posted apparently a year ago today

Diagnosed with a terminal illness
called life, I know it will end in death.
For more than seventy years, that end
has lived within me, walked beside me,
sat at my bedside, and shared my sheets.

We have shared so many things: laughter,
joy, victory, defeat, the soul’s dark night,
the winding ways of fortune’s labyrinth.
When cancer called, we faced it together,
and life won out for a little while longer.

Hand in hand, we are together again,
our ménage à trois, engaged in a three
-legged race, blindfolded, unsure of who,
what, why, where, and especially when.




My front door stood open,
but I thought I’d left it

I tip-toed in and called:
“Is anybody there?”

Echo answered
‘… there, there, there …”
then silence.

I walked
from room to room,
startled by shadows.

I opened doors,
looked under the table,
searched behind chairs.

Nothing. No one.
The house stood
still and empty,

save for the fear,
the silent fear,
that lurked
like a remembered cancer
and occupied each room.

First published on this blog, Shadows, 27 April 2017. Here now with some minor changes and a voice recording.









A dialog with time and space.

But what is time? A river flowing? A long line leading from our beginnings to our end? Alpha and Omega? An instant held between finger and thumb and so swiftly forgotten? A dream we dream when we are awake. Or asleep. And which is the real dream, waking or sleeping? Sleeping or lying awake?

And what is space? This house in which Billy lives? The garden Billy watches from his window? What is Billy’s town? His district? His county? His province? His region?

And how does Billy relate to his “time” or his “place” and what is this being called “Billy”, this dream Billy dreams, this post-amniotic ocean of life in which Billy floats?

Billy dreams he is male. When he reads Carl Jung he learns a large part of him is female. Billy thought he was masculino / macho / male, yet when a large part of him is femenina / hembra / female, he’s no longer sure what he is.

Billy has ten fingers yet he uses only two to type. Two fingers manipulating twenty-six letters and Billy turns his black-and-white keyboard world upside down when he thinks his subversive thoughts and types them onto the page.

Time and place, male and female: Billy lay on his side in hospital and the young urologist shot him full of female hormones so his prostrate cancer would not takeover his inner organs and destroy his life.

Place and time: Billy lies awake at night and shapes disturbing dreams, dreams he never before dreamed of dreaming.

Billy senses the end is drawing near.

He fears it. Yet he loves it. He loves it because it’s his and nobody else’s.

In Billy’s beginning is his end.

Beginning and end: both belong to him.

Time and space, so sacred to Billy’s life … they will continue with or without him.

Billy may not be there to bear witness. But he has been here and parts of him will remain embedded in the mind of each and every one of those who knew him.

On an unusually Odd Sunday at Corked: raise a glass to Billy’s name when he is gone. Leave an empty glass on the table for Billy and he will be back.

Friday Fiction: Big Blue Sea


Friday Fiction
6 April 2018

Big Blue Sea

bad story I shout … because anger is stronger than fear … and I can’t analyse this story … I can’t look at it objectively … lucidity fails me … because I’ve been there … and because this story takes me back … returns me to that dark tunnel of the machine’s mouth … back to those flashing lights … back to the clacking teeth of the surgical saws … back to my own biopsies … those invasive surgeries … so deliberately concealed … so little understood … back to the memories of my mother … lying there … silent … needles taped to her arms … motionless but moving … ceiling lights casting orange shadows over African violet bruises on her arms … I communed with her in silence … my spirit seeking her spirit … in a wordless dance of two spheres … bonded by a common gravity yet circling suns … each in a different universe … spheres that would never again meet … not in this life … not in this dance … a beach … she was … with the tide running out … abandoned … empty … and nobody told me … nobody … said … a … word … as I sat there … and now … as I sit here … I find … I cannot write a word …

 … yet when I dream … I revisit these scenes … or do they drop round to visit me … returning like dream-ships in the night … white sails flashing beneath the moon … pale figures restless on spider-fine cordage … and the sequence a black-and-white conjunction of something just beyond my fingers … shy sparrows that I reach out for … yet cannot quite grasp … nor can my night mind exceed them …an Easter flower on a white-clothed altar … flickering candles snuffed out between finger and thumb … dark ghosts of spirits spiraling … surreal images dredged up from the unconscious and paraded at the tide-mark edge of the semi-conscious mind … only to be flayed by the rays of the rising sun and scattered into a million diamond drops that cling to the eye-lashes … and I remember looking at the pastel-paint walls of her hospital room … or looking out at the place I parked the car … beneath her hospital window … and a black dog played in the car park … ran round in circles … chasing its tail … as my dreams chase their tails and weave their willow-wand images in and out of my Mind’s flawed flower basket … weird this fishing weir … these circled sticks netting dreams on the open sea … as a dream-catcher traps them at the window and holds them … stopping them from coming in … and they perch like chirping sparrows in search of breadcrumbs … welcome on the window-sill … singing their mourning chorus … and no … I will not mourn … I cannot mourn her passing … for she is long gone now … I watch the last bus … the last train … pulling out of the station … and me in my dreams abandoned on the platform … and the train pulling away … like a sailing ship … bearing her to her final holiday … a cruise across the big blue sea …

Book Burnings


The Island View Book Burnings 

“Nobody gives a f*ck about your f*ckin’ books,” Jess said, as Jim spoke about the joys of his collection and what he intended to do with it. “Believe me, nobody wants those f*ckin’ books.”

Jim didn’t believe her at the time. But she was right.

Once upon a time, Jim had three great web pages. They took years to build and to consolidate. They also enjoyed great popularity and had many visitors. The first was taken down by the people who ran the website, they never told him why. The second became obsolete, almost overnight. Jim couldn’t add to it, and one day, it just wasn’t there anymore. The third one disappeared. Jim lost his voice, his photos, his videos, his feeds, his work and his identity. Planned obsolescence: the touch of a button, a click on the delete key, and great chunks of identities vanished forever. What is it with this world?

The Angel of Death came and knocked on Jim’s door. “All you have I own,” he said. “All this will come to me.”

“Then you can have it now,” Jim replied. Next day, he lay the foundations for a fire in his backyard.

I am ready, Jim thought, I’ll build a bonfire, sit on top like Guy Fawkes, and I’ll burn myself, like a Buddhist Monk, along with all my soon-to-be orphaned and hence unwanted books.

First came Jim’s papers: 53 banker’s boxes of documents, records, and papers he had taken for recycling. Ten seventy-five liter bags of intimate letters, signed papers, early handwritten versions of poems and stories he had fed into the shredder and left out for the garbage men. Nineteen boxes of books he had delivered to the charities who collect such things.

Books: they had fornicated in the dark and overflowed Jim’s shelves with their off-spring. A thousand Jim had given away. Three thousand remained. Jim thought the process was too slow. At the first sign of rain, when the woods were less dry, and would not flame at the slightest spark, Jim decided he would burn them all.

Bureaucrats: they deleted the country’s scholars, they eliminated all the scholarship that did not tally with their crippled and crippling minds, they refused to sanction what their oh-so-limited intelligence couldn’t understand … soon, Jim would wave his magician’s wand and he and his life work would disappear in a single act of academic and cultural suicide.

Jim had already shredded his manuscript copy of Flores de poetas ilustres (1603). Nobody spoke Spanish. Nobody could read the hand-writing. The Flores of 1609 swiftly followed. Jim had copies of five of the six known manuscript versions of the Heráclito Cristiano. Who wanted to read such things? Jim decided to commit them all to the flames along with his autograph copy of the Naples manuscript, the one written by an amanuensis (and who the hell in these days knows what an amanuensis is?) and corrected by the original poet, Quevedo, whose name nobody can now pronounce.

Jim’s sorry to say that these pieces will mirror the fate of the Evora manuscript and those autograph manuscripts from the Biblioteca de Menéndez y Pelayo in Santander that have already gone.

Jim also has copies of all the early manuscripts of Quevedo’s novel, the Buscón, and they too are destined for the flames. Who cares? If people cannot pronounce the author’s name, how can they read the manuscripts of what is probably Quevedo’s greatest work? Written in 1601, published illegally by a bookseller in 1629, targeted by the Spanish Inquisition, his authorship at first denied, then defended by the author … Jim has copies of all that correspondence between poet and priest and Inquisitor, but who now cares? It can all go.

Facsimiles, too, will flare into flame. Who cares? Who now knows what a facsimile is? The ancients buried their warriors with grave gifts of horses and armor, jewels and food … photocopies, facsimiles, microfiches, microfilms, they will all go with Jim to the fire. Jim shall sate the Angel of Death with everything he owns, unless that being stays Jim’s hand or carries him away before he can light the match.

I will grieve.

Does anyone else give a damn?




Diagnosed with a terminal illness
called life, I know it will end in death.
For more than seventy years, that end
has lived within me, walked beside me,
sat at my bedside, and shared my sheets.

We have shared so many things: laughter,
joy, victory, defeat, the soul’s dark night,
the winding ways of fortune’s labyrinth.
When cancer called, we faced it together,
and life won out for a little while longer.

Hand in hand, we are together again,
our ménage à trois, engaged in a three
-legged race, blindfolded, unsure of who,
what, why, where, and especially when.

Y Ddraig


Kingsbrae 15.2
15 June 2017

Y Ddraig

“Here there be dragons!”
The old maps used to say.
A sea-serpent decorated those maps,
a kraken, perhaps, or another monster
drawn from the depths of the unconscious.

In Wales there used to be dragons.
Old massive bones rose to the surface,
long ago, and there were skulls
and other artefacts lurking in the coal seams
that snaked through dark mines.

The fear of dragons is still within us.
We know they can fly in from nowhere,
setting fire to the crops, burning the houses,
killing people in an unequal battle in which
one party can fly while the other
can only run and hide,
or else burn publicly in the open streets,
Guy Fawkes figures in their multiple bonfires,
flaring in those deadly white phosphor flames.

Bonfires and bone-fires:
I have also seen the Cancer Dragon
growing within the human body
and burning the poor patient alive,
from the inside out.

Y Ddraig Coch:
the Red Dragon of Wales:
long may he stay on our flag
and rule the skies from his flagpole.
Those who wish for the dragon’s return
yearn indeed for sadder, madder, darker days.

Comment: Another ‘raw’ poem, but one that I have been thinking about for some time. It was driven from the back to the front of my mind by Carlos’s photo of the dragon in Kingsbrae Gardens. Carlos is my photographer and travels far and wide, taking photos that he then shares with me. I am very grateful to him for this sharing. I usually work my photos on the IMac, but here I am working with a PC that I am only just beginning to understand. There are so many new things happening that it is difficult to keep pace with them all. Oh yes, and this poem is an allegory [a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another, definition from dictionary. com], but I am not sure that I know what the hidden meaning actually is.