In Kythera 2019. For Helen Carey.

We met on the Greek island of Kythera ( pictured above) in June 2000, and returned, for the first time in 14 years, this June. It was magical when we met, and it (all) still is. On the same trip we met Hera, but that’s another story, maybe another poem. But for now, this is for Helen, who has my heart.

How did two decades

All but a year,

Slip by?

Filio laughed and hugged us, even cried,

The bamboo drifted in the soft breezed warmth

You and I, beside.

The taverna table laid up for two

Where once I waited

And the taxi ( thankfully)

never arrived, instead,

There was you.

As the wild thyme keened the air,

The kestrel plummeted

Geese hissed in a dust bowled olive grove

and the first cicadas of the summer began to drum.

Bees, drunk hummed on myrtle sipped nectar

Seawards spiralled

The blue and yellow collided

Over Kapsali mountainside.

Near Mitata, the church tower split, stricken,

We walked a new path

Crunched ancient shells underfoot

Stressed from the strains of bygone volcanoes

Tiny flowers grasped life from thin soil

A goat danced, windwarded.

How graceful you were

As we spanned the unknown

Having walked the Englishman’s Bridge

Revisited a love story

Writ large.

On the island where love erupted,

Bloomed, prospered, sun soaked

No longer alone.

Mediterranean delight,

Grecian pleasure.

We wrapped it tight,

Flew north,

Made it home.

Now, needs must

That I guard the treasure.


A poem for Remembrance Sunday

This is an older poem, but the sentiment, for me, remains the same. I hope it is worthy…

2015-flowers-family-friends-018Remembrance Sunday.

What would you have had us remember?

As you mustered in the trenches,

Around the gun emplacements.

As you hopped into the cockpit

And flung yourself skywards,

Or plumbed the depths

Submerged and submarined?

Should we remember your bravery?

Your mockery? Your cynicism in the face of duty?

Your gut wrenching anxiety,

Your fear, your mortal pain,

As you were killed and wounded,

Again and again and again?

 

Do the flags, the parades,

The preachers, the cavalcades,

Act as sufficient homage?

Or would peace, justice, equality

Be more deserving of your patronage?

 

But whichever,

It is true.

We must continue,

To remember you.


Brexit blues, November 18

As there’s both a General Election, and we are still ( thankfully) part of the EU, I’m taking the liberty of resharing my poem, written in 2016. Inspired to do so by an article in the Guardian newspaper suggesting that Brexit poetry can help. I wonder.

They seek it here

They seek it there

An elusive answer

Maybe even a prayer…

For some

Salvation

For others

Despair

And

Or so it seems

There’s them

Apparently

Who just don’t care.

A 100 years before

Europe completed a War

But some, dared to dream

Dreams

(Beyond passports and borders

Economics, migration

Project Hope and Project Fear

Leave or Remain

The results unclear)

Of a time and a passion

Where all people could fashion

A desire to end up

At

The same destination.

Whatever your politics

Your strength of conviction

The things that you value

Your own inclination

Let’s hope that our leaders

Can find some contrition

And guide us towards

A reunited state

An undivided, egalitarian

Non sectarian

Nation

Oh my!

A Nation….

But despite these views

I’m afraid to say

(Judged by the news

Speculation, analysis

Guesswork, bad temper

Reasoned debate

Irrational hate)

Day

after day

after day

We are all headed for

The Brexit Blues.

I can only trust

That, we don’t end up

With a terminal case

Of national paralysis.


Singing for Reg ( Newport, 18 10 19)

The ceiling of Ebenezer Chapel is decorated

In soft pastel creams, sea green relief

Golden sand colours abound

The soft lights, as sunshine through still water

We sit, gathered to think on you

As the choir and singers render your memory

Music lover, medicine man, historian, humourist

Think that you’d have loved the Rossini, the Puccini too

” My Little Welsh Home” rang poignant, so true

” The Girl in 14 G” blew the night shades away

Would that you’d lived to see this day.

Sleep well, sea billowed, tide caressed

Beyond music, pain, distress.


Are we one payday away from being homeless? – The Society of St James

A long time ago I worked for this charity, and I still follow and admire the endeavours of all concerned with interest and affection. Recognising how, in all our lives, perilously close to the wind we sail underpins a lot of my thinking, and some of my forays into poetry. So, I thought I’d take the liberty of sharing this piece here on my ( currently, somewhat neglected) blog. It’s well worth a read.

Meantime, new poems are brewing….I’ll keep you posted!

Are we one payday away from being homeless? – The Society of St James
— Read on ssj.org.uk/are-we-one-payday-away-from-being-homeless/


The Gathering – dedicated to Granville James

I have a friend and neighbour, John, who is a sheep farmer, with a flock on Carningli. His family have lived there for many years.

From time to time I adopt my temporary guise as #theoccasionalshepherd and help him with sheep related duties. For me, it is one of the greatest pleasures of living here in Newport, Pembrokeshire.

Two or three times a year a group of local people, often graced with the presence of Anwen and Chris, help John,and his sister, Aeres , to gather the sheep off the mountainside.  Until this spring we also always had Aeres’ husband, Granville, with his ever gracious smile, care and concern for all, and delight in the mountain and all it’s ways.

Sadly (an understatement if ever there was) Granville died in May this year. This poem is for him, for Aeres, Anwen, John and Chris,  and for all who help out this delightful family. It comes with love.

 

The Gathering

We are walking the old ways

Bracken snatching at our heels

Stone stumbling across the narrow tracks

The sun on our backs

Feet sinking occasionally in rushwards marsh

Sticks swishing bramble, as we make the pass

Larks rising abundant, trilling

A red kite patrolling the sun split skies

Crows flap, unwilling, it’s all a bore

Quite sure, they’ve seen this all before.

 

Is that a rock, recumbent?

Or a ewe, two lambed

Blue hooped, bread rolled, sometimes sooty from burnt gorse

Woolly marshamallowed, on matchstick legs

Stirring grumpily from a sleepy hollow

Answering the call

Her Master’s Voice

As John whistles, shouts, limbers, long shanked

Swiftly

Carningli’s highways and by ways

On the back of his hand

Whilst we follow, as best we can

Shepherding by osmosis

Sometimes instinctive

To the sheep, his tones, distinctive

The flock moving on demand

Alive to his ever familiar command

Labouring on

Sweating slightly with  the July heat

The Bay below,

Curtain called velvet blue,

The sky frames paper triangled sailing boats at play

Church and castle

At our feet

Maybe they hear us working?

In the graveyard, the tall trees bend to listen too.

 

Now we turn, the flock funneled towards homecoming fields,

Sweet grassed, comforted, steadfast and settled

They’re in!

A few rebels

Break for the mountain

But are black bag flapped through the 5 bar gates

Too late!

Baler twined and strung in

Scurrying, heel kicking, stream leaping

Left now

To dot the meadows

An Impressionist painting for the Pembrokeshire hillside

Above beach, and town

Seeping sandy time and tide.

 

We leave, turn away

Even though there’s more, much more to do

(Shearing, dipping, marking, treating)

But maybe not today

That’s all

For even farmers

Have to play

Leave the flock to graze

To raise the bleating clarion call

Dawn to dusk

By night, by day.

 

The wind, sweet heather breathed, new credential

Steeps and gusts above Stone and Castle Hill

Sighing gentle benediction

The Gathering complete

Under John’s direction

Yet we all missed one element, essential,

It leaves us, still,

Our friend, coralled, slumbering long, elsewhere

And now the feathering breeze

Whispers one name

Granville

Granville

 

 

 

 


Veterans – a D Day tribute.

75 years before…….

Young men stumbling into the shell bound surf
Silver flying fish
Stunned
The boys, wading on and in
Falling, camouflaged no more
Booming, battling forth
Whistling bullets, the siren song of war
Deafening the ocean’s unerring roar.

Years ago
in Juneau
I watched ‘Saving Private Ryan’
With Pete Bibb
Self appointed ‘old timer’
Who left the movie house
“Cannot watch this, have to go”
he muttered
As the faux machine guns
Cinematically stuttered.

This D Day morning
The robes of priests, clustered
The coat tails of politicians
And hats of royalty
Fluttered
As the bemedalled veterans
Mustered
Attendant, attentive,
Old men now
Memories shared, perhaps, despairs
Some stood and stared
As the peace yearning prayers
Were uttered.

In the fields at home
The buttercups, the thistle heads
Were bowing in the stiffening wind
That blows across the Channel
Westward, ho!
The clouds scud seawards
A breath of memory passes
Back across to France
Where death gleaned a mighty harvest
No respect for rank, for officer classes.

The flags and flowers
Half masted
The crowds lost
Perchance
In collective trance
Subdued respect, even awe
For
Our veterans.

And own them all, we all surely must
Those alive
Others sand blasted,dust
Their debt, in full, is met
Our account
Ever owed
To remember
And not forget.

2015-flowers-family-friends-018


D-Day – a link to Helen Carey’s blog. Recommended reading!

via D-Day


Making it to 60

Greetings to all friends who are generous enough to follow this blog of mine. I appreciate it very much.

I (hopefully) make it to 60 today, 12th May 2019 (and a quick hats off to the late and great Ian Dury, with who I share a birth date and who gave me/us ‘Reasons to Be Cheerful’).

I have always loved George Carlin’s piece below, and it seemed like a good day to share it!

Meanwhile : Marc Mordey’s song….

60 years on, 

In the merry merry month of May,

Managed a little work

Enjoyed a great deal more of play

Been drenched in love and affection

Avoided most harms and misdirection

Laughed, cried, not much denied

A small measure of pain

Bucketfuls of joy

Tried to be a man

But better at being a boy!

World trip 2019 101.JPG

(photo : Helen Carey – the Queen of my dancing days – and I, in Aruba, February 2019)

George Carlin’s views on Ageing

Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we’re kids? If you’re less than 10 years old, you’re so excited about aging that you think in fractions. ‘How old are you?’ ‘I’m four and a half!’ You’re never thirty-six and a half. You’re four and a half, going on five! That’s the key.

You get into your teens, now they can’t hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead. ‘How old are you?’ ‘I’m gonna be 16!’ You could be 13, but hey, you’re gonna be 16!

And then the greatest day of your life … . You become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony . YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!

But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There’s no fun now, you’re Just a sour-dumpling. What’s wrong? What’s changed?

You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you’re PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it’s all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.

But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn’t think you would! So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.

You’ve built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it’s a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday! You get into your 80’s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30 ; you REACH bedtime.

And it doesn’t end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; ‘I Was JUST 92.’

Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. ‘I’m 100 and a half!’

May we all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!

 

 

 


“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry” Emily Dickinson