Chronos

 

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Chronos
(700 BC & 1933 AD)

tub-thumped these clouds
grey-framed skylights
gathering sky

corralled on coral
this ship’s figure-head
mouth open to speak
a foghorn
her bare breasted
Scylla & Charybdis
lighthouse lights

goat-legged beach-comber
wandering a lug-worm beach
avoid those places
where the sea-weed

water the father
earth the mother
false union
engendering an egg
waves breaking
their broken marriage

cyclical the sickle
ticking rocks to sand
time personified

That Wall

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That Wall
(1953 AD)

build that wall
top it with wet cement
place bottles in a row
sign it date it
carve the barrier in stone

when the cement sets
break those bottles
impenetrable barriers

walled now this garden
its interior holy of holies
a paradise for the chosen few
peace and roses only a dream
glimpsed from the outside

a climber climbs
rips flesh shreds clothes
mottles concrete with blood
wet washing hung in fleshy strips
a red flag now this Siegfried line
its shattered glass wire
its see-through brittle anger
excluding all intruders

walled this garden studio
this monument
built by my father
seeking to block who out
trying to lock who and what in

Swans

 

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Swans
(at the Vetch Field)

(circa 1950 AD)

White
their plumage
fierce eyes
folded angels’ wings
black-booted feet
paddling urgent
driving them on

skilled and silky
swift lunge
capable of breaking
leg or arm

all white ghosts
those swans
bodies and spirits
earthly dance done
long since gone
flown to the sky

anonymous
constellations spread
milky feathers
winged like swans

Comment:

The Vetch Field is where Swansea Town (now Swansea City) used to play their soccer. My father took me regularly to see the Swans play and, when young, I preferred the round ball game to the oval ball game. Swansea Town were always known as the Swans and the rugby team were always called the All Whites. No Ospreys and colored uniforms in those days and also no money in the rugby: everything was amateur. The inter-relationship of images in the poem above changes when the reader learns that the Vetch Field is also where the shroud-wrapped bodies of those prisoners who were hanged in nearby Swansea Jail were rumored to be buried. This may or may not be true, but be it myth or legend or plain falsehood, it gives added dimensions  to the imagery in this poem.

Paradise Lost

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Paradise Lost
(1667 AD)

nobody answers
bewitched by your knock
ultimate betrayal
front door locked

cold finger elegies
devils ascending
rhythmic drumming
rain descending

knock again louder
nobody’s replies
ahoy there the house
nobody’s inside

memories flutter
life’s dead butterflies
doorstep-marooned
look around take stock

ghosts watch from windows
sockets open in shock
that key in your pocket
might open the lock

a mystical place
between heaven and earth
land of my fathers
house of my birth

Ogmore-by-Sea

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Ogmore-by-Sea
(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.

Copperopolis

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Copperopolis
(1717 / 1804)

mountains of the moon
lunar landscapes
lunatic fringes
mercury madness
running through brains

scabs picked
wounds running raw
skin blotched red
eyes blurred
twitching

wait a hundred years
grass might grow back
earth might give flowers
bay waters might flow free

my grandfather coughs
his lungs up
bit by bit

he’ll never again know
the scent of flowers
taste oysters from the bay
smell sea-fresh air