My Columbine Valentine. For H B-C-M

This poem was made at sea. A year ago now, but the sentiments expressed are before, contemporary and beyond. It’s all for you. Thank you. From the heart.

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My seaside Valentine

If I could choose

Just one

Moment in time

To take ahead with me

Into unfathomable eternity

Governed by uncertain deity

Then

It would be

Standing Forward

Bedecked by you

( and, in my mind’s eye,

two ghost dogs

standing by)

On our voyage sublime

Watching the watery world slide by

The Pacific, painted by

Glacial blues

Awake

Gelato cream confusion

Melting into the black mirrored swell

As scimitar shaped birds

Slice the crested waves

Balletic marine fencers

Weaving, careening and

En Garde!

Hunting

The ocean’s ceaselessly hungering mouth

Restless, inscrutable, immutable

Breathing, deep water scheming

Its owners have

But scant regard

for our lumbering vessel –

Man made iron muscle –

Outflanked and bested

By shearwater and petrel

Undone by dolphin and iridescent Dorado.

It is as though we were

Tipping over the Equator

Outstripping day and date

Adventuring, ever southwards

Our ship in full spate

Speed baffling knots

Nautical miles

Our beating hearts rate.

 

Yes!

This would be the moment I’d choose to take.

With

You

and I

Yours and mine

Atlantic,

Caribbean

Pacific

To be specific

My salt spray adored

My seaside companion

My maritime best friend

My own worlds end

My sweetwater , Columbine

Valentine

 

13/2/19

 

 

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Looking for a great read? Hurry along to http://helencareybooks.co.uk 

 

 


Marc Mordey’s Election Blues.

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And so, the people have spoken

The voting’s passed.

We’ll be quitting Europe

And I am downcast.

I may well be “Remoaner”

But I’m certainly, no loner.

What will our UK look like I wonder?

How much we will we mind?

As the borders change

And nationality lies

evermore strictly defined?

Will ‘the Union’ be stronger

Or not exist for much longer?

Will the Foodbanks flourish?

Or become the norm?

Universal credit unravel?

And HS2 , transform

The pace of travel?

Heathrow expand?

The flooding too?

As the climate wreaks revenge

On our green and pleasant land?

Will we see more homelessness?

More social care distress?

Deck the Halls with boughs of Holly

As another 95 year old spends

Ten hours on a trolley.

Will your pension get paid?

Your wages start to grow?

Will the wealthiest share more

Or simply bask and brag,

Awash, delighting

in the fiscal afterglow?

Democracy gives

Democracy takes

And I must make the best of it.

But my heart is heavy

Languishing, leaden, lethargic .

Alongside, how many?

Some half of my fellow citizens?

As we put up with the rest of it.

Wondering, what happens now?

With division, disenfranchisement,

Adrift and despairing.

Some cross, many bitter,

And others,

simply beyond caring.

So, roll the drums,

As Mr Johnson becomes

Our One Nation Tory saviour.

Victory is sweet, and doubtless to be relished

“Let’s get Brexit done”

that”ll save ya!

Me? I’ll be learning to live

With a sense of defeat

Under our nation’s new roof.

Rendering my version of truth

Sackcloth and ashes, unembellished.

 

 

written on the morning of Friday 13th December 2019.

 

 


Advent. A poem for Roger Hill.

We’ve known Roger pretty much ever since we came to live in Newport in 2005. He was a great friend, a bon viveur and raconteur.

He, Reg and myself and the two dogs,  used to walk to the top of Carningli most Sunday mornings, probably for about three or four years. Roger liked to see the sun come up, so the Sunday morning starts got earlier, and earlier…! The gossip was good, the coffee even better, and the two dogs always got a biscuit. At the end of the walk Helen often provided a cooked breakfast. Those were golden mornings.

A talented artist, a lover of words, of music, of friends and family. An ally, a kindred spirit. A free spirit.  We will miss him very much, as we do Betty, who died around a year or so before Roger.

His pictures hang in the bedroom.

His memories move over the mountain. 

I’ve called this poem Advent, as kind of memorial to the time he marshalled us all up top to sing carols and wassails.

 

You urged us on to crest Carningli

As the summer sunrise split the Western skies.

And we’d huff and puff

Gossiping, musing and marvelling

As the Bay yawned below.

One time you had us carolling and wassailing

In the gathering Yuletide

swirling, steaming mists,

A hint of snow.

The mulled wine and singing

amidst the mystery of ancient stones.

 

Our walking trips gradually dwindled.

Stopping points became final destinations,

As knees gave way and age overtook us.

We had to say au revoir to

The gorse and heather, still painting their

Honey golden purple splash

Startling the muted grey of

mountain moulded rocks, bedazzling

Larks, sheep, cattle and ponies.

But the pub, painting, music and stories

Held up our conversations

(As did Brexit, climate change, other debate

Indeed, as you aged

your plea for a new vision

grew ever more passionate.

Your voice undiminished by the indignities of maturing.

And we’d do well

to heed your warnings)

 

Your friendship, intellect, never dimmed.

You were both interesting and

Interested.

Now we’ve lost you to the drumbeat march of time.

Your paintings grace our wall

Lighting up this winter gloom.

The memory of you

Suspended

Sublime.

 

Sleep well.

Rest safe,

on your West Wales mountainside.

Close to family, hearth and home.

Asleep, but not alone.

A great man for all our days.

A friendship celebrated, tried

true and tested,

To be remembered in

Oh, so many ways.

Unlikely to be bested.

 

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The church in winter. a 60th birthday gift for me from Roger. May 2019.

 

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Penrallt Farm, as portrayed by Roger, December 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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.

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