May Day

May Day

Mayday, Mayday, S O S,
this is a plea for help, I guess.

Dit-dit-dit- dat-dat-dat,
the world lies dying
and that’s a fact.

Add another dit-dit-dit
and that’s morse code
for we’re in deep shit.
What can we do
to get out of it?

Very little, as I see it,
if the world can’t be
bothered to see it.

Another half country
of forest gone,
right whales diminishing,
they won’t last long.
Rivers flooding,
forests on fire,
what have we done
to earn Gaia’s ire?

Human beings
long-forgotten,
but profits are up,
maybe that’s what’s rotten.
We’re near rock bottom
I would guess.
Mayday, Mayday, SOS,

We’ll soon be gone
our works forgotten.
No more humans,
the world in a mess:
Mayday, Mayday, SOS.


Comment: Well that’s how I see it some days and this is just one of those mournings. Say it in paint, say it in rhyme. Nobody’s listening most of the time.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
May Day

Fearful Friday

Fearful Friday

“I met a traveler from an antique land
who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
tell that its sculptor well those passions read
which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
the hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings.
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
the lone and level sands stretch far away.”
[Percy Bysshe Shelley]

Comment: Not my poem – I only wish it was – but certainly it expresses some of my sentiments at the current time. What on earth is happening? Who do we think we are? What do we think we’re doing? Where do we think we are going? ‘Vanity of vanities – all is vanity.’

Vis brevis. Ars longa.

Click here for Roger’s reading of Shelley’s poem.
Fearful Friday – Ozymandias – on Acorn

On Being Welsh

On Being Welsh

On being Welsh in a land ruled by the English
Dydd Dewi Sant Hapus

             I am the all-seeing eyes at the tip of Worm’s Head.
I am the teeth of the rocks at Rhossili.
I am the blackness in Pwll Ddu pool
when the sea-swells suck the stranger
in and out, sanding his bones.

Song pulled taut from a dark Welsh lung,
I am the memories of Silure and beast
mingled in a Gower Cave.

Tamer of aurox, hunter of deer,
caretaker of coracle,
fisher of salmon on the Abertawe tide,
I am the weaver of rhinoceros wool.

I am the minority,
persecuted for my faith, for my language,
for my sex, for the coal-dark of my thoughts.

I am the bard whose harp, strung like a bow,
will sing your death with music of arrows
unleashed from the wet Welsh woods.

I am the barb that sticks in your throat
from the dark worded ambush of my song.

Click here for Roger’s reading.
On Being Welsh

Doors

Vis Brevis – Ars longa

Doors
Revised version

Paintings:
doors you can walk through,
windows that open onto visions
of another, more beautiful life.
Deeper than the paint, the thoughts
and words that formed them,
brushed them into life,
an ephemeral life, so brief
that butterflies seem to last longer
and flowers live for all eternity.

Transience and insubstantiality.
Change is all around us,
we are surrounded by change.
But the deepest changes,
the ones that affect us most
are internal, set deep within us,
death’s eggs hatching slowly
since the day we were born.

Life is indeed short, and art endures.
Carved five thousand years ago,
in stone, this magnificent henge,
first Wood-henge, then Stonehenge,
majestic at the dawn of time,
with its sarsen stones, pillars, post-holes,
and labyrinths, circling within circles,
a frail spider-web of sunlit brilliance.

Lost now, the message,
as my own message is lost,
covered by paint, though words
emerge in the strangest places,
allowing us to peer in through windows
as long-lost words and worlds
whirl out through carved and painted
windows and everlasting doors.

Doors
First version

Paintings are doors you can walk through,
windows that open onto visions
of another, sometimes better, life.
Deeper than the paint are the thoughts
and words that formed them,
brushed them into life,
an ephemeral life, so brief
that butterflies last longer
and flowers live for all eternity,
or so it seems.

Transience and insubstantiality.
Change is all around us,
we are surrounded by change.
But the deepest changes,
the ones that affect us most
are internal, set deep within us,
death’s eggs hatching slowly
since the day we were born.

Life is indeed short, and art endures.
Carved five thousand years ago,
in stone, this Towie ball
with its labyrinths and circles.
Lost now, the message,
as my own message is lost,
covered by paint, though words
emerge in the strangest places,
allowing us to peer in through windows
as long lost words and worlds
walk out through carved and painted doors.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Doors

Last Year’s Snow

Last Year’s Snow
Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan?
Villon.

Meditations on Messiaen
Inner Migrants

4

Last Year’s Snow

Last year’s snow: where did it go? The snow-blower
blew it around while my daughter made snow angels,
but that snow melted, so long ago. We made a snowman.

I remember rolling snowballs around the yard. They grew
so big we could hardly lift them, one large lump onto
another, and then we planted stick-arms, a hat, a nose.

Our dog visited him. Sniffed. Drilled yellow holes into his feet.
Crows sat on his arms, cawed and cawed, totally unafraid,
no scarecrow this, this fake man made entirely of snow.

The crows saw worse in the roadside snowbanks. Dead deer,
snow plowed into the banks and abandoned at roadside,
their bodies waiting for spring sun to resurrect them.

Our annual question: where did the snowman go?
And its sequels: last year’s snow, the birds that nested
in last year’s nests, what happened? Where did they go?

I have searched near and far, but I haven’t found them,
not a trace, not a song, not a feather floating down.
Where did they go?

No hay pajaros en los nidos de antano.
Miguel de Cervantes.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Last Year’s Snow.

Click on this link for Georges Brassens
Ballade de temps du temps jadis

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

She surveys her empire
from a tall tree, then steps
into space, plunging her
body’s weight downwards,
diving into fragile air.

A feathered arrow,
she makes contact, feet first,
and pins the unsuspecting robin
to the ground. His shrill shriek
emerges from a beak
that shreds failing life.

The hawk’s claws clench.
Her victim weakens.
His eyes glaze over.
One final spasm,
a last quick twitch,
the robin is gone.

One wing drags, flaps weakly,
borne skywards in the hawk’s
triumphant claws.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Sharp-shinned Hawk

Spirit Dance

Spirit Dance
Thursday Thought

One of my best friends came over today and we talked. We also went out shopping: blinds and curtain rails. I can no longer put them up. He can. We had a fun time. So much exchange of information in the car and in the store and afterwards, coming home.

We left the mounting of blinds and curtains for another day. But I invited him to choose a painting from my collection to recompense him for his time, his care, his attention, his help, and to thank him for his friendship and his reaching out. He chose this one, Spirit Dance, the one above, quite unique, one of my favorites. It was one of two that he liked. This was the other to which he aspired.

I asked him to help me choose a painting for the cover of my last book, Stars at Elbow and Foot, and this is what he selected. It is now on the cover of the book. He has a great eye for art. Well, it matches mine and he chooses my favorites. So I am happy with that.

But my Thursday Thought is this: in writing we say “kill your darlings”. Meaning, there are some great ideas in our poems, stories, novels, but they don’t quite fit. We love them. But we must kill them and cut them out. Sure we save them for later, but oh, do they ever belong.

I have never sold a painting. I cannot say ‘money talks’ like another of my friends, because to me it doesn’t. El Poema de Mio Cid: ‘partieron como la una de la carne‘ — they parted like the nail from the flesh. But, as another friend of mine, a preacher, said, when I visited my father in hospital: “there are no pockets in shrouds — you can’t take it with you.”

I am grateful to my friend for accepting the gift of my painting. I know he will cherish it and that it will be happy with him. But oh, I miss it. No: I don’t want it back. I want it loved and appreciated and yes, I know that when I go, I will not be able to take it with me. Nor any of the others. Does anybody want to adopt them, my beloved children?

Click here for Roger’s live reading.
Spirit Dance

Two Dead Poets

Two Dead Poets

I enjoyed the WFNB readings last night. Thank you, Ronda, for organizing them, and thank you Susan, for hosting them. It was nice to see so many young friends gathered together on my zoom screen. I would have said ‘old friends’, but we don’t want to be reminded that yes, we are all getting older. Best wishes and many thanks to all who attended and congratulations to all the award winners.

Anyone interested in reading the rest of my memoir can read it by clicking on the link below. I will post a live reading of it on this blog later today.

MO – modus operandi –

  1. Click on the first link. The text of the story will appear on a different screen.
  2. Click on the live reading. The podcast – audio will appear on another screen.
  3. Turn on your volume.
  4. Turn on the podcast.
  5. Return to text screen (1. above).
  6. Read text while listening to the voice.

This will give you a unique audio-visual experience.

Two Dead Poets

I just completed the live reading. A Tour de Force. My longest single reading ever – over 12 minutes. My voice faltered a couple of times towards the end. My apologies for that.

Two Dead Poets
Live Reading

A Rainbow of Clichés

Meditations on Messiaen
Why do the people?

2

A Rainbow of Clichés

It’s raining outside. A tympany of raindrops
drums rhythmically on roof and window.
Thunder rolls. Lightning flashes, lighting up the sky.
our lights flicker, but we don’t lose power.

“It never rains in the bars,” they say in Spain.
Yet it’s raining in my heart, a sad song,
raindrops, tear drops, my best friend,
tested for Lyme disease, now tested for Covid.

“It never rains unless it pours,” they say in Wales.
And here it comes again, that nineteenth session
of Covid nerves, heart fluttering, nostrils twitching,
that unmasked girl standing six inches behind me,

texting, all thumbs, totally absorbed in the medium
that delivers massage after massage, click here,
out from the empty spaces between her ears and into
the void beyond, bouncing from tower to tower,

small stones cast in a tranquil pond, rippling their way
to whatever eternity lies out there, external realities ignored,
enveloped in the smoke screen of the texting self,
mask-less, fearless, coughing, not covering her mouth.

Here come those clichés. ‘I’m all right, Jack.’ ‘It’s all
about me.’ ‘My life, my freedom to do what I want.’
“It ain’t the cough that carries you off, it’s the coffin
they carry you off in.” A coughing fit, fit for a coffin.

Better, I suppose, than World War One trench warfare,
when it’s over the top, and look: officers, chaplains, men,
the whole battalion, hanging from that old barbed wire.

Click on link below for Roger’s reading.
A Rainbow of Clichés