Joy & Love


Joy & Love
(1936 – 1969 AD)

sunbathers sunbathe
swimmers don’t swim
except for one silly fool
in a clear patch of water
swept clean by the current
towed under by the undertow

swimmer fights back
goes against the flow
tires so swiftly
raises his arms
throws up goes under
comes up throws up

a beach ball thrown
misses the target
kicked with more accuracy
a soccer ball heavier
lands by his side
he grasps it hangs on
kicking more slowly

sun-bathers sprint
across sand to the shore
linked hands a life-line
reaching out through the waves
to rescue the swimmer
no longer fighting back

summer-sun kisses
sun-bathers victorious
this great chain of being
restoring humanity
sweet victory of man



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(1914 AD)

they came for the burial
more civilized than
ritual burning

one by one
victims gathered up
held in one last hug

empty coffins
stood in rows
waiting to be filled

bodies on the beach
scarred in an after life
black and white

stark their weird
bones bleached
among sea-weed

done the deed now
coffins filled
lids nailed down

high tide mark
carapace charred wood
rusted iron

bright bones
long dead creatures
slow washing of hands

relentless actions
wind sandpaper sea
tear-filled skies


15 May 2002 Pre-Rimouski 109



(1960 AD)

white stone its castle
tumbled into ruin
stones in the river bed
mirrored its image
wind-broken ripples
picture fragmented

mud flats and rocks
stretch out horizontal
distant the sea
Severn mud an obstacle
no swimmers out there
where tides twist and pull

rock bathing instead
wind-whipped bare bodies
blasted with sand
skimpy the clothing
bikinis and pants
intrepid the wearers
breathless young girls
Welsh voices on the wind
always the wind
across rock across mud

dinosaurs walked here
left tracks in that mud
metamorphosed now
into fossil and rock

breeze tickles the nostrils
gulls batter the ears
salt stings the tongue
life on the margin
a bargain a gift
sweet in my memory
her kiss on my lips

Comment: I have no pictures of Ogmore (except in my mind). You’ll have to make do with St. Andrews, also by the sea. My thanks go out to David Watts for reminding me of my childhood in Wales. So many memories came twitching back. I went regularly to Ogmore with one of my school friends and his family. This was while I was still in the sixth form in school … a long time ago … but I remember it well.

Lost Angel


Lost Angel

One day she was there,
the next day she was not.

She slipped through our fingers
like water or fine sand,
here one day
and gone the next

We looked away for a moment,
and when we looked back
she had disappeared.

The wind whispers secrets
that are multiplied
by grass tongues
wagging on deserted dunes.

The wind thinks she left us
to join the children
who play hide and seek
on empty September beaches.

“Hush now,” says the wind,
“if you make a sound
the children will know you are here.

They will slide through clefts in the rocks
and hide in silence, waiting
until you too have disappeared.”

Comment: Another Golden Oldie, this one from my book All About Angels. I wrote All about angels in homage to Rafael Alberti’s book, Sobre los angeles, one of my favorite poetry books in Spanish. My angels are not Alberti’s angels. How could they be when his angels are Spanish and mine are Welsh and Canadian? Do you really  believe in angels, you ask. Well, you’ll never know, because I’ll never tell you. That said, I did write a book about them.

Scratch Pen


Scratch Pen

This old fashioned
scratch pen,
post office pen
with its pointed nib:
a mindless spider
weaving its web
of fine-spun words.

I dip the pen
into emerald ink
and my fingers
turn green with envy
as the nib sails on,
its pea-green boat
laden with meanings
that will never
arrive on shore.

Lost in life’s
traffic jam
of things to do,
I miss the mystery:

star-crossed words,
an empty ocean,
this one dip pen
scratching on,
while I dither
like a mother hen
checking her chicks.





… like a limpet at the sea side
she clings to her inner rock
as the incoming tide
causes waters to rise,
to sweep her away.

A wind charges
over the bay,
brings a wave-surge,
white water, urgent,
crashing against rocks.

showered and shocked,
the little limpet
clinging on,
knowing that this
is the way
limpets survive,
from day to day,
from generation
to generation.


Old Man

15 May 2002 Pre-Rimouski 109

Old Man

An ancient mariner lives in my brain.
Many seas has he sailed, seen many things.
A knapsack of memories, a snail shell
on his back, weighs him down.

His life: a broken record
on an unstable turntable.

He stops people in the street,
tells again the story of his ship,
trapped in the doldrums
where winds no longer blew.

Ghost days weight heavy.
Does he wait for the black patch
carved from the bible
to summon him home?

Photo: The Museum for the shipwreck of the  Empress of Ireland, Pointe-au-Pere, Quebec. The Empress sank off Ste. Luce-sur-mer on 29 May 1914.