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

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

Daffodil Day

Daffodil Day

Daffodils

For ten long days the daffodils
endured, bringing to vase and breakfast-
table stored up sunshine and the silky
softness of their golden gift.

Their scent grew stronger as they
gathered strength from the sugar
we placed in their water, but now
they have withered and their day’s done.

Dry and shriveled they stand paper-
thin and brown, crisp to the touch.
They hang their heads:
oncoming death weighs them down.

Click here for Roger’s reading.
Daffodils

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

Dydd Dewi Sant Hapus

Dydd Dewi Sant Hapus

Daffodils
(for my mother)

Light in dark
bright yellow stridence
shrill golden dog’s bark
to warn off death’s wolves
that freeze her blood

she dreaded night’s unease
the devil’s wintry anti-spring
life’s darkest sparks

but loved the daffodils’
sunny March cadence
of brief piercing dance

Click here for Roger’s reading.
Daffodils

Light

Light

Striving onwards to the light
I don’t need a ladder
nor an Aladdin’s Lamp
to transport me upwards,
not to stardom
but to the sun and stars
that wait, day and night,
outside my window.

Prince of Mirth,
soon to be Lord of Light,
I will wear my hibiscus crown
for a short time,
but with joy and pleasure,
a treasure I will treasure
until the natural end
when stars, sun, and crown
come tumbling down,
leaving me alone,
naked, yet clothed in,
and surrounded by,
light.

Click here for Roger’s reading.
Light.

Pocket Paintings

Pocket Paintings
Peintures de Poche

My usual discipline has deserted me and, as a result, I have deserted my blog, abandoned it, gone absent without leave. It’s not that I am not creating: I am. I am just not posting. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I thought that, for a change, I would post some of my Pocket Paintings / Peintures de Poches. Maybe I will be inspired to write verse about them. Maybe not. We’ll see.

Supplication

I raise my hand to heaven
in fervent supplication:
you sever it at the wrist.

I spread out my arms in despair:
you take out a tape and measure me
for a tailor-made, hand-crafted cross.

I step on my bathroom scales
only to find that they have become
the scales of your justice:
I mourn every pound I have put on.

Where can I turn for solace
when all around I see
nothing but sorrow and tears?

Covid bears us all down.
An albatross, it hangs around our necks
and when we raise a hand,
your knife is there to cut it off.

Who are you? What are you?
Where are you when we need you?
Why are you there judging us like this?

I look up at the sky.
By day, a great cyclopean eye
winks and blinks and tells me nothing.
I look at the sky at night:
a silver moon slides silently by.

Orion stalks away to the west.
He leaves me restless, breathless,
agape at all this beauty
that I dare not reach out and grasp.


One Goldfish

Ephemera

One Goldfish

A great big thank you to Allan Hudson, editor of the South Branch Scribbler Blog. He e-mailed me on my birthday, last Sunday, and asked me if I had a story that he could use on his new blog page Short Stories from Around the World. These will be published every other Wednesday, starting today. I am very honoured and proud to be the author of the first story, One Goldfish, third place in the WFNB non-fiction award (2020), that opens the series. It was revised and reworked in the Advanced Writing Course, run by Brian Henry of Quick Brown Fox fame. I would like to thank Brian and all my fellow participants who helped me rework the story. On Allan’s blog you will find links to other contributions from me. You will also find a series of featured authors, from New Brunswick, the Maritimes, Canada, and all around the world. Allan does a great job for us minor, struggling literary figures, not just for the greats. I encourage you to follow his blog and support him.

Ephemera

My painting (above) is entitled Ephemera. It shows a literary text semi-obliterated by various colors and devices. If we have learned anything from Covid it should be the fragility of life, the insubstantiality of existence, and the enormous powers of the natural world that surrounds us. My friends: take nothing for granted. Carpe Diem – seize the day – and “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may – for time it is a’flyin – and that poor flower blooming today – tomorrow may be dying.” This is Robert Herrick, of course. Here is my own version of the theme from The Nature of Art and the Art of Nature.

Daffodils

Winter’s chill lingers well into spring.
I buy daffodils to encourage the sun
to return and shine in the kitchen.
Tight-clenched fists their buds, they sit
on the table and I wait for them to open.

Grey clouds fill the sky. A distant sun
lights up the land but doesn’t warm the earth
nor melt the snow. The north wind chills
body and soul, driving dry snow
across our drive to settle in the garden.

The daffodils promise warmth, foretell
the sun, predicting bright days to come.
When they do, red squirrels spark at the feeder.

For ten long days the daffodils endure, bringing
to vase and breakfast-table stored up sunshine
and the silky softness of their golden gift.

Their scent grows stronger as they gather
strength from sugared water. But now
they begin to wither, their day almost done.

Dry and shriveled they stand this morning,
paper-thin, brown, crisp to the touch, hanging
their heads as oncoming death weighs them down.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Daffodils