Poem: Celtic Call

Beck, Barbara, b.c.1927; Pant-y-Goitre Bridge over the River Usk

Rapid runs the river Usk,
Snaking into serpent’s foam,
Divesting self of scaly husk
And pained dragon bone

Swallow well the windswept grass,
Jesting through greenacre jaws,
Pushing through the private pass;
Last eve of earthly laws

Now knight the nape of darkening sky,
The loss of life we leave,
Callous crush of clawing cry
Gives back the green we grieve


Poem: Welsh Daydream


Terse old house,
An entomologist’s empire,
Tucked in-between hard knuckles of earth,
Kneaded by the hands of canyon-making disasters,
Where woodlice weevil between geological strata
Of carpet, aching for rotwood to feed their tummies,
Guests, sedate, upon electric blankets

They come into the cold,
To escape the cold,
The romanticism of hearth-warmed discomfort,
And the jellied-legs of walkers reduced to pinewood

I will see you then,
Out among the rubble of king-marked graves,
When all you needed was a good blanket of mist,
To declare a few mountains an empire

In the Wales of old daydream,
To The Grey King’s nightmare,
Knitting his beard,
Into the fog’s kingdom


Poem: Thoth, My Cariad


Ancient Egypt in Wales,

Pyramids and ziggurats still punctuate

The Brecon Beacons, coursing down those

Hieroglyphic Pathways

Pharaohs tie themselves to trees.

Their subjects lacerate them with

Holly leaves – bleeding into ecstatic


This is an initiation.


They get carried down, deep underground;

Unmade caverns of coal, as yet unmined,

Anubis and Osiris descend with pick and

Shovel, elbowing out the dwarves and

Dark elves, resenting this mythological



“Ah, Thoth, my Cariad, my sweet baboon!

Shall I gouge out your eyes with Welsh love spoon?

Or ply you with pennywhistle until your sphinxian

Heart riddles me no more?

“I am lost in cobwebs and palisades.

I am worried about my figure. Do you

Still think I look svelte in this sarcophagus?

Or is that limestone fresco just not as flattering

As it used to be?”

I take up my reed – prepare to write:

I Am the great scrivener of these Holy Wells –

Scarcely able to uplift a pale of water without

Severed heads fortifying it with thought – these

Celts are a weird bunch. I wonder what I’ll have

For lunch? Roast Boar? – Crocodile steaks from

The Lands of Thebes? How I miss your sautéed



Of course, all the place names will have to change.

How about Abydosgavenny? Camelot and Cairo can

Couple into landmass progeny. And The Old God of

Oak will build a canal between The Thames and The

Nile, so we can keep the mercantilism of myth



The owls are hooting now.

The bats are roosting now.

The sun is flaring now.

The mountain hares are burrowing now,

Struck by the moon – transfixed by that

Lunar striptease, of Nephthys waxing into Isis –

Isis waning to Nephthys.


Abydosgavenny – Abydosgavenny –

Will the swollen Nile keep the Normans

Out – their cankers like castles – hoarfrost

On the waves – cold winds blowing through

Empty Tombs.

But the sky is still here.

We still have stars to aspire to.

And, on a bed of lapis lazuli wind,

We’ll sleep into The Valley of Kings,

Until Horus returns from Avalon,

With proud King Arthur at his side