Garcilasso

Garcilasso

“When I stand still and contemplate
the path that led me here.”

I see purple arrows
painted on the corridor floors
their sharp ends
pointing to the treatment room
where the machine’s stark metal throat
waits to swallow me.

I shed my Johnny Coat
and lie on the bed.
I mustn’t move
as they adjust me
tugging me this way and that,
in accordance with the red marks
painted on my belly and hips.

Then they raise my feet,
place them in a plastic holder,
cover me with a thin cotton sheet,
and leave the room to take refuge
in the safety of their concrete bunker.

With a click and a whirr,
the bed moves up and in,
the ceiling descends
and claustrophobia clutches.

The machine circulates
weaving its clockwork magic:
targeting each tumor, scrubbing me clean,
scouring my body, scarring my mind.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Garcilasso

Comment: It all happened a long time ago now, but one never forgets. The desire to reach out and help and comfort any and all sufferers is still with me. This is the link for my book, A Cancer Chronicle.

Joy

Joy

Such joy in small things:
a task finished,
the old month ended,
a new month begun.

Such joy in the acorn:
a thought planted in the mind
and gradually growing,
root, trunk, and branch.

Such joy in those first green shoots
thrusting up from dead-leaf mold
to renew themselves, reborn –
as this year’s hollyhocks.

Such joy in the surge of spring birds:
robins marching on the lawn,
passerines and song birds returning,
ducks and geese at ice’s edge.

Such joy to reach out,
to stand beneath leafing boughs,
to watch beauty’s youthful feet
how they can dance to cheer ageing eyes.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Joy

Ghosts

Ghosts

Who are they, these ghosts
who flit into our lives
and leave us foundering
in treacherous waters
as we search for
enlightenment and meaning?

Why do they return,
revenants, to disturb
our peace and quiet,
and to trouble our sleep.

Who are they?
So deep, so distant,
we no longer know them.
Memory’s fish-hook
cannot snag them,
cannot haul them
back into daylight reality
far from night’s net
of silvery dreams.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Ghosts

Comment: I read the poem out loud, copied it to Anchor and Spotify, then found I didn’t like the way it sounded. So, I rewrote it. That accounts for the difference between the sound recording and the revised written text. Fun and games.

Empty Nest

Empty Nest

X marks the spot
where the energy ran out,
the moment when the tide turned
and water ebbed instead of flowing.

A place… a time…the sudden scent
not of presence, but of absence.
The absence of movement,
noise, of that other body
that once walked the rooms,
floors, opening and shutting doors,
windows, a robin’s whistle,
a thrush’s trilled song…
gone now, gone, all gone.

We drift through silent sadness,
avoid each other’s eyes,
sit with our heads in our hands
or knit our fingers together
in desperate gestures
that express our emptiness,
the emptiness of an empty nest…

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Empty Nest

Star Struck

Star Struck

Last night, when least expected,
out of nowhere, a new star
and beyond it, the Red Planet.

Light fragments, disintegrates.
I grasp at snow flakes
as they stumble, falling stars
sliding down the sky.

I stretch out my hand
to grasp the magic of the moment,
but I cannot comprehend the mystery.

I shiver – knowing I must leave
the warmth of my bed,
my comfort zone,
to walk alone in cold and dark.


Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Star Struck


Gilt Trip

Gilt Trip

A walking gilt trip
and the woes of the journey
packed into the old kit bag
that bends your back
and weighs down your shoulders.

Take care lest you stumble,
for if you stumble
you will surely fall, and every fall
is a precipice that will never allow you
to get back up again.

Where is the stranger, the faceless one,
the as-yet-unknown one who will care
just because he cares and will help you
stand up once more on your own two feet?

Take root where you stand.
Plant your feet solidly into the ground.
The winds of change will blow,
but they will not topple you.

Raise your eyes to the sunrise.
Strive upwards, ever upwards,
turn towards the light,
that fragile lightness
of everlasting light.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
G
ilt Trip


Reflections

Reflections

What do we really see
when we look in the mirror?
Do we see our real selves
or do we see the sad distortions
of our diminishment?

The Fairground on the Recreation Field
in Swansea used to have a hall of mirrors.
You handed over your three-penny bit,
not the silver one your granny gave you
so you would have good luck always,
then you walk up the wooden stair,
and there you are, staring at yourself.

Fatter, thinner, shorter, taller,
a half-and-half version,
thinner at the top
and so much fatter at the bottom,
like those old Christmas figures
you could flick, but never roll over.
Giggle city: and hysterics ruled.

Or did they?
So sad to think that, back then,
I saw myself as I am now:
forehead larger, fatter one end,
thinner at the other
with shriveled shanks,
wasted muscles.

And the Fairground brain scan?
Well, it didn’t exist. Thank God.
What is there now within my skull?
Just a crackle of old, dead leaves,
a rat-filled attic of dried memories,
a sand-bag of half-forgotten thoughts.

I remember sitting there,
at the Slip on Swansea Sands,
with the summer ending,
thinking about going back to school,
watching the tide creep slowly in,
wondering what life was all about.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Reflections

Moment

Moment
St. Patrick’s Day

So soft, so subtle, this moment,
when land and sea reach out
and touch each other,
sea hand offered for the land
to raise up and kiss.

The Equinox draws near.
This is the moment when sun and moon,
day and night are equal.
It is the moment when the world
seems to stop, then moves again
in another direction,
from winter’s darkness into daylight
and the spring’s delight.

And still I live in hopes to see
the land of my birth once more,
the land of my fathers
where my father and mother met,
the land where I first saw daylight,
felt the land reach out to the sea,
felt the joy of the sun-licked sea kiss,
saw daffodils dance on the shore,
and swans swimming on the sea.

“And still I live in hopes to see…
Swansea Town once more.”

Click here for Roger’s reading on Acorn.
Moment

Twisted

Twisted

Sometimes we twist ourselves into knots.
We double-think our thoughts,
put our feet in the wrong hole in our jeans,
slide our socks on backwards,
put our shirts on inside -out.

Poor twisted mortals,
we have made up our minds that all is well,
that everything is for the best
in the best of all worlds,
but we are not candid with each other
and sometimes we are so twisted
we cannot see the truth
even when it is staring at us from the mirror.

Alas, my front tooth is chipped.
My hairline is receding.
My whiskers are turning as grey
as my thinning hair
that has already lost its curl
and now falls straight forward
in the Julius Caesar cut
that belies the closeness
of the Ides of March.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Twisted.

Teeth WFNB 5 March 2022

Teeth WFNB
5 March 2022
This is the story I was reading last night when Island View suffered its brief power outage and I was cut off from the WFNB Zoom reading. My apologies for the break in communications. First the text and then the live reading.

Lunchtime.
            I open a can of tom8to soup and heat it on the stove. I slice the remains of yesterday’s loaf of bread into one-inch cubes and fry them in olive oil and garlic. Tom8to soup with croutons. Then I put two slices of bread in the toaster. My father will only eat toast soaked in butter and layered with Marmite when he eats tomahto soup.
            “Lunch is ready,” I call out.
            The black American Cocker Spaniel, bought by my mother in a moment of madness, by telephone, unseen, camps in the kitchen. It nests at the far end of the table, by the stove, and defends its territory with warning growls and a snapping of yellowed teeth. I do my best to avoid the dog.
            “Dad, your lunch is ready,” I call out, a little bit louder. Dog, as my father calls it, growls and clatters its teeth. It has hidden a treasure in the folds of its old, gray comfort blanket, and guards it with the fierce, loving worry of a dragon protecting its golden hoard.
            My father enters the kitchen just as I place the soup on the table.
            “I’m not ready to eat,” my father growls. Put it back in the pot.”
            “What’s wrong, dad? I thought you were hungry.”
            “My teeth,” my father mumbles through a mouthful of pink gums. “I can’t find my teeth.”
            “Where on earth did you put them?”
            “I don’t know. If I knew where I’d put them, I wouldn’t have lost them.”
            My father circulates round the kitchen opening drawers, lifting saucepan lids, and shaking empty yogurt pots to see if they’ll offer up the rattling sound of lost teeth.
            “I can’t find them anywhere. I can’t eat lunch without my teeth.”
            “But it’s only soup, dad, tom8to soup.”
            “I don’t like tom8to soup. Your mother always made tomahto soup. Why can’t you be more like your mother?”
            “Sorry, dad. I’ll call it tomahto soup, if that will make you feel better. But it’s still made out of tom8toes.”
            “Don’t be so sarcastic. Help me find my teeth,” my father stomps towards the stove and Dog growls fiercely from its blanket as it guards its treasure.
            “Take that, you dirty dog,” my father pokes Dog in the ribs with his stick and Dog howls and spits out what it is chewing.
            “There they are,” my father’s voice trembles with excitement. He bends down, picks up his teeth, still hairy from the blanket and bubbly from Dog’s saliva, and pops them into his mouth. “That’s better,” he says, sitting down at the table. “Now I can enjoy my lunch.”

Click on this link for a ‘live’ reading of the story,
complete with Welsh accent.