and Roman.
While looking at tree-stump disguised as a standing stone through my binoculars, we are interrupted by The Wyche of The Reservoir – (abetted by her little dog) – who taps us on our collective shoulder, to relay us messages from the spirit world:
“The Poles are reversing – the seasons are out of order – the imprisonment of the enlightened is imminent – two-thirds of The World’s population will be slaughtered in a cataclysmic disaster – redwood roots sink as deep as their boughs – red kites are the sky’s implosion.”
She hands us all vivid blue stones, donations from the hills, and invites us all to receive her healing. Predictably, I am singled out as the one with the most latent spiritual power. We part ways, bundle back into the car, to sink into an evening of soup.

Poem: Limestone Dreams

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The limestone here seeps into your dreams,
Pebbles embedded in quartz-stricken seams,
You can fall into empty air where the peregrine flies,
And coppice your own thoughts until a new forest does rise

Then out of the enchantment of swarming gloom,
A bat creeps out of the netting and circles your room,
With omens and prophecies, relinquishing strange jewels,
Singing to you, oneirically, in inaudible mewls

But to her, you are as a thousand shards of a mirror,
A rookery of sounds – the netherest of nevers –
There is no spite – only a refreshment of feeling,
The parishioner plants kisses that are ripe for the stealing

These flowerbeds are not earthly, their colours betray
Tones that are not possible to see in the day,
Creeping slowly through them disguised as shimmering petals,
Green fingers of bracken – teeth of precious metals

With sapphire smiles, turquoise, magenta, and gold,
The most luxurious things to be so wretchedly old,
But the soil is their pardon, the only Bible they read
Is written in the language of wildflowers and weeds

With Green Men in pews, thoughts eroding to silver,
Nothing is as enigmatic as The Wye River,
And with weepers of autumn bringing their evensong chants,
I will reap of the kisses The Parishioner plants