Tomato-stained metal lends
Light-rays fresh meaning,
Ground coffee to kettle shouts:
Hasten your steaming!
Eggs, sausage and bacon
On plates white lie gleaming,
Bleak nightmares’ embraces,
Stuffed belly redeeming.
Do life’s adult quirks
All begin in like fashion –
As fern-frond-thick mud-pools
Of childhood’s rich passions
Embed, and then sprout forth
Instead of elation?
[South Wales Evening Post: 23/08/19 as PM]
Some say that memory is house-like;
A massive mansion, stuffed full of rooms,
All of them packed to bursting with
Byzantine tapestries, even
Treasures of electrum.
And so if you want to recall a particular
Image, idea, emotion, you just
Need to work out how to trail-track
The snail-moist mosaic tilings of
Evocation, from place
To mind-cracked place:
Prickly, fresh-mown grass’s nostrils,
Green live hay-sneeze, eyes tight scrunched;
Oily heating, mud galumphing; leafy
Scrunching, boot-pool splashed.
And, Oh, yes – Those one-time kisses,
Caresses; Bramble-wires that now but
Bloom again, unsought-for, careless –
Yet toting loaded thorns.
[South Wales Evening Post: 27/11/18 as PM]
Sometimes, you know, I have desired,
with a sharp-quilled desolation,
to rub you out, erase you,
efface your very presence,
effect your immediate
chisel out your eyes
from the world’s scratchpad,
with childish scrawl.
Of course you do.
And now and then
in swamp-dark moments,
quagmire’d in soul’s quicksand,
I have thought that
permanent absence would be better
than continued existence,
even for an instant.
Can I lie to you, any more
than I can deceive myself?
When thinking or moving eluded me
I, sweating, have struggled,
to the death almost,
to shake off
the gnashing, gnawing grip of
the wanton black dog
who’d come to me, stealthy, as
a slobbering puppy and,
hooked a howling shard,
deep inside my heart.
But, in moments of
lighter being, whilst making, creating,
outwards expanding, not
accepting, revelling in
surrounded by children’s love,
playing, enjoying wallowing
in the luscious mud,
I become an airier fairy,
brighter, breezier, sporting
crazy, lopsided, mucky fun.
Then, I can see that this picture is
not mine alone to sketch, and, as
just for the sake of it, I
carry on doodling along,
a dinky ant with inky feet,
a wry smile painted on its
[Inspired by “Coat” by Vicki Feaver, in “Close Relatives” (1981)]
Gold-red curling leaf-fall scrunching
Vinegar hardening conker battling
Daylight saving spread toast dripping
Pale skies glowering scarf and gloving
Noses blowing bobble-hat donning
Pom-pom jiggling fur-coat shrouding
Pumpkin carving trick-or-treating
Fancy-dressing door-step jeering
Skelington scampering — get lost!
Old-guy pennying bonfires blazing
Firework lighting sparkler writing
Chestnut munching thick stew slurping
Tree-bough decking holly prickling
Late night shopping bargain hunting
Turkey stuffing pudding steaming
Yule log blazing tree arraying
Baubles bobbing tinsel glinting
Christmas making: oh — my — gosh!
Landing lurking midnight waiting
Santa spotting reindeer prancing
Tension mounting tiredness creeping
Parents giggling mulled wine draining
First light rousing stairs tear-downing
Open-sacking faces glowing
Pressie pouncing fishy-mouthing
Dinner scoffing cracker pulling
Table groaning stomachs bulging
Mistletoe hanging grandpa yodelling
Scrumble plocking winglog lurbing
Glurble nurdling furgle pwaking
— o — o — o — o — o — o — o — o — oh!
I never wanted to be a tree, really
when I was a young shoot,
(not that I had much choice
in the matter, although
I hated outdoorsy stuff),
but I cherished anyway
the green sapling hope
that my forest-father would
and maybe cast out in my
direction some tendril that might
lick me like a loving look.
For trees are supposed to be toweringly tall,
monstrously majestic, even
(on a good/bad day);
not needing to love or be loved,
not talkative, either,
and only being moved
when the wind shakes them,
Dad’s tree, though,
was much moss-infested
(apart from the upper branches
which had shed all pretence
when he had but few rings).
Not a proud oak, he hovered,
always at the edge
Huge-boled and always
his clumsy boughs were born
to break everything
they carelessly scraped against,
as they frequently did,
to fall away
And I was just like him
(to everyone else, apparently, though not to his musty eyes,
and dusty ears) –
talk about chips and
old blocks, let alone
beams and splinters.
inculcated, inoculated, insulated,
insinuated, inseminated, I
grew, like him, as full of self-love
as I thought I must deserve.
But he looked past me
and my new sisters
attention, always mewling)
into the middle distance:
A love-blind, earth-bound sailor,
(eyes starrily staring)
yearning for the sea.
Ah, years have passed,
the sea’s dried up,
or at least ceased its
and I’ve (by accident
if not by design)
grown, groaning, into
a man, rather than a tree.
And now I talk, and run, and laugh, and love
(at least I try, a little bit,
with aches jointing),
and hardly see the old blasted bush.
But when I do happen,
to amble shambolically
into his ambit,
I can, now at least, begin
to be the old drippy
hippy, he never
was, and tree-
hug him, tendrilly,
in (more-or-less) loveless
So, in silence,
[Inspired by Gladys Wellington’s “I Wanted to be a Cauliflower” (1977)]
He lives his life through razorblades
Fifty-nine and never laid
Mach-3 12-pack sorts his shaves
When, or if, he’s rarely paid
In kind with razorblades.
With razorblades he lives his life
All pleasure self-inflicted wank
In one-room bedsit – there’s no wife
The lust for love a throbbing blank
Gilded with razorblades.
In razorblades his life is lived
Existence strung out noon to night
No friends one ounce of solace give
Midday sun but velvet blight
Ripped through by razorblades.
You live your life in razorblades
No choice but play this God-cursed game
Stumbling daily to the grave
Along a path strewn thick with shame
Studded with razorblades.
In razorblades you live your life
Frustration’s fangs carve bloody paths
Forearms witness signs of strife
Condemned to bear time’s comic wrath
Traced out in razorblades.
In razorblades your life is lived
Just one man’s touch could wipe the pain
You yearn to share but cannot give
Such pent-up rage drives you insane
Taunted by razorblades.
Gilded, ripped through, studded, traced;
Taunted, wanked-off, self-sliced with hate;
And blank, and strife, and shame, and blight:
My life – I – living, died, with each day’s shave.
Ginned quinine-glowing tonic,
Teeth spearmint fluoride-flossed,
Despoiled by bone-crazed dog,
Grande Cuvée Jeroboam flutes,
Tears’ lachrymose secretions,
Ears cerumen-wax clogged.
Saliva glands starch-pulp enmeshed,
Buccal amylase infused,
Quick to poison gastric bristle,
Fanged iron-tasting flint-blade slice,
Blood anvil-red death-pooled,
Herbed Haggis-offal whisky tang,
Bagpiped by skirl of thistle.
Itched histamine-cursed pollen-germ,
Green-chopped by breezy-blades,
Gored petrichor of humus-soil,
Ex-tractor’d from mute ground,
Sharp ozone-scorch, rich compost funk,
Rainforest’s leaf-mulch glades:
Olfactory vibrations tweak,
To nose-receptors bound.
Molecular messages, sealed detonations,
Emotions commanded through forced inhalation:
Vexatious vibrations inspiring mentation;
Gyrating elated on swift-winged sensation –
Flirtation's palpations refusing deflation,
Orated quotations eluding stagnation,
Temptation's pulsations truncating salvation,
Cremation-flames licking forgotten oblations,
Cognition mutating, escaping ligation,
Starvation, privation, negation, damnation,
Dissolved and chelated by nasal creation –
Fogged memory-traces avoid liquidation,
Life-story's striations defying ablation,
Zapped startled awake in this whiffy causation;
Odiferous powder kegs – lacking translation!
[South Wales Evening Post: 15/10/20 and 19/10/20 as PM]
A beautiful youth named Narcissus,
Was loved by a lithe nymph, delicious;
But the self-obsessed lad
Sat pool-gazing, so sad:
He’s now lily, she Echo – how vicious!
[South Wales Evening Post: 13/10/18 as PM]
If I found out,
The whole world
Was about to end
With a bang, tomorrow,
I imagine, maybe,
I would dash outside,
And bash my thick skull
Real hard against the
Nearest red-brick wall;
Blood boiling at all the
Cwtshing not done, joy cast aside,
Excruciating embarrassments multiplied,
Idiots indulged, friends not made (or lost),
Loneliness endured, potential wasted,
Monstrous frustrating boulders hefted
Up monotonous mountains, even,
When I could have screamed
'Get lost!' and run a million miles,
(Or held my ground and fought,
If I’d had the guts).
So here stand I, Exhibit A,
My heart weighed
Against a feathery truth:
I’ve suffered enough from
A lifetime of learning,
And now there’ll be
No more 'no mores'
(I think). It just goes to show –
Some things never change ...
[South Wales Evening Post: 20/07/20 as PM]
[Written at the “Poetry of Negation” Workshop with Brian Turner
at the Dylan Thomas Centre, Tŷ Llên, Swansea (25 June 2011)]
“… cellar door is ‘beautiful,’ especially if dissociated from its sense …” (*)
You feel them scutter, x-ray shadowed in the walls,
Know they whisker-tune the leprous plaster;
All along the threadbare slats, they snuffle through
Rust-tincture; porridge-crust wax-scented night-prayers;
Everywhere, slime-infusing tight-wormed holes,
Where pink snouts pluck out, blind paws churn up,
Once superhero-klonk’d, now ink-sick, comic-paper.
Too bestial for language though, their peculiar motions –
Corkscrew-sliced from hollowed nests that, mothball-clouded, nearby lie –
Loom upwards; random incursions always threatened,
As nigh-light stifles in breathing dark’s under-handed glove-velvet play.
From bed-time dusk, the walls seethe, no tiny mercies rendered, vengeful,
Bear down with hidden tongues, maggot-wiggly, acrid, wet and warm,
Mewling out to those oozing, shadow-melting brethren,
Insidious offspring, suckling at alkaline battery-holes,
Delved, corrosive, down to dismal cellar-burrows, deep below sick concrete kitchen floor.
That fungus-fogged lair where foul Selador,
Berserk, unstoppable, fear-feeding King,
Slick, fur-beaked beauty, stalks – misbegotten
Tyrant – gristle-feasting, eyeball-slurping, rending wings;
From whose hot red rage, grown-ups’ critical absolution flies,
And in whose monstrous sin-sight, one child’s guilt-infused innocence dies.
[South Wales Evening Post: 23/06/20 and 24/06/20 as PM; (*) J R R Tolkien, “English and Welsh,” in “The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays” (1983) London: George Allen and Unwin)]
Trite tears plop in sluggish river
Sluicing maybes to the ocean,
Where petrolled seagulls squawk, forever
Yes, by God, I'm here and single,
Again, as if by curse divine
Why do gall and passion mingle –
My love, with wormwood thine?
Lardy cherubs flail in heaven,
Showering barbs on earthly brothers;
But never will you be forgiven
Slinging hooks to bed that other:
As poly-ethene clots the earth,
And crude oil-slicks blood the sea –
Your pork I curse, for all its worth,
Whose snout once nuzzled me.
[South Wales Evening Post: 21/0618 as PM]
Live liquid light illuminates
Dank dusky, duckweed-dappled depths,
Pale pond’s putrescence bathed in bright;
Meet metaphor for poetry
Containing secret meanings tight,
Enwrapped in language magical,
Deep speaks to hearts, grants second sight.
But where shines sun slants also shade:
Brash brassy babble quick begets
Misinformation’s murky night;
Untruth, mistrust, deceit crawl forth
With urgent demagogic might;
So hate-filled propaganda grows –
Sweet buds of true communion blights.
[South Wales Evening Post: 20/07/18 as PM]
Attention tumbles, inconsequentially groaning,
Acceleration quietly quicker, neck-whip flipped
Into vast, void nothingness, unfathomable black
Where even night is not; No – blank, cold hole,
Intemperate temperature frozen, ultimately
Unchanging; in entropic exhalation, enshrouded,
Entombed; Clothed in cerements of suffering,
Moon’s star-skull death-mask screaming blue murder,
Where hemlock and cheap bourbon cannot
Efface you – nor excise the pain.
[South Wales Evening Post: 29/09/19 as PM]
Oh bile-filled Dad – lay off your lies –
Why blight bright offspring with stale cares?
In desperation's mire Mum cries;
But is that reason angst to share?
Of course, your old folks too were mad:
The bawling you misunderstood;
Harsh treatment stopped you going bad:
To them it was sign of true love.
We’re cursed from birth; life’s just a glitch:
The only answer, death’s embrace;
So suffer, lonely; don’t get hitched,
Nor propagate the human race!
[South Wales Evening Post: 24/01/20 as PM; apologies to Philip Larkin]
A bullet came searching,
It found rookie’s head:
Like a pumpkin, it shattered
In skull-pulp of red.
“What a bastard surprise,”
The shocked general said,
“To be felled by fire friendly
Is surely no jest!”
“Let’s not rub salt in fresh wounds,
Let sleeping dogs rest;
“She needn’t have died:
Keeping quiet is best.”
But how racked were her children,
The grave stood beside;
But proud life-loss for country –
Only traitors deride!