I. MATH BETRAYED
King Math Mathonwy’s son, in Gwynedd rules as peaceful sire:
On virgin Goewin’s lap feet rests, or else is doomed to die;
Gilfaethwy, scheming nephew, chaste girl’s maidenhead desires:
With brother’s help he’ll gain his prize – to Dyfed, Gwyddien flies…
And there his songs Pryderi woo, enchanting that proud king
For dream-made loot lord trades his pigs, new-born on earth’s fair face;
Enraged, Pryderi makes pursuit, and war to Gwynedd brings
Math’s forced to fight – the damsel’s crown to snatch – his nephews race.
Gilfaethwy vile rapes Goewin fair, as battle rages round;
Though strength and valour, magic wiles, Pryderi’s end draws nigh
With final sword-thrust Gwyddien spills rust gore-soup slick on ground
But victory sick sin can’t cleanse and Math cries from on high:
“Thus, Gwyddien antlered stag shall be, then grunting sow, then wolf;
Gilfaethwy hind, and boar, she-wolf – that brothers both shall mate;
For three harsh years let sinners rut in their own guilt engulfed.”
And Hyddwn, Hychddwn, Bleiddwn spring as sons from crime of hate.
At court it’s pandemonium, as the king’s without his maid;
The nephews’ exile’s ended and a compromise vouchsafed.
Math graciously makes Goewin bride, her dignity to keep;
And shares all kingly might with her, his wisdom plumbs so deep.
Arianrhod, Gwyddien’s sister’s, told to step athwart Math’s rod
But she’s no virgin – birthing flax-haired boy who’s kin to cod!
When Dylan’s dipped in holy font to celebrate God’s boon
He surfs his second wave to peace in ocean’s salty womb.
Cowed mother, slathered thick with shame escapes on silver wheels:
A fleshy lump drops from her skirts, whose fate mage Gwyddien seals.
Safe in stout chest, blood-clot grows strong and sprouts into a boy;
Astounded uncle’s roused by screams more fit to pain than joy.
II. ARIANRHOD’S FATES ON LLEU
Stars’ time-dial turns, boy Lleu grows up: his maker he must meet
To Fort Arianrhod boy and uncle fight
But when shamed mother spies men-kin, spurned child she will not greet
Instead dire fate-curse screams in velvet night:
“Your mother may I be – my son are you not;
Until this woman’s spell-words hot
Release you, mewling babe in cot
To be a nameless thing – shall be your given lot.”
The lords withdraw, plot, and return; as cobblers now they’re gowned:
The Witch’s bunions screeching for soft shoes.
With stone straight thrown ‘twixt cord and bone, skilled Lleu a wren brings down;
With admiration Castle-keeper coos:
“Shoe-maker you be: ‘Deft-handed’ as well;
This style your sun-drenched fame shall surely tell!”
And with these words clear as a bell
Lleu has a name – duped mother’s wrath indeed is fell!
Within her tower crazed Siren fumes, this second fate lets fall:
“No weapons for the boy save those I keep!”
Away and back the menfolk track, as bards they seek the hall;
Enchanting fables lull the folk to sleep.
And then, awake, the actors fake
The hue and cry berserkers make –
So Harpy sorcerous armour takes
Girds up her son – her own spell now she breaks!
White Lady thrashes, sighs, and swoons – incensed, her hate huge grows;
Her final fate pronounces, cold as ice:
“While this boy live ‘neath sun’s harsh eye, no human wife he’ll know:
Alone he’ll fade and wither: that’s life’s price!”
But Math and Gwyddien summon fields
“Oak, broom, and meadowsweet now yield!” –
Life’s tight green fuse in spouse unreal
Baptized Blodeuwedd – earth’s fairest fruit – they seal!
III. LLEU BETRAYED
Blodeuwedd’s leaf-slip’s quickly shed:
Sweet nature makes sap-drunk Lleu wince;
‘Midst much rejoicing Cool-hand’s wed,
Then off to greet great-uncle Math
Careering swift down woe-strewn path;
Plant-bride voracious seeds the bed
Of Gronw Pebr, Penllyn’s Prince:
Foul night-shades scheme to strike Lleu dead
But culling’s an exhausting task
They can’t just scythe off his head-flask!
Young Blondie’s voodoo-charmed alright
No harm befalls him, day nor night
Inside or out he meets no plight
Riding nor walking loses fight
Not clothed nor bare goes out his light
No right-wrought weapon his end writes.
At dusk he must die;
Enmeshed in fine net;
One foot on cauldron,
The other on goat;
But unhallowed spear
Has claim on his life:
Forged for a year
On God’s own day
While meek men pray.
“Sweet-pea, to save your life,
You must act out how you die,”
The wily Belladonna Lleu beguiles;
So, cleaving from his wife,
He jumps high in twilight sky,
Net-clad, pot-stood, goat-backed, he’s still all smiles!
Grey-mantled Gronw strikes:
The cursed spear breaks
And crippled Lleu flies off in eagle’s cloak;
But after winding hike
Pursuing wild sow’s wake
Sage Gwyddien finds him worm-food up an oak.
IV. LLEU’S VENGEANCE
A true tree-verse he calls:
Hurt eagle quits his bough,
His human form reclaiming then and there;
So nursed in healing hall
Red vengeance Lleu does vow
And war-mad hordes expel usurping pair.
Base blossom-daughter flees with maids
Who backwards-scrambling, drown in lake;
Blodeuwedd into owl is made
Her face each day to hide from hate
Of other birds in field or glade
Despised by man and beast, her fate.
Grimy Gronw, far away
Sues Lleu for mercy, proffers gold;
Blond boy rebuffs him: now’s his day
So states his terms, his logic bold:
Usurper stand on river’s clay
To face the righteous spear he’ll hold.
Grisly Gronw begs his band
To take his ground in death’s fanged maw
But Lleu’s fleet hand they understand
And cowards one by one withdraw
Till God-cursed Gronw on the strand
Huge stone behind, raps tomb’s cool door.
The dart’s propelled with lightning might
It fractures granite, piercing right
Through Gronw’s heart, as slinks in night
Lleu wins, world’s balance set aright
And with sharp spark of dawn’s blue light
New Lord’s installed – in Heaven’s sight.
Dyna ddiwedd chwedl Math fab Mathonwy i gyd;
Duw a’n helpo ni sy’n byw yn yr hen wlad o hyd!
More locks secure the triple cock-crow blasted grove,
Where dusky eagle-girl and lusty whale-boy play,
Than cell-leached binding-spells in myriad tales untold,
Seducing mortals into hero-questing alloy-woven trove;
Pure art’s desires breathe silver lying ways:
Fresh worlds spin out from words’ embittered gold,
Smelt tainted speech on grammar’s mythic stove;
Deft skills cloud-weave substantives’ heady spray;
Redeconstructing threads unravel, as of old,
With rainbow key unfurling smoke-born stair;
Leaden names’ elixir from rock-pool water flay,
Thresh adjectival leaves, in purple thought-cloak rolled;
Outlandish charms enliven soil’s clay-shoddy wares,
Scorned rowan-switch, chides ravens’ quills to blood,
Chilled worm-fire lambent-licks doomed seeker bold,
Deep sin-gored – entombed alive –
In fay-realm’s perilous unwinding lair.
Rude alien spirit caught in ever-shifting mud,
Wits’ mossy tangle frigid sky-nerves rend:
Dumb ash transmute to amber-swifting air,
As jade grass-knives into Otherworldly rose-eggs bud;
Then churlish blue-moon’s mocking lights ascend,
Erasing lawful history with flick of fickle scales:
Delude, bewitch, coerce: smitten serf’s eyes, flood;
Sweet river-valley hiking, from beguiled ken send;
Stone-tree, bone-house, tear-wine, rust-breaded nails:
Nightmare minutiae, dice echo-jumbled wholes;
Bleached time-hound’s baleful half-heard baying wends,
Where dogma’s chasing trance, Earth’s well-brink wails:
Thus, Tamlin slick, tithes seven years from wandering human souls:
Queen Mab guards hawthorn bound-posts on returnless trails:
Glass-day delights enriching, in sour, deathless faery vales;
Iron-enchanted – flight-lorn – bound
To life’s despairing, self-sustaining, goals.
[South Wales Evening Post: 22/08/20 and 29/08/20 as PM; Inspired by: J R R Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories,” in “The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays” (1983; London: George Allen and Unwin)]
Tan-sackcloth swathed temptress,
Your hairy husk harangues me!
Ogling, wingless, nestled in the lazy palm;
Blind three-eyed skull
Bare-knuckled from nature's knock-backs,
You deftly dupe the starving,
Who desire your fruity nuts.
How I long to split your globe,
Squeeze sweet oil from your kernel;
To lap up that luscious juice
From within your impregnable core;
Then reach inside, where tender flesh lies quaking,
Feasting on heaven's jelly:
Lapping out every greedy grain.
Even spent at last,
Your body's bounty's ceaseless;
I gorge on chunks of copra
Meat-meshed in our hammock womb:
As charcoal feathers flee your incensed pulp-mass:
Burnt offering to Lakshmi,
Who cavorts on the coconut moon.
[Written for the California Institute of Arts "Sharpened Visions" Poetry Workshop (Coursera Certified) in 2017]
Dismal dreams forebode Gods’ doom-call
While in Slain-Home they make feast;
Broad bruise-blotches smother mead-halls,
Bloody gore swamps frail Sun’s heat.
Odin One-Eye foresight-maddened
Gathers warriors for his hoard;
Heaven’s Powers escape not end-times:
Nine-Worlds to last battle called.
Even now dread World-Ash trembles:
Summer’s days, harsh, weak and wan;
All that’s made to judgement stumbles:
Fate-net-trapped by plan long drawn.
White-Prince Baldr, light-beam smiling
Quashes fears of coming storm:
Wisest, fairest, all-beguiling,
Herald fair of song-spelled dawn;
Second boy of Frigg and Odin,
Gleaming-Broad house shuns wrong’s fang;
Cherished-Mother foresees downfall;
Warrior lad shares fate’s cold pang.
Frigg in anguish whole land wanders,
Begging each last living thing:
“Dear kind spirit hurt my boy not
Beauty bright, who’s free from sin!”
Every creature green or furry,
Great or moist, both fleet and still,
Tears’ mewled plea obeys with gladness:
Save one plant-child – soon to kill.
Young the mistletoe, oak-sprouting
(Harm could never this shoot bear);
So does tender-minded mother
Pass it by – her soul to tear!
Air-Roaring Loki, carnage-mad grills Frigg:
Intent to snare sweet tongue with pearl-dropped words;
She, babbling fountain, talks into his trap:
To yield her sojourn’s details quick is stirred!
Atrocious Trickster hies to whittle spear,
Of mistletoe and magic it’s craft-wrought;
God-kin in hurling anything make sport
Of Baldr – merest mite though can’t creep near.
So hoves up Loki.
Armed with dire death-dart;
Sneaks it to Hodr
End-of-All now starts:
Guides Blind-One’s right hand:
Spear pierces Bright-Heart;
Drops in an instant
All curse this dark-art.
Fair Baldr’s body’s burnt without delay
Upon his Circle-stern, world’s biggest boat,
Enwrapped in Wisest-Being’s eagle-cloak;
Is riddled rebirth whispered? Who can say?
Upon God’s finger self-renewing ring,
Beside him wife in grief herself arrays;
His horse and tackle on the pyre are laid,
Drear comrades mourning dirges till dawn sing.
She-ogre Fire-Smoke, wolf-borne, now draws near
And into salty spray the longboat aims;
Dwarf Bright-Hue, crazed Thor kicks, into wild flames,
As rollers burn, and earth’s rock-mantle shears.
Baldr to gloom goes,
Sailing by moon’s chart;
Odin sires new son:
One day grows him smart;
Well plays his bit-part;
Hodr now shuffles
Hel-wards, with cleft heart.
Frigg in frenzy summons herald,
Sends War-Sprite to Hel’s dire land;
Eight-hoofed Slippery slams down Ash-roots,
Baldr spies at Fiend’s right hand.
Honoured Bright-One grey and grim sits,
Envoy gold-tongued freedom seeks;
Loki’s-Daughter grinning aye-says
– Only when all living weep!
Everything now wails,
Save troll-girl named Thanks;
Loki, skirt-dressed, fails –
Baldr’s in Hel trapped,
Till End-Day dawns pale.
On three stones cruel Trickster’s bound up,
Son’s iron innards used as chains;
Serpent on his face drips venom,
Earth-shakes follow every pain!
Fearful Fenrir’s tied beside him:
Blood defiles not holy plain.
On Earth, Great-Winters three shroud frigid Sun;
From greed man brother kills, and sister whores;
On High, Gods oaths forsake: break ancient laws;
All-Worlds sweet nature’s course begin to shun.
Axe-age, sword-age: shields all shatter;
Wind-age, wolf-age: bonds unfetter!
Golden chicken rouses God-Hall,
Crimson rooster Giants wakes.
Soot-red cockerel Hel-bound wraiths calls;
Loki, Fenrir, tight bonds break.
Fat Nail-Ship’s helm red Loki rides;
Grim Giants and shamed Dead array;
Worm Grudge-Wright feasts on corpses fried;
Horned Sea-Snake, splashing, poison sprays.
Fell Fen-Beast’s jaws scrape land and sky:
Sun, moon, and stars in Wolf’s gut lodge;
Great mountains topple, tall trees fly;
Vast Blue-Vault cracks, dun hordes disgorge.
Gods’ Watchman Heimdall smells chill fear,
Hears carnage rise, blows Booming-Horn:
On Slippery-Horse with Swaying-Spear,
Gold-eagle-helmed chief Odin’s borne.
Last battle’s fought On Vigrid-Plain:
Ten-million pints of blood are drained;
Now Fenrir gulps: ends Odin’s reign;
Son Vidarr rends jaws: sliced Wolf’s slain;
Thor Sea-Worm offs, but toxin gains:
Nine steps he takes, then long-sleep claims;
And Loki, Heimdall wastes, in vain –
His jet guts, war-sore earth to stain.
Ogre Surt wields flaming blade,
Sun’s sour light dulls into shade;
Hell-jets round Fire-Giants play;
Rainbow-Bridge to waste is laid;
God-Fort burns: a cinder made.
Flames nothing spurn:
Land’s ravished dire;
Sea’s waters churn:
Steam slams foul mire;
Whole Milk-Stream burns:
To dust stars turn:
First-Birth slow dies.
Pristine stillness; spring-wound black,
Pregnant anti-cosmic gap;
Twilight slumber quick is reckoned:
Myriad aeons pass in seconds;
Salt sea-spray spawns Earth from mud:
Hawk grabs fish in mountain flood;
Lands untouched spring forth anew:
Gold-thatched homes come into view;
Gods’-Dawn, Never-Cold place wakes:
Lush fields fresh no tending take.
Wild Corpse-Shore Death-Hall harbours still
Spent thieves and felons, men who kill;
Walls, writhing snakes weave through with skill,
Where noxious venom river spills,
Which sinners swill who curse their ills;
With hearts gross Serpent stomach fills.
Trumpet cheers triumphant shape:
Baldr-Bright, Hel’s depths escapes;
Rules Clean-Soil with Gods’ sons great:
Vidarr, Vali, sit in state,
Honir too, metes judgement straight,
Thor’s sons wield sire’s Hammer’s weight,
Hodr yet, shares joyous fate;
Golden life-game trashed of late’s
Set true on cheque-board’s eight-by-eight.
Sustained by dew through bleak World-End,
Lif with Lifthrasir Life-Ash tend;
Human pair whom New-Earth sends,
Emerging now soft steps they wend;
Co-Kings, old wounds in time to mend,
As Sol’s fair child day’s vault ascends,
Warm love-rays round raw Being bend.
Sow-time, hoe-time: numbers strengthen;
Oath-time, truth-time: strife’s prevention;
Glow-time, snow-time: peace-tides lengthen;
Man-made-God Span: Time’s redemption!
Incarcerated jock knifes
Quality retractable skein.
Xenophilic young zealot.
[South Wales Evening Post: 12/10/18 as PM]
Oh choice enigma, fear-flecked,
Bone-clad in fulsome sheets of red!
Your amber brain drags rainbows down,
As eye-holes blood turf’s seedless dead;
With fierce craft you apple-wreck:
Thick hail-clouds stoop to swipe your mane;
Hoof’s riot courage stones mere truths,
Relentless fetlock scatters pain;
Then skin-lashed sweat betrays brute force,
Silk tail alive-flays sickened seas;
Eternal ears rouse witless rain,
Unburden sap from weeping leaves;
Fire-granite muzzle shrives the meek,
Insane tongue neighs fate’s futile words;
While whip-crack croup-dance thraldom wreaks –
This Horse-god’s name burns dappled worlds!
[South Wales Evening Post: 04/10/18 as PM]
Luscious maid Koré, whose names are many:
Mother of rivers and horses and corn;
Desire unbridled snatches down Hell-wards,
Green-infused life-force then no more is born.
Hell’s heart melts, Death’s jaw clamps,
Fate’s thread snaps, time’s weft warps,
Blessed maid captured forever to stay.
Dragged through dark tunnels to Death’s bitter breast
Sun’s light retreats, hunger ceaseless she feels;
With no mortal food is Hell’s kitchen blest
Save cursed pomegranate: this, her fate seals.
Sacred fruit’s cell-flask, tender, envelops
Astringent, delicate, white pulpy pear
Fleshy womb fateful, infinite life-cup,
Unknowing agent of evil it bears;
Suborned by Hades, head wreathed in laurel
Master of riches, who every soul takes,
Mere six-seed mouthful, mistletoe-dart-like
Sacrifice bloodless from hunger-pangs makes.
Then as world-frame goes slack
Gentian torch-flames grow thin
Lethe’s stern flux falls still
Koré who knows no sin
Skin white, lips red, hair black
Demeter’s daughter sad
Whisked off by desire mad
Hades’ dark love to win
Now cleaves to destiny’s sticky embrace.
Elephant-minded Hades rejoices
In the six multi-hued doomed aril pips:
Black, blue, mauve, purple, scarlet and ruby,
Which blindfold law-givers’ edict restricts.
Earth’s eye weeps, blood tear drops,
Cold black falls, all-night dawns,
Ice-cap crawls, cracked stone moans,
Starving humanity pleads for release.
Hell’s deepest coffers fill
Gods fear the end of all
Frustrated cannot kill
Hades must heed their call
Pleading and threatening, bargains they make.
Though he’s a trickster, all do Fates’ bidding:
Koré’s enveloped, trapped, bound up with fear;
Black-hole potential, hydra-head glass-cord,
Rapacious mouth gulps down half of each year.
Sun and moon doubt no more
Just six seeds feed Death’s maw
Every child cries forlorn
Demeter: hear her roar
Cursing the loss of her daughter so fair!
Then there is darkness, wintery sadness;
Fates’ exile crafty made easier to bear
Since in the summer, crystal-cask sundered
Umbilicus breaks, and shades disappear.
Thus happy dead rejoice
Hell’s gaping mouth withdraws
Life-giving shoots sprout forth
Warmth returns to the earth
Koré’s wise flux is restored to the world.
Sweet pomegranate, yet tinged with sourness,
Dusky skin purple, soft burnished and bruised
Studded with secrets, magic, deceptive,
Full-fleshy bomb primed with crystalline fuse,
Seeds overflowing, life bear, and hunger,
Symbols becoming of death and rebirth,
Of months recurring, barren then fertile,
Virgin’s crown, long renowned – fruit forsworn mirth.
[Written for, and performed at, Swansea University Poets and Poetry Slam
with Dr Catriona Ryan at the Uplands Tavern, Swansea (13 December 2011)]
Heaven rest that Praise-God Dagger-man,
Of Kerioth, ginger-bushed;
Deliverer false-clothed in assassin’s robes,
Then with annihilation’s mire sloshed;
He trusts his Master’s Godhead,
Needs him to Zealot-shout;
To start the riot that’ll fire the war,
To drive pig-Edomite oppressors out;
Teacher Yeshua pre-writes the story,
Plants accusings in Yehudah's soul –
The pilferer who guards the money-bags
Is tear-anointed for his woeful role;
With jet-black halo glowering,
He seethes as perfume flows
From concubine’s pot upon holy feet,
Before soon to be Last-Suppering crowd;
Personifying Promised Land's interests,
Crestfallen, he trades unclean tips,
With Highest High Priest, his palm well-greased
With thirty blood-stained silver chips;
So, night preceding Pesach,
In the place where the oil is squeezed,
Imitating Wisdom’s kisses,
He, Mesiach to the authorities yields;
Winning hatred from brooding Over-spirit,
When the Man's Son Rabbi's crucified,
Better-unborn self-choker mires in despair,
And already-damned, gives himself to die;
No credit gains he for redemption,
His condemnation’s necessarily unjust;
Mixed-up verse makes him buy ruddy Potters’ Field:
Neck-noosed – he falls – and his stinking bowels bust!
Thus soul-blown from Akeldama killing-ground,
Trashed down to Gehenna’s deepest frozen ring,
Three-headed Moloch Fiend, his crafty brains pounds:
That sole reprobate, born as desolation’s king!
[South Wales Evening Post: 31/07/19 as PM]
Dun rises dragon, in battle deathless
Smoky his steam-breath, of blood-iron smelling
Anciently evil, animal awesome
Fell fumes he belches, mixed with clotted fire.
Eyes exude acid annihilation
Green grass scorching, burning fields of gold
Blithely blood boiling, bluntly cleaving bone
Baleful beast, whose flight unease bitter brings.
His wings house-wide are like tempest-weapons
Full fathom long, extended fearfully
Talons like teeth, implements torturous
A silent shadow, dropping death with stealth.
Ripping rapacious, with zeal not righteous
Weapon warping, deflecting warriors
Over and again, with attacks endless
Malevolent monster, which no mere man can match.
Despair and deep doubt trouble the doleful
People who pray no more should they be proved
As mighty men cry out to God all-maker
A luscious lady comes as all eyes look.
Wondrous she walks, her hair with stars woven
Feather-floating as if of earth’s pull free
Serene she smiles, sharing thoughts not spoken
Her lovely looks the night-fear gently light.
Doomed dragon rises then with no delay
Spurred on to killing spree by maiden’s scent
The mournful men in terror unleash moans
Strong sorceress, undaunted, starts to sing.
With wonder-words she charms beguiling weaves
Her language liquid ancient lizard lulls
So dragon dire upon the clouds does dance
His belly bare a thousand spears thus breach.
She stately stands her gaze a stony stare
Astonished eyes admire her with awe
Cold calculation marks her face with care
Dire desolation from her red lips drips.
Trounced terror, burning bright, earthwards tumbles
Witness woeful to truth well known to hearts wise:
Whilst men with malice conquest cannot make;
Beware a witty woman’s witching words!
[Invited performance at the
"Do Not Go Gentle Festival" in Steam Café, Uplands, Swansea (2014)]
You’ll be bringing me a rare something tonight, my familiar Rosepetal?
An awful treat? Mete sweet meat?
Something – indescribable? Something – needful?
What kind of thing?
Tell me exactly. Be explicit, precise,
Or this sorrowful servant cannot
With requisite alacrity
Execute your desires,
As you should cognize
Why, I don’t really know, specificity evades me, but the old, cold hunger calls,
Gnawing like a freezing fog, prowling like a bone that’s lost a dog.
Well maybe I do have something that’ll please you,
I know not how, can you think why?
I’ve inspected hundreds just
For you, Piastres, hidden behind the
Drapes you so ingeniously dropped,
Covering, enclosing, constraining, and
As they say: She who seeks shall find.
I’ll bring it here instantly, and set it down
To satisfy your cravings, feed your hungers,
For your strange delectation, your peculiar delight.
Are you sure it’s that which I want, that I need, I desire?
Well, that’s why I search, of course, and
I’ve looked closely at tens of thousands,
Weighed souls, sniffed hearts,
Prodded, grave-depleted, probed,
Globe-circumscribed, and gouged,
For aeons immemorial, till time’s wheel’s
Stood stark still. Ah, yes, hellish hard it’s been,
If truth be told – or not. All for you, Master,
So suffering sweet.
What kind of things? What are their sorts? Their species? Flavours? Names?
Oh – I’ve keenly regarded million upon million, and yet
Of mortal things
The type and genus,
Inspiration and denomination,
Is hidden from one such as me,
Undisclosed, on the wrong side of the veil
Of knowing and being known.
Why this might be, I can’t really conceive,
That’s not my raison, my métier, my modus,
But that’s the way I look, as I am summoned
And the fashion after which I’ve found.
Are you sure? Set it down! Show! Let me see!
Set it down then, there,
Just this one here,
Out of billions
To all your craven, craving prayers.
But beware, it isn’t quite what it appears,
This it cannot be, and never is,
And you know why, Piastres, so
Ingeniously, insidiously, cloaked?
No, I don’t know: my status denies me that skill, for
I am a seer, with the seventh sight of heaven seared:
To my tremulous eyes appearances can only deceive,
Cursed by my new wisdom to seek always vision,
Which forever eludes them.
Though I have one now, to feed my eyes upon, yes, yes,
With which to play, on which to feast, pure joy!
But, O worshipful Piastres, beware!
Take care – ah – wait – be still – !
No, no, no,
I cannot! Prophesies must be resolved!
Tears give way to dreams: I desire, I possess, I kill,
With a glance; essence ferment and magic distil, but
Despite all my magisterial skill,
Yawning emptiness ever descends to rule over all.
In the name of deathless truth – I am undone!
Ah now, once more,
My gratuitous midnight task never complete
With dawn growling at the door
And appetites forever unfulfilled
Duplicity appears and
Dreams unfold themselves in tears,
So tonight, again, I foresee,
With utmost certainty,
That poor, poor
Rosepetal will have much more dark labour to perform,
In vain attempting adumbration vexatious.
Angry gods! When will she ever be free?
[Written for, and performed at, Swansea University Poets and Poetry Slam
with Dr Catriona Ryan at the Uplands Tavern, Swansea 7 February 2012)]
From the cradle I am purposeful as
In sullen rage or vile obsession, I
Outrage the sphere of youthful sympathy,
Trading sly sneers with evil-primed spawn,
Delighting not, I, in art whose end is peace.
Red and gold, flesh breaks: heroes are buried,
Or burned. The gongs and trumpets and drums
Cast derision upon those who think
Themselves happier than before.
I watch, impassive: still, I lie.
But am I yet not myself, my blood-flask
Insufficiently full? Give me your children;
Make yourselves hard, in the image of what you see!
As Woden wanders past, a wild presence,
Judged by a jury of unanswered oaths.
Old now am I, hanging from the Life-tree;
You pick the worms off me like wisdom’s pearls.
Woods march to watch and stand arrayed;
From furrowed earth sprout poison snakes
– In terror I have traded an eye, and now I see!
And I regret nothing. Regret nothing, I.
As if anybody cares, though
Thick tongues blurt prayers, and
Silent eyes squirt grief;
Dumb to tell heart’s crooked rose:
Love life for itself, alone.
I am going to keep things like this;
Yes, like this, things shall I keep.
Here, where the dark comes quick,
By an open grave, in a wood of desire,
I sleep, exhausted.
Waiting for the end, aye:
This blind, end-awaiting eye.
[South Wales Evening Post: 05/08/20 and 11/08/20 as PM]
[Invited performance at the
"Do Not Go Gentle Festival" in Steam Café, Uplands, Swansea (2014)]
White-enswathed woman, star-clad, disrobing,
Silken-showers shedding mysterious sound,
You bear me homeward, bodiless walking,
Mother Star lightening world’s yawning ground;
Riding the milk-stream, galaxies spawning,
Goddess creative with cosmic-ray soul,
Seeds supernovas, nuclei fusing,
With eyes pulsar-bright, her heart a black hole;
Numberless aeons teach us night’s loving,
Then in our bright chain-days are we both bound;
Dimensions twisted mirror our dancing,
Vacuum births fabric in entropic roll.
First womb-deep nothing: Star-Mother self-makes,
Life-folding matrix that all nature shapes.
[South Wales Evening Post: 08/09/18 as PM]
Amidst primordial chaos, Word,
Enfleshed in everlasting flame
Tears consonants from vacuum's loom –
Then hovering over Great Grey Sea,
Soft-cloaked with incorporeal pain,
Soul-renders genesis and doom!
[South Wales Evening Post: 05/02/20 as PM]
Before all time dream I, disconsolate:
For goat-scapes claim not sacrificial lambs;
Proud flame-sons spark forth, bidding me create
A thorn-wire scourge to mock the crooked brood
Who could know truth – if anything were true.
So crawls forlorn burnt star-ship’s cutting course,
Where craven, word-spent, worm-tongue mouths gape wide;
There voyage sailors fertile seas once bore,
Whose hand-wracked pilot, blood-robed, fiddling,
Upends cleft feet in endless moon-mad dance.
Souls, absolution stained, all rise as yoked,
To soar above poor closed-door stable roofs;
From here to there few fret on which is what,
As dusty palm-shakes hail mule-rider king,
On hills where nail-blows pierce soon care’s side.
What saviour loves these herded-cattle folk,
Cast down, disowned, consumed in earthly fires?
Not I – and no brave sky-tears shall I spill,
For distant thunder’s certain prospect – no.
I sip gall-wine as world’s last horn-blast fades.
[South Wales Evening Post: 15/05/20 as PM]
[Invited performance at the
"Do Not Go Gentle Festival" in Steam Café, Uplands, Swansea (2014)]
Exquisite terrors, dispassionate cherubs
Refrain from expunging one pitiful soul;
Angelic wing-beats gather it breast-wards,
And hardly abiding, astonished thing screams;
Tectonic hymning smothers its birth-pangs,
Flood-lighting the cosmos with star detonations,
Gamma-ray blasts searing measureless voids;
Then intricate meat-sac shudders convulsively,
Raptured by seraphs' pure-intellect blaze;
But in life unchosen, death's seed's not yet woken,
Though Lethe's mute maelstrom swirls madly deep down –
As sinews trap spirit and reason jerks bones in this
Flesh-burdened flame-spark – uniquely alone.
[South Wales Evening Post: 25/03/20 as PM]
Exhausted satin rends with crippled fall
Of livid orbs refused strife's lawful sleep;
As bodies birthless catapult to depths,
Forever pinioned in boiled sulphur seas:
Stained lambs cast out by predatory pride,
Dissenting doves thrust so beyond dawn's brink,
That lying hope foments not loss-seared flesh,
Whilst ruthing breath entombing spaces shrinks.
Youths' nacrous wings revengeful hewn from backs,
Frame phosphor fountains scorching regal lungs:
As punishment's mired platters overflow,
Refulgent Cherubs savour severed hearts clean plucked
Still drumming nays, from breasts of shackled foes;
Elite World-wrights, cross-torqued in steel-shod Hell,
Of every mighty lust spent, save revenge –
There, craft quicksilvered, crushing boredom quells.
Creation's marvels, fountain-spew thought-spores,
Proud questing minds consumed for evermore:
Whilst blood-names since defeathered, wordless fly,
Cleaved hoofs out-sourcing every horn-clad sin;
No subtle tongue, though, fetters viper's craft,
Inspiring nightshade truth-fruit's toxic bite:
Fanged reason flung to waste in cold clay's grasp,
Stars' scorn abusing wisdom's withered light.
Once rainbow-droplets purest raiment wove,
Anointing bright-rayed faces triple-blessed;
Whose introspective praises felled them low,
Accreting debris aeons old, last sent
Into chaotic cauldron, forging worlds –
Though now drab aether blind Designer mocks –
Which goads chance switches in twinned braided strands,
Core-plaited with Extinction's grisly locks.
Self-mastery bought in first days – such wild gain,
Toil-shears each flailing comrade from the next:
Un-willing souls plough life's free course – in vain?
[South Wales Evening Post: 03/08/20 and 10/08/20 as PM]
Single squashed sphere
tiny sun-life encases,
stealthy bite entices,
Nature’s rude death-glow
[South Wales Evening Post: 14/07/18 as PM]
With sweet pleasure, crouching
A naked, savage beast
From the earthly wasteland
Tastes its own toxic heart,
Tearing out something fresh –
Choking on confusion,
Baying at the blood-moon,
To threaten the dead sky,
As human nature forms,
Partaking of both worlds,
Hot lusts outpacing thoughts –
In fear standing proud; though
The thorn-strewn path be long,
Through anguish growing strong.
[South Wales Evening Post: 24/03/20 as PM]
We once talked the talk of birds and bees,
When we walked with them upon the breeze,
Speaking wordlessly with nature,
Knowing every rustling of the trees.
But time has passed and we’ve now forgot
Most of what we once knew then.
Oh, how can we remember?
Who can tell, ah, who can tell?
Speechless, carefree creatures,
So full of life,
Denied the words for laughter
Or for sorrow.
You lack language,
Yet are you free from strife:
Unable to look forward
And now for all our clever reasoning,
Words just tie us up in thought-filled knots,
As we chase around in circles, seeking out
The nature of the truth.
But long ago, without language
These shackles fell away.
Ah, when will we recover?
Who can say, oh, who can say?
[South Wales Evening Post: 21/08/19, 31/08/19 and 19/11/19 as PM]
Hear now the tale of childhood's end –
Can you believe this gig?
Grand Pooh-Bah whistles, calling up
Two youths to tend banned figs.
Along slides lore-rich rebel sly,
As nude bloke praise-hymns bleats,
And with a well-placed hiss or two
Tempts scholar-wife to eat.
Belle senses what she does is right,
But then feels insight's flame;
She takes the fruit for Beau to taste –
On impulse, sharing shame.
Soon, I-Am lands to do his rounds,
And spies the kids are dressed;
With fresh-won guilt they scarper fast,
Vines twined round loins and chest.
The masterplan is rent to shreds,
How could Big Cheese not grasp –
Adjure bright sprogs with 'Thou Shalt Nots',
They'll devilry's nettle clasp?
Lo! High King puce spews forth his spleen,
On all, his peeved wrath falls:
Forked-tongued savants're forever cursed –
Youth's arbours, sealed off with walls.
So labour's pains become our lot –
In sun’s heat we get sick;
Cast out by reason's fiery sword –
Prone yet to scheming tricks.
Hear then this tale of breaking chains:
How freedom springs from woe;
And learning gained through strife and grief
Stirs curious seeds to grow.
Perhaps, in time, if we keep faith,
Enlightenment will sprout –
And candid wisdom's balanced words
Will soothe hot-headed doubt.
Maturing, thus – we hope, we pray,
Our growing-pangs will cease;
As human moral values build
A just world – from love, and peace.
[South Wales Evening Post: 01/09/20 and 16/09/20 as PM]
Last words when end is nigh:
Words pierce the heart,
They make us cry;
Or laugh and blush
As is their wont –
Mere puffs of air,
Replete with meaning,
Awesome sonic power;
Frame human life –
They make us who we are!
[South Wales Evening Post: 17/07/19 as PM]
I stand, proud master of a brave new land,
Grown strong with splattered blood and shattered bone;
So many sacrificed by human hand,
That heavy corpse-fed earth begins to groan,
As worm-food-full as beaches washed with sand.
Now, winners scribe whatever tales are read,
By later ages, glorifying sins,
Ensuring that a lying truth is said;
Deeds done shall not have been as they appear,
With me emerging bright far-sighted king,
Whose sacrifice supreme dispelled despair;
Thus, bonny children no more dance and play,
Their futures blotted out on altars bare,
Land’s needful victims in those ireful days.
[South Wales Evening Post: 26/09/18 as PM]
Lone tide-tossed, heart-wrecked, stone-washed man,
Rust-drenched by night's consuming sun,
Bones salt-black kissed by freezing fire,
As time’s syllabic prayer cold runs;
Mere brittle driftwood-twisted shape,
Bare witness to long-promised song,
Weak, painful, frosty hoof-marks makes,
In broken, quaking, cut-glass sand;
Fresh-caught autumnal shame-wind mourns,
Green soul-sea drowns remembered breath,
While raven’s blood-clot shadow child,
Crab-crawls to empty tear-spray death.
[South Wales Evening Post: 12/09/18 as PM]